August 31, 2015

More On Grid Hardening and Related Issues

We've taken breaks from our usual fluf-blogging to post about electro magnetic pulse before, tentatively running the math on some worst case scenarios, but we don't pretend to be experts on the topic. 


However, here is a panel of actual experts including James Woolsey and Henry Cooper (who some of you will remember from his work with HIGH FRONTIER) who, in 2013, held forth on the matter for a bit over an hour.


Amongst the things discussed is the possibility of multiple cascading Fukishimas. I was also surprised at the offhanded comment about the North Koreans being caught smuggling missiles into/ out of Cuba

One other interesting bit of information we've turned up on the topic pertains to the more modest nukes and delivery systems that a group with ambition and cleverness could extemporize. In 1958 the US conducted a series of nuclear tests called Hardtack 1. This included a test to determine the effects of a anti aircraft missile warhead that was simulated by lofting a small fission device via a ballon. The yield of shot Yucca was only 1.5 -1.7 kilotons but according to this article, the detonation was just high enough to trigger the High Altitude EMP effect. The fact that most of the observation equipment was destroyed by power surges was chalked up to improper calibration until the later high altitude tests that had populated areas (Like Hawaii) in line of sight revealed that the problem was not with the test equipment. Note that the tropical location would result in far lesser effects than one in a middle latitude location like the continental United States or Europe or Australia....or Kasputin Yar.

So a nuke as small as 1.5 kilotons delivered via balloon could still cause considerable mayhem by tripping breakers and burning out transformers. 

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August 19, 2015

News of the 21st Century

This Iran deal just gets better and better...I knew they weren't allowing the U.S.A. to do inspections of the Iranian nuclear sites, but if this AP story is correct then the agreement is not merely dreadful...it's clinically insane.


VIENNA (AP) — Iran, in an unusual arrangement, will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

"Unusual arrangement"...well that is not an inaccurate assessment. 

Read the whole thing. This is not somer obscure site, but rather Parchin, where Iran is perfecting explosive lenses

This is so batscat bonkers that I'm a tad skeptical. However, it would fit with a certain school of thought that the issue on our end is neither fecklessness nor naiveté, but rather motivation. 

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Russia has imprisoned (for 15 years) an Estonian they abducted. 

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The Russian economy may be much worse than thought...which could have either calming or incendiary effects upon that states behavior. 

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China is not retiring the old DF-5 ICBMs. Rather, they are upgrading the series of liquid propellant missiles. The new models increase their range to be able to hit targets anywhere on earth, with multiple warheads. This is similar to the arrangement that Russia has, with a few dozen heavyweight missiles complementing their road mobile ICBMs.

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Oh. Look...




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Finally..the kind of story that would not be out of place in an 80's film SET in the 21st century.... 

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August 12, 2015

Desperation Can Lead to Poor Choices

Nations that are under stress from within or without have historically been prone to attempt unifying their populations and ameliorating or postponing their economic reckoning by military adventure.


In other news...there is this
....Russia is within the perfect storm of an economic crisis. So, the Russian economy started stagnating in 2013. It was never really able to recover after the 2008-2009 recession, and in 2013 the economy really started to slow down. It's just grinding to almost a halt outside of energy. And so that was the very start of it. Then we had 2014 happen. The situation between the West and Russia over Ukraine eventually, of course, led to sanctions. And then, at the same time as sanctions against Russia, we had oil prices pretty much fall in half. And so it was multiple items put together, in which you had the Russian economy just take a nosedive over the past year and a half.

To the southeast of Russia, China is devaluing its currency.
The wild couple of days in the currency market compounded the damage already done by July’s stock market crash to the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping’s reputation as competent stewards of the country’s economy. Xi has amassed unprecedented political control and eliminated potential rivals through a massive crackdown on both corruption and political dissent. That might be all fine by Chinese citizens as long as the government continues to provide strong economic growth, but it works less well when the government seems incompetent on economic matters. The "Chinese dream” Xi has promised citizens includes not just national greatness but personal wellbeing.

However, despite this, the Chinese government is still hoarding oil....

More than 80 million barrels of new strategic reserve capacity is scheduled to start operations this year, and China will continue purchases to fill those tanks, according to Chauhan.

...and are saying that they may be the worlds largest oil importer this year. 

North Korea has the advantage that its economy is already rock bottom and has nowhere to collapse to. However, the drought is causing problems for a country where forestry is serious business
Naturally, the hermit kingdom is ramping up its uranium enrichment and mining as well as making noises about another nuclear test in October


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August 05, 2015

OK This is Neat

An old ad for the Seawolf amphibian variant that was aimed at military customers. I'm skeptical about the claim this you tuber made in the title, but I particularly like the boarding operation at 7:00 and "ninja mode" at 8:25. 



This would be my dream plane. 

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August 04, 2015

How Much Will 150 Billion Dollars Buy?

Obviously, production and sales tax issues aside, one could purchase 150 billion of those sketchy Dollar Tree steaks. However, one would not be Iran, which is getting 150 billion in frozen assets freed up as part of the deal to...ummm....slow their acquisition of nukes.


Anyway, it is rumored that they have made some interesting purchases:

150  Chinese J-10 fighters  (Guestimated at 5.625 billion)
250  Russian SU-30 Strike fighters (Guestimated at 9.375 billion)
100(!)  Russian IL 78 refueling tankers (Guestimated at 3.5 billion)

That is a hell of a lot of planes.  It's an especially large number of tankers, though if they are serious about power projection 4 fighters per tanker is not unrealistic...it just means the Iranians have given a lot of thought to logistics and other non-flashy assets an air-force needs.

The cost estimates come from Wikipedia and Global security and are WAGs only that don't take into account associated ordinance purchases, training or fuel costs. However, 18.5 billion leaves a lot of wiggle room for these and other pointy, sharp things before 150 billion is reached  and its not like the 150 billion is their budget...it's extra. 

A few things about this story.
Iran can't actually take delivery for a few years under the terms of the agreement and it's likely that most of the planes couldn't be built /delivered for some time anyway. However  a chunk of the Chinese order (and possibly the Russian one as well) actually appears to be a preexisting order from 2007, which was frozen because of the sanctions, so its possible that some of the planes have been built and also conceivable that the ex-post facto nature of the arrangement could allow delivery sooner than normally allowed. That is unclear, but the deal is so full of unpleasantness that it is not beyond the realm of possibility. 

This story itself is thinly sourced. It has popped up in a couple of places, but it seems to always refer back to the DEBKA story or a Wall Street Journal article currently behind a paywall. However, It is well within Iran's financial means and similar numbers of planes were being ordered in 2007 so it is very plausible. 

This story also gives some idea of what a windfall Iran has gotten irrespective of the nuclear aspects of the deal by having its assets unfrozen. In adjusted dollars this is a slightly bigger infusion of cash than The Marshall Plan was for Europe

Oy.

Dennis Prager has a good overview of the situation.... 



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August 03, 2015

A Few Things That Make One Just Throw Up Ones Hands And Go Watch Cartoons


For many, the major concern regarding the high octane nightmare fuel that is Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is loose nukes getting into the hands of one of the many Islamist organizations that operate in the country with and without official sanction. For instance:
PESHAWAR, Pakistan—Six leading figures of the Pakistani Taliban pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS, one of them claimed in an audio message released Tuesday
(There is no word on their position regarding Lion hunting.)


 However, the possibility of Pakistan straight up using their atomic weapons in a war is nontrivial. A lethal 12 hour long gunfight in an Indian border town has thrown tinder on the hot-plate that is India and Pakistan's relationship. This despite the fact that no lions were harmed during the incident. 

 It is part of a general pattern of deterioration of India/ Pakistan relations..

Conditions are ripe for a crisis in this strained environment, even more so if a terrorist attack on Indian soil—such as Monday’s—is traced back to extremist groups supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). These rising tensions make crisis management more difficult and increase the risk of a conflict with nuclear dimensions.

Pakistan and India have been to war several times and Pakistan's statement that they consider battlefield nuclear weapons to be legitimate equalizers should certainly give one pause since once nukes start popping off all in a conflict where both sides have them, all sorts of nastiness is likely to ensue. 

Here is an estimate of the soot cloud that would be generated by 100 nuclear weapons of 15 kiloton yield going off over cities. 


The scale on the bottom measures reduction in watts per square meter.

These estimates tend to lean towards the pessimistic, however, this study assumes blast yields somewhere between approximately one half and one quarter those of the underground tests the countries have conducted and since both countries had stockpiles of around 100 weapons in 2011 (and have been building them up since) the number of blasts modeled is perhaps half what one would see in a real war. It concludes that growing seasons would be reduced between 10 days and a month in many parts of the world.
 Smoke emissions of 100 lowyield urban explosions in a regional nuclear conflict would generate substantial globalscale climate anomalies, although not as large as in previous "nuclear winter”scenarios for a full-scale war (11, 12). However, indirect effects on surface land temperatures, precipitation rates, and growing season lengths (see figure, page1225) would be likely to degrade agricultural productivity to an extent that historically has led to famines in Africa, India, and Japan after the 1783 1784 Laki eruption (13) or in the northeastern United States and Europe after the Tambora eruption of 1815 
This does not include estimates of ozone layer depletion which might persist for as much as 5 years. These models should be taken with a grain of salt of course, but it is apparent that if India and Pakistan go at it full on it would cause problems worldwide.

There has been little coverage of the deteriorating situation between the two nations in the U.S. media which is remarkable given that many of the hypothetically targeted cities in the studies contain zoos, which in turn might contain....lions. 

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Fortunately, no negative impact upon any lions is considered imminent, hence the lack of interest by the media. 

Ukranian 'rebels' are reportedly building a dirty bomb, ie: a conventional explosive laced with radioactive substances to increase its lethality, or at least fear inducing effect. Like everything coming out of the confused region this should be treated with some skepticism, especially since the media has determined that it does not merit extensive coverage despite the fact that, if true it would be an obvious threat to the proud people eating lions of Kiev

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Puerto Rico is defaulting on its debts. This is the U.S. Greece, fortunately no lions seem to have been harmed. 

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China's stocks fell 29% in July. This is having some ripple effects, but may, in the short term, lower the number of Chinese businessmen able to pay for safaris to hunt lions. 

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Poaching lions is a thing worthy of notice, but when the Jews start to flee a nation, it is warning sign of dreadful ugliness in the works .

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