Quotable

"The moral cost of nuclear armament is that it makes of all of us underwriters of the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people and of the cancellation of future generations." -Jonathan Schell


Monday, April 16, 2012

Occupy Vandenberg on May 16th! Stop the tests!

After months of planning an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is readied for test launch.  Air force aircraft and navy vessels work to clear the areas where the jettisoned stages of the missile will come down, as well as to keep a safety zone should the missile fail during one of its launch phases.  Countdown begins...

There has been no international outcry over the planned test launch of the missile that, under normal operational deployment would carry a thermonuclear warhead.  There is no discussion anywhere by the news media about the test and its implications regarding international efforts to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons and move the world towards disarmament.


What we see...
5... 4... 3... 2... 1... With a monstrous roar, and leaving a trail of smoke, the missile launches out of its silo using its first stage rocket motor. About 60 seconds after launch the first stage burns out and falls away, and the second stage motor ignites.  In another 60 seconds the third stage motor ignites and pulls away, sending the rocket out of the atmosphere.  In about another 60 seconds the Post Boost Vehicle separates from the third stage and maneuvers to get ready to deploy the reentry vehicle or RV.

Next the RV separates from the Post Boost Vehicle and re-enters the atmosphere, making its way to its target. The euphemistically named RVs are what contain the thermonuclear warheads that are capable of incinerating entire cities (and beyond) and instantly killing (at least) hundreds of thousands of people and causing untold suffering (both short and long term) to the survivors. 

Since this is a test the RV is loaded with a "dummy" warhead as it hurtles toward the test target.  In a matter of just minutes from launch the dummy warhead lands either on or near an isolated atoll 4200 miles from the launch site, right on target. 

And that's all folks.  No fanfare, no big news stories.  Just the usual news release from the U.S. government.  The launch just described occurred on February 27, 2012.  The Minuteman III ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and landed at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  The Air Force regularly conducts such test launches, as does the Navy for its Trident II (D5) submarine launched ballistic missiles (135 successful Trident test launches since 1989).
What we'd like to see!
And now the Air Force just announced another test shot from Vandenberg scheduled for May 16th.  I suppose that besides making weapons manufacturers very rich - each Trident missile costs roughly $70 million,while the Minuteman III is $7 million - the government wants to ensure that if the President orders the launch of these missiles armed with thermonuclear warheads, they will work as designed.  Now that's a comforting thought.

One can imagine how long it will take North Korea to get to the point at which it can launch one of its own missiles and expect it to reach its target with any reliability at all.  The U.S., on the other hand, has been conducting test launches of ballistic missiles for decades.  Based on the percentage of successful tests of its currently deployed ballistic missiles, there should be little need for such regular testing.  When doomsday comes, I have no doubt that the missiles will launch when the buttons are pushed.

On the eve of Tax Day here in the U.S. perhaps this is a good time to ask where our hard-earned money would be better spent - testing weapons designed to kill millions of people or supporting programs that support life.  After spending trillions on nuclear weapons, isn't it time to say ENOUGH?

No more test launches.  No new uranium facilities.  No new plutonium pit facilities.  No new (Kansas City) bomb plant.  No new ballistic missile submarines.  No new nukes!!!!!!!!!!!! Otherwise, there will be no future.

Occupy Vandenberg on May 16th!!!  No more nuclear weapon systems testing!!!