The other dark side of the nuclear force

(To Julian Carax)
26/04/21

Strenuous defenders of a reasoning subjectivity, in times when freedom of thought rises to a relative heterodirected value, we bask in observing the flow of events from the multiple perspectives offered by the faces of a prism. The fine lovers of rock (old sport!), in the resolution on lunar and still full and powerful dark side by Pink Floyd, they will certainly remember on the cover - with a tear well spent in memory of timeless music - the refracted polychrome beam. It's the reality: it's up to us, being careful not to be too much confortably numb, to grasp the correct ray, the one that makes nuclear power and its contradictory aspirations shine with a dusty light: on the one hand weapons of mass destruction, on the other energetic-economic and environmental reasons, war asymmetries more and more marked than only nuclear can compensate, and a boundary between military and civil uses made increasingly blurred by the fascinating but confused concept of dual use1, increasingly used to rain as an insipid filler of demagogic prolusions.

It is an unspeakable necessity, but nuclear energy cannot be dispensed with; just look at the countries with the most disruptive demographics in the MO, where extreme environmental conditions, climate and water desalination impose their diktats and where it is necessary to make a greater quantity of hydrocarbons available for export.

The other dark side of the nuclear force, is that the proliferation of atomic weapons is taking place and will continue by virtue of a policy of the great powers that is far from shrewd and not in line with a thought similar to that of Kenneth Waltz, who would certainly have hoped for powers imperial superiors who control the regional nuclear proliferation of their own customers. A first strategic consequence is emerging, which sees Russia managing nuclear power in the MENA area, while the EU and the US remain tied to the oil market.

Focus on the Persian Gulf: in the UAE the last dome of the first nuclear power plant in the Arabian Peninsula was completed2 (photo), thanks to the work of South Korea, while Saudi Arabia is also positioned on the same wavelength, intending to build 16 nuclear power plants by 2032, the year coinciding with the Saudi Arabia's Vision, bearer of the redemption from hydrocarbon extraction and export. Geoeconomically, the energy diversification of the Gulf countries involves a multidimensional strategy, which ranges from energy import projects3 up to internal investments in the solar and nuclear sectors, to guarantee indispensable self-sufficiency.

The second nuclear era, which also sees as protagonists states dependent on imports of energy resources otherwise substitutable with the energy produced by their own reactors, has begun, and it is worthwhile to keep in mind its lines and nuances.

To the 5 nuclear powers Legal4 members of the UN Security Council, three other undeclared ones have been added5, more Nations border line6, as well as countries that have expressly renounced the nuclear option7, while the US and Russia have reduced the number of warheads to modernize the remaining ones, amplifying their effects and lethality; It is useful to recall how bipolarity represented, in its nuclear meaning, both a factor of stability and an element of risk, as demonstrated by the crises of Cuba in '62 and Kargil in '99.

We are in an era of expansion, which includes states that have crossed the threshold, states that yearn to do so, non-state political subjects eager to seize anything that looks like a nuclear warhead or a cheaper bomb. dirty8.

The relevance of nuclear weapons lies not so much in their genre, but in those who claim dominion over them and are able to exercise effective command and control even from the cyber aspect; the concern is not inherent in proliferation, characterized by a discrimen political, as well as in the possession by regimes that are insensitive to the recall of the rules and consequently genetically inclined to support any terrorist initiative, regimes that are in fact intangible once the point of no return of the acquisition of nuclear weapons has passed. Analyzing the general picture, several conclusions are reached; the first is that there are geopolitical actors who solicit fewer ambitions than others, an eventuality confirmed by Saudi Arabia, pushed to consider acquiring a nuclear umbrella not because of Israel, which did not light any nuclear star on the MO even during the 73 Yom Kippur War, but with the willfulness of the Shiite crescent; the second is that two antithetical incentives are triggered: the first is the preventive use of force as a means of anti-proliferation9, and the second is the rapid crossing of the nuclear threshold as a guarantee of immunity.

Now the two great fallen ones: primarily la deterrence, like the Pakistani one, minimal and credible (Photo); if deterrence based its rationale on the fact that atomic weaponry was useful because, in great strategic relations, it was not used, now the asymmetry of the second nuclear age makes it obsolete; in secundis, theaccess to technology which, in the face of the apparent renunciation of atomic armament, allows the development of know how nuclear for peaceful purposes, only to allow the withdrawal from the treaties in any case once the time has come for the transition to military use. In this perspective, the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) has highlighted its limits, with the increase in the number of nuclear weapons holders from 6 to 9, without counting the Iranian aspirations, according to a trend that has revealed the difficulties of a order perceived as unequal.

While on the one hand South Africa voluntarily abandoned its nuclear heritage, and at the time neither Iraq nor Libya was allowed to complete the atomic preparations, without counting Algeria, on the other hand the tests conducted by India, Pakistan and North Korea witnessed both the difficulty of controlling NP and the difficulties connected with a series of inevitable considerations; theoretically, materials, technology and skills necessary for uranium enrichment can be used not only to produce energy10, but also to develop nuclear weapons in a few months.

The more uranium is rich, less will be needed for the construction of weapons, thus allowing the availability of smaller and lighter warheads on carriers capable of traveling greater distances; there is also the way of producing plutonium, a naturally absent element, which can be differentiated into plutonium for reactors, extracted from spent fuel and exposed for years to radiation in a nuclear reactor, and plutonium for weapons, extracted from spent fuel and transferred to a reactor ad hoc with a design different from the classic nuclear reactor, and which requires relatively little time to produce radioactive material for war purposes.

But how long would it take for a country on average evolved to make a nuclear device in emergency conditions? A western country, already in possession of nuclear equipment of peace at least 6 months, otherwise, with due external technical assistance, a period of time extended over no more than 2 years.

However, the Gordian knots remain two: i carriers, for which it takes at least 15 years of R&D unless they are received by other means, an event that cannot be dismissed a priori especially in the Arabian Peninsula, and the miniaturization of bombs, necessary to adapt the warhead, all elements of which, at the moment, no country of the MO has the proprietary technology necessary to allow, among other things, ballistic launches into space, except for Jericho III Israelis, or for submarine-launched missiles Dolphin (photo). The most productive reaction, in the event of an insurgent threat, remains preventive sabotage.

Nuclear capacity must therefore be considered in relation to the purposes of the country, to the maintenance or, on the contrary, to the distortion of existing balances, according to different specificities on which to calibrate strategic capabilities.11, associating technological innovations. If Pakistan and India aim at regional hegemony, Israel's aims refer to its isolation and the possibility of causing, in the event of an attack, the destruction of neighboring Arab countries.12; persistent conflict must also be considered as a function of variable of the Ayatollahs, often facilitated by European political visions that are too economic and not very strategic, and in contrast with the reassuring statements about the development of an energy production program that is not very compatible with the results achieved with the updated versions of the missile Shahab, both with cooperation with Pyongyang which could lead to the acquisition of the North Korean ICBM Taepodong-2.

A nuclear conflict involving one of the five nuclear powers Legal remains unlikely, although there are always latent possibilities that advise against emptying the arsenals and that direct research towards further weapon systems, such as hypersonic ones13 capable of conferring a significant technological, tactical and strategic advantage, capable of breaking the A2 / AD bubbles, and on which China maintains a conventional / nuclear ambiguity, in order to alter the logic of enemy deterrence; more feasible are regional nuclear conflicts - nucler threshold14 - between Iran, which has resumed its atomic program, and Israel15; between India and Pakistan which, not having joined the NPT, share a 1.800-mile border; North Korea, withdrew from the NPT in 2003.

Looking at the most recent data, Middle Eastern countries are the ones investing the most in nuclear power. Iran plays on the atomic bomb to make available additional quotas of crude oil, extend the life of oil wells, exploit an autonomous dual use able to guarantee an asymmetrical power projection capable of compensating for the shortcomings of the conventional Artesh16, also resorting to supports proxy, such as those of Hezbollah in Lebanon (monitored by Israel) and underground missile preparations along the coasts.

Tehran's rationale, which began to cultivate the atomic dream already during the Shah regime and which is enriching uranium in the Natanz, Fordow and Isfahan plants, is therefore to consider nuclear power as a threat against Israel or part of the world. Sunni, forcing the antagonists into a kind of tactical isolation, and relegating Israel to the role of strategic hostage. The more countries develop nuclear capabilities and build their own arsenal, the more competition will shift from Israeli-Iranian bipolarity to multi-state rivalry. The nuclear policy of Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf countries is therefore not aimed only at economic development, but also at containing Iran, which for Israel rises to the role of existential danger, for the USA to that of strategic risk, for which it would be however sensible, regardless of the current course of the Vienna meetings, to analyze the upcoming Iranian presidential elections in June, taking into account that, even according to Blinken, the structure of the JCPOA is no longer suitable for containing Persian expansionism; it is therefore conceivable the realization of a Middle Eastern scenario characterized by nuclear forces extended from Arabia to Iran, a geographical contiguity however insufficient to ensure compliance with the MAD theory17 given the unstable, multipolar and asymmetrical context, with the presence of Israel, Egypt18 and the wandering Turkey, which, already hosting a NATO nuclear arsenal, paws for one Ottoman, so much so that it has already begun the construction of its own nuclear power plant19, wisely positioned in a seismic area. All this without counting the political weight that Russia will certainly exercise, thanks to the work of Rosatom, the company that will build the plants.

Using an easy joke, it could be argued that the picture of the nuclear situation could not have been more active, and leads to considerations inevitably imbued with legitimate concern for assessments that are not always so centered.

However, one wonders what to expect if for some .. ..there is not the slightest clue that it does think that nuclear power will ever become accessible, because that would involve being able to split the atom on command20, and saw that the energy produced by the atom is a very small thing. Whoever expects a source of energy from the transformation of these atoms is talking nonsense21...

Trust me ...

1 See India in the 60s and the development of the first atomic bomb; USA - USSR, cold war and development of technologies useful for "bring man into space", But also to build intercontinental missiles.

2 Barakah, in the western part of the country near the Saudi border and Qatar

3 Saudi support for the construction of the Ethiopian GERD dam

4 As considered as such by the NPT of 1968

5 India, Pakistan and Israel

6 North Korea, Iran

7 Brazil, Argentina and South Africa

8 Radiological weapons are weapons designed to spread radioactive material with the intent of contaminating, killing and causing damage to the territory and population. They are not true nuclear weapons and do not have the same destructive potential.

9 Iraqi reactor Osiris (Osirak). Operation Opera; surprise airstrike conducted by the Israeli Air Force on June 7, 1981, accompanied by covert action against the scientists and companies involved; September 6, 2007, Operation Outside The Box. Israel attacks atomic site in Deir Ez Zour, in Syria in which North Korea collaborates. 2 July 2020. An explosion devastates the pavilion for the assembly of nuclear centrifuges in Natanz, Iran; repeated attack in April 2021; November 27, 2020, killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of Tehran's nuclear program, as well as the "godfather of the nuclear deal"

10 Breakout time: refers to the estimated time a country with an existing enrichment plant would need to produce enough Highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon or military reactor; uranium is a mix of two isotopes: uranium-235 (U-235) and uranium-238 (U-238). Countries with nuclear ambitions, peaceful or not, must first increase the proportion of U-235 in their uranium samples through enrichment, which is most commonly done in gas centrifuges

11 Eg intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or short-range missiles (SRBMs).

12 Samson option

13 The Russian Avangard and the Chinese DF-17 aimed at carrying the DF-ZF hypersonic glider, represent the first two hypersonic rocket-propelled weapons in active service. US hypersonic technology cannot yet boast the same state of the art; to date, no glider missile tested is in active service phase. On the Avangard, however, technical criticalities were found regarding a problem of the load capacity of the vector carrying the hypersonic glider. Current liquid fuel ICBMs have insufficient capacity, while new intercontinental missiles (RS-24) have insufficient range. By launching the first, dozens of warheads are sacrificed for hypersonic use, which highlights the Russian intent to minimize the weight and size of the re-entry vehicle. In addition to this, hypersonic weapons for tactical use are being developed, such as the Kinzhal anti-ship ballistic missile, aircraft launchable (MiG-31BM) with an operational range of 2.000 kilometers and a speed close to Mach 10.

14 Nuclear threshold power

15 He never joined the NPT

16 Iranian FAs

17 Mutual Assured Destruction

18 El Dabaa power plant

19 Akkuyu

20 A. Einstein

21 E. Rutherford

Photo: web / Wikiemirati / ISPR / IDF / IRNA