Nuclear Weapons at 74.....

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Nuclear Weapons at 74.....

The world changed irrevocably, 74 years ago today...

On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico....

The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass—a nuclear explosion—and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Finally, on the morning of July 16, in the New Mexico desert 120 miles south of Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized.

For better or worse (depending on your personal perspective) the world changed that day.  There were obviously advancements all along the way, especially in terms of military.  Use of fire, iron weapons, mass production of crossbows, the trebuche, gunpowder, air power and on down....but none have had as long lasting implications.  (not in terms of actual time, but the way it revolutionized warfare.)

But, to give you something to watch on your lunchbreak:

Again, I believe as Paul Tibbetts (the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945) that:

My conception was at that time, if this thing is successful, we will bring this war to a close. I just couldn’t see how any nation could stand up to the power of the atom as portrayed to me at that particular time. I think in the intervening years, that I have arrived at the same conclusion because by ending the war, we would save lives. That was my idea. Save lives, not destroy them. And over the years, I have gotten numerous letters from foreign nationals, as well as Americans, who had been ready to make an invasion with the same basic statement: what you did probably saved my life. 

But, as morally and strategically right as I believe it was, I also understand what Oppenheimer was saying when he quoted from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

But, I happened to take special note of articles linked in the Military Times' Daily Early Bird Brief...

Military Times, EU works to save unraveling nuclear agreement with Iran:

European Union nations threw their diplomatic weight behind the unraveling Iran nuclear deal on Monday, trying to rescue the pact from collapsing under U.S. pressure.

The 28 EU foreign ministers insisted that recent Iranian actions surpassing uranium enrichment thresholds set by the 2015 deal did not necessarily condemn the whole agreement.

"We note that technically all the steps that have been taken — and that we regret have been taken — are reversible. So we hope and we invite Iran to reverse the steps," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

"The deviations are not significant enough to think that Iran has definitively broken the agreement," said Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who is in line to succeed Mogherini this fall.

Associated Press, US, Russian delegations to discuss New START treaty in Geneva:

Delegations from the U.S. and Russia are expected to meet this week to discuss arms control and the possibility of coaxing China into negotiating a new, three-way nuclear weapons pact, two senior administration officials said Monday.
The New START treaty, the last major arms-control treaty remaining between the U.S. and Russia, expires in 2021.There has been talk of negotiating an extension to the existing treaty, but the White House thinks the next generation of arms control must include China.

China has nuclear weapons, ballistic missile capabilities and the know-how to make chemical and biological weapons — and it is updating its nuclear arsenal. China has signed various international weapons agreements, but none limiting nuclear weapons.

Military Times, Top Iran diplomat says talks on ballistic missiles possible:

Iran's foreign minister has suggested for the first time that the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program could be up for negotiations with the U.S., a possible opening for talks as tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington over the collapsing nuclear deal.

Mohammad Javad Zarif offered an initially high price for such negotiations — the halt of American arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two key U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf.

But the fact that he mentioned it at all potentially represents a change in policy. The country's ballistic missile program remains under control of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

And Reuters, North Korea says nuclear talks at risk if U.S.-South Korea exercises go ahead:

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

 The United States’ pattern of “unilaterally reneging on its commitments” is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.

U.S. President Donald Trump revitalized efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons last month when he arranged a spur-of-the-moment meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the border between the two Koreas.

That's not even counting commentary and opinion pieces, like this one from The Hill which I'm not even quoting from because it seems to me a bit hyperbolic and over the top.

Nonetheless, 74 years ago today.....for better or worse, the world changed.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.