Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by kmguru, Jul 17, 2001.

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  1. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Kmguru why do we have to have NMD to reduce nukes?

    From what I gather you are saying that we need a missile defense shied to reduce our nuclear weapons stockpile. WE DON'T! If anything this will accidently raise the stockpile, or keep it deployed longer because the Chinese and Russians will build HUGE numbers of nuclear warheads. Sounds familiar? Its called the Cold War, 1945-1991, period of high tensions between the two superpowers. All we need is to have THREE superpowered countries with different aims. Someone will shoot each other, and we don't want that.

    To have a successful nuclear deterrent we only need a HUNDRED nuclear bombs at the most. Our highest yield bombs that are actively destroyed would incinerate Washington D.C. its suburbs and break windows in Baltimore. Think of what just two nukes could do to one country. If New York alone was hit by a nuke, kiss America's future good bye. A well placed strike would destroy the financial nerve center of this country and the world. Depression #2, END GAME.

    We need to trust, and I use trust loosely other countries. As I said before this makes us look like we're saying hey lets be friends, but don't screw with me. What kind of friendship is this. I hope someone checked out the earlier post I made, that includes a link about future US, Russian, and Chinese relations.

    We don't need NMD!
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  3. kmguru Staff Member

    thecurley1 said: "Kmguru why do we have to have NMD to reduce nukes? "

    I explained it before. I am sorry to say, if you did not get it, your career in Politics (specially to be the Commander-in-Chief) does not look too promising. If you want to go ahead and make friends with the communists, go for it. Good Luck and God bless you.

    (Oops, the communists do not believe in God and hence the word Trust. Hope you do not change out motto from "In God we Trust" to something else)

    No offense intended
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  5. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member


    I had kind of hoped with the last post that someone would say the word warmonger and get me started. Actually kmguru stole part of my thunder. That's ok. It wasn't all.

    You see there is a lot here that isn't being seen. Just the surface is there like the iceberg. Not only is the replacement of shielding material a hassle to maintain it is costly. And not just for us.

    1. In the life of the missile it has to have a lot of maintenance to make sure it's ready to go. Every one of them does. That's teams of military people on call 24 hours a day.
    2. The silos are maintenance extensive. Wiring, elevator, communications, food stockpile, air and filtering system, power, computers, all have to be maintained. Every one of them. And frequently tested to verify it works as intended.
    3. The shields are radioactive. Guess what? That's nuclear waste we're talking and it has to be stored. Hauling it in for where ever in the country. You want to talk expensive? This stuff ain't goin' nowhere for the next millennia. And someone has to keep an eye on it. (Talk about a job for life!)
    4. Actually this is the peanuts stuff. But I can go on and on if necessary. Just to give an idea of the scope which leans you to the idea that it isn't free and once it's up and running the expense isn't over with by a long shot.
    5. Then there is the security required. Remember Russia and it's breakup? With money and living costs being such a problem a couple of rouge generals thought it would be nice to have a nest egg. Iraq almost bought one! It was intercepted and the plan fouled at the last minute. Now doesn’t that make you feel comfy? They also bought nuclear triggering devices from the maker for the US weapons. Trigger devices are some of the tightest controlled items and requires a high level of sophistication just to build one. That one was intercepted in route. No nukes would mean none of the above but we're not finished yet.
    6. The SALT treaty, Nonproliferation Agreement, and the ABM missile treaties have to some extent already been broken. No not all of it by Bush. How do you think India and Pakistan got their tech? They would have you believe that they developed it. Nope, certain key points were passed to them to help them along. Strange isn't it, India goes to test its bomb and there is Pakistan a few weeks later doing the same thing. Hate to shatter your bubble but that was not accident. Nor was it coincidence. A big show was put on for the world to believe they developed it. Do you really believe that there are no multiwarhead missiles lying around? With the major powers knowing how to build them? You can bet they're hidden away but available at a moment’s notice. But they are not out on the line to be counted.
    7. Give the man some credit. I don't think he is smart enough to come up with the answers himself. That's for his advisors to do. But it does nicely get rid of aging missiles and make them count for something at the same time.
    8. Now to the problem of the Mexican Standoff. The big problem. This is the delicate part. The thorny one. It will take some serious negotiation to bring this part about. It is imperative that all parties to the negotiation are equal. (No super power or posturing) It is imperative that they understand that the shield will be given to them for the price of removal of a major part of their arsenal. To do this there has to be a working shield. No shield, no deal. All reductions of armament must be third party verifiable. It should be understood that aggression by any party will not be tolerated and the remaining two will turn on the turncoat in self-interest. This should eliminate most of the sub carrying units and the majority of the silo and mobile units. The remaining missiles should be located where all parties can look down by satellite at each other’s units. And it should be heavily defended. Satellites should be setup where there is no lack of overlap in viewing time. We have reached the point were it is no longer safe to war, especially with nuclear devices. We should also act like it.
    This may be to optimistic but I have high hopes that self interest should be a driving factor. Recognition of problems, such as Russia's lack of funds to see to it that their part of the deal is upheld should be recognized and dealt with prior to the actual mothballing of this capability.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2001
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  7. kmguru Staff Member

