Sorry to distract from all the Dictatorship Day celebrations this weekend, but nuclear physicist and Antiwar.com regular contributor, Gordon Prather, reminds us that none of the Middle Eastern countries being targeted (Iraq, Iran, Syria) in this Phony “Global War on Terror” – so that they won’t “give nukes to terrorists” – have nukes or the capability to make them. The only Muslim nation with nuclear weapons is Pakistan – our ally – and if terrorists ever get a nuke, that country is its most likely origin. (Not that either of us are arguing for aggression against that country.)
“Pervez Musharraf, currently Pakistanâ€™s President and ‘Chief of Staff’ of Pakistanâ€™s army, has been on a world-wide book tour, flogging his just published autobiography, In the Line of Fire. It must be good, President Bush urged us to buy it.
“Steve Croft, of CBS News, began his interview of Musharraf this way:
‘Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons and Islamic militants, has been called the most dangerous country in the world, and one of the most dangerous places in it is riding in the motorcade of President Musharraf. Twice suicide bombers have tried to blow it up, killing 14 people in the process. Both times, Musharraf barely escaped.
‘There have been half a dozen plots on his life. Why are so many people trying to kill Pakistan’s president?’
“Basically, itâ€™s because of Musharrafâ€™s decision shortly after 9/11 to turn his back on the Taliban government in Afghanistan and the Islamic militants in his own country and to “cooperate” with President Bush in his ‘War on Terra.’
“But with the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Ladenâ€™s continued protected presence in Pakistan/Afghanistan, and the recently released National Intelligence Estimate [.pdf] that Bushâ€™s war of aggression against Iraq has increased the chances that you and yours will get nuked in your jammies, probably by a Pakistani nuke, it may be worth recalling ‘Itâ€™s Pakistan, Stupid,’ a column originally posted four years ago, on August 31, 2002, before it was general knowledge that Boy Bush had already commenced bombing the gee-whiz out of Iraq.”
My favorite quote from the article:
“You see, the Islamic terrorists and their nukes are in Pakistan â€“ not Iraq. Any attempt to prosecute the loose-nuke problem in Iraq may be counterproductive.”
Itâ€™s Pakistan, Stupid August 31, 2002
For the past decade, the warhawks have been itching to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. The excuse for the invasion â€“ by the U.S.-led Gulf War Coalition â€“ was to have been Saddam’s continued desire to have his very own nuke stockpile. But, alas, the Gulf War Coalition was shredded back in December 1998, when Slick Willie unilaterally attempted to depose Saddam with a cruise missile.
But then came the horror of Sept 11. Congress immediately authorized President Bush to wage War Against Terrorism. Secretary Powell assembled a powerful international coalition â€“ including nearly all members of the defunct Gulf War Coalition â€“ and set about eradicating Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
So, the warhawk excuse for the invasion â€“ by the U.S.-led GWOT coalition â€“ became Saddam’s continued desire to have a nuke stockpile. Except, now the warhawks argue that Saddam will give his nukes, once he has got them, to Islamic terrorists, so that they can nuke us in our jammies.
However, almost every member of the GWOT coalition has warned President Bush that there can be no invasion of Iraq unless a definitive link can be established between Saddam and the terrorists responsible for Sept 11.
So who cares if one more U.S.-led coalition is shredded? Well, perhaps you should.
You see, the Islamic terrorists and their nukes are in Pakistan â€“ not Iraq. Any attempt to prosecute the loose-nuke problem in Iraq may be counterproductive.
Recall that May 28, 1998, was a red-letter day in the Islamic world. In response to Indian nuke tests earlier that month, the Pakistanis successfully tested several sophisticated boosted, highly-enriched uranium implosion nukes.
It had been assumed that Pakistan had a few gun-type nukes. In a gun weapon â€“ like the Little Boy we dropped on Hiroshima â€“ you just shoot one sub-critical mass of Highly Enriched Uranium at another sub-critical mass. It hardly needs testing. We never tested the Little Boy, which contained about 140 pounds of HEU but weighed about five tons.
In 1993, it had been revealed that South Africa had developed an indigenous cradle-to-grave gun-type nuke capability. They stockpiled a half-dozen such nukes, each requiring 120 pounds of HEU, and each weighing about one ton. The South African nukes were much lighter than Little Boy, but still too heavy to be delivered by intermediate-range ballistic missile.
Now, a critical mass of Pu-239 is considerably less than a critical mass of U-235, and is, therefore, the fissile material of choice for nukes. But a gun weapon can’t be made with Pu-239. The two sub-critical pieces of Pu-239 can’t be assembled fast enough. So, in an implosion device, a sub-critical sphere of Pu-239 is surrounded by high-explosive shaped charges, and is driven super-critical by imploding shock waves.
We discovered after the Gulf War that Saddam had tried â€“ but failed â€“ to produce a U-235-based implosion nuke. He had a design, but he never had the necessary U-235. His design probably wouldn’t have worked, anyway.
But Pakistan did have the necessary U-235 and their design did work. Furthermore, the Pakistani nukes were boosted, as are virtually all nukes currently in the U.S. stockpile. You can read about boosting in the Cox Committee Report. It’s the secret of warhead miniaturization that some mole at Los Alamos is supposed to have given the Chinese Commies. The Pakistanis claim their boosted nukes are small enough to be delivered by ballistic missile and there is no reason to doubt them.
How could the Pakistanis have developed such a sophisticated cradle-to-grave nuke capability? You hear allegations that the Chinese helped them, technically, and that the Saudis bankrolled them.
Well, what we do know is that virtually all members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference â€“ including Saudi Arabia â€“ view the Pakistani nukes to be “Islamic” nukes. The OIC supports Secretary Powell and the GWOT-coalition efforts to keep Pakistan’s military dictator, Pervez Musharraf in power, and the Islamic nukes under his control. But all OIC members vigorously oppose any invasion of OIC member Iraq.
If the warhawks disregard the opposition of the OIC and the WAT coalition and invade Iraq on the pretext of keeping the nukes Saddam doesn’t have out of the hands of Islamic terrorists who aren’t in Iraq, the chances of those Islamic nukes that really are in Pakistan falling into the hands of Islamic terrorists that really are in Pakistan will go way up. So will your chances of getting nuked in your jammies.