    BRAVO O! Wet1, you outdid yourself this time

    Excellently done. The problem with this type of forum is that some have a lot more background information than others who are not working with a full deck. We forgive them because in case of SDI, some informations are classified or generally not known.

    If I did not have graduate courses in Nuclear Engineering, and just a 2nd grade teacher, I would not have understood why nukes leak or that what is the difference between U235 and U238 and so on.

    During the early seventies I met a few very young and well meaning people that were part of an anti-nuclear rally in Boston. When one of them trying to scare me about the nuclear energy, I asked if they know anything about how they work. I got bits and pieces of true and false information that they were using to make their case. Funny thing about knowledge is that "Little Knowledge is Dangerous" and hence very little knowledge is.....

    That is for now....
  8. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Don't think so...

    If this was about reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles, Bush would have said it upfront. Why we are planning to build SDI is really beyond me, because I don't buy the rouge nation threat. Russia has actually done better at reducing their nuke stockpile than we have, the richest country in the world.

    The reason SDI is dangerous is because a "minimal intercepting shield" would render China's arsenal impotent since its so small. This would urge them to build a lot more nukes with other commie satellites such as, N. Korea, Vietnam, and maybe another treaty with the former Soviet Union. This proliferation won't stop at just communist nations. We will be fighting a undesirable front through third-world nations. With lots of nukes being available. Iraq and Iran will have nukes soon, Libya, the Palestinians. and God knows who else. Then there could me more weapons given to countries by the west, Taiwan, South Africa, so on and so fourth. We are sewing the seeds to a nuke war between little countries. This would be devastating.

    This sparks another arms race we're screwed. We are EXTREMELY lucky to have survived the last one, who knows if we'll be so lucky this time. Every one knows you don't need a lot of weapons to be a threat, that's why we should reduce without a shield. The less weapons, yes, the less expense. Geez, any country that would want to be feared would need ten bombs, let a lone a thousand, or ten thousand in the US's case.

    The economy is going south, and the Senate is currently controlled by the democrats who will vote along party lines against SDI. Weather this changes after '02 is different. I hope this never passes.

    As for you and me Kmguru, thanks again for your encouragement on me being a politician. Power is a tempting proposition, but I should probably think about this a bit more seriously when I graduate. Thanks again guys for responding,

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  9. kmguru Staff Member

    thecurley1: "Why we are planning to build SDI is really beyond me"

    IT IS. But thanks for trying to stay in the game.
  10. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Bush is not going to say that. Not in politics. Too many toes to step on. Do you notice that everytime a new report comes out it’s somehow a little screwy? A little out of line with the last stance? You’re a bright feller-me-lad, figure it out.

    So what’s China going to do while we’re building intercepts? Multihead? Uh, was that a threat? How can you threaten to do something and it have effect when you’ve already done it? What do you think all that crap about Dr. Woo, or whatever his name was, and the unsecure keeping of “sensitive data” was about?

    As far as the economy. The economy does not roll over and do a sustained nose dive. Usually you have this long period of rise and fall. It took that long for Clinton’s policies to have an effect. And there are more coming. It will also take about the time Dubba comes out of office to get it straight. It’s the way the game’s played.
  11. rde Eukaryotic specimen Registered Senior Member

    No-one's doubting that nukes are bad. Or that they're proliferating. What I can't see is why y'all are convinced that NMD is a viable alternative.
    Bush has stated categorically that this has nothing to do with Russia or China. If that's the case, then the US's nuclear arsenal exists primarily to counter the perceived threats from those nations. Therefore NMD is wholly unrelated to disarmament.

    Let's suppose there are lots of rogue nations out there, all hell-bent on nuking Washington. Let's further suppose that there is no NMD. How will a few more aging nukes in the US' prodigous arsenal act as a deterrent? Does anyone really think the US is in danger of running out?

    Disarmament, if Bush wanted it, could take place without NMD. Again: NMD is wholly unrelated to disarmament.
  12. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

    Hi all,

    First of all, kmguru, your reply to you post a while back (sorry, I was quite busy the last days).

    Well, as a matter of fact, we have about 40 (yes, forty) of US nuclear missiles piled up at a military base at about... 40 km/30 miles from my home. I just happen to know an ex-commander of that base, and the things I heard of him really scare the hell out of me: About 6 or 7 years ago he told me that one day the nukes were loaded to several aircraft, waiting for a "go" to get deployed. It never happened - luckily enough. (As a sidenote: I do not entirely fully believe that story, but there's always a bit of truth in there). These kind of situations make me oppose nukes in the first place.

    However, I prefer nukes in my backyard above a NMD.

    The reason why there are nukes in your and mine backyard is because there are ridiciously many nuclear weapons in the world (I am pretty sure we can flatten the earth a few hundreds times over). This is ofcourse a direct consequence of the cold war and the nuclear arms race. However, several actions have been taken since the 70's to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, and if I am not mistaken, former president Clinton was taking several more steps to reduce the number of US and Russian nukes. If there are less nukes (let's say the US and Russia both have 200) there's no need to store them anywhere near civilians. After all, the Russians and the Chinese are allies (something I am not sure Bush realizes) so why should there be nukes at the west coast of the US pointing to the Russia and China ? If only rogue nations in the middle east are the problem, then it hardly matters if the nukes are stored somewhere in the dessert and have to travel an additional 500 or 1000 km. Rogue nations barely have the ability to construct a nuclear weapon, let alone create their own private NMD to destroy US warheads (by which I want to say: if the US should retaliate, the rogue nation *would* be flattened).

    Now, a NMD is being developed, and Russia and China will certainly increase their number of nukes. I am pretty certain that the US will eventually follow, just in case the NMD should fail in case of a nuclear event, so an equal retaliation can be done. Consequence: more nukes in both our backyards.

    Conclusion: The three major nuclear forces in the world just need to lower their nuclear arsenal to a few hundred nukes - more than enough to flatten the world one time (well, no nukes would be ideal, but I don't think any political leader would agree). This would mean:
    • Less nukes in our backyards.
    • There's still a "mutual asserted destruction".
    • World stability

    With a NMD:
    • More nukes.
    • Still a "mutual asserted destruction" (you don't really believe ALL nukes will be destroyed by a NMD in case of a nuclear war?)
    • World instability

    This is perhaps a simple picture of the situation (I know myself enough to know I am naive and optimistic), but I think the essence holds.

    About your U235, U238 question: The U238 used for shielding is "depleted" uranium (this means that it contains only a small fraction of the more radioactive U235). The reason why it has to be depleted is because the Uranium found in nature essentially contains two isotopes of Uranium, U238 and the dangerous U235. U238 is still radioactive, but it is a very dense material, which is exactly why it is used in airplanes, sailing boats and less peacefully, in bullet shielding. Because U238 is so dense (the densest material known I believe) the radiation emitted is re-absorbed by the U238, leading to a negligible amount of radiation released to the surrounding (by negligible I mean that the radiation is a factor 10 or 100 lower than the standard background radiation). As a sidenote I would like to add that the absorbing effect of U238 is lost when the material is vaporized (for example: in a bullet impact... ) - but that's another story.

    U235 on the other hand is the dangerous stuff. The U235 used in nuclear weapons is enriched, meaning that as much U238 as possible has been removed. I am not completely aware of the biological effects of radiation (perhaps I *should* take that "Medicine for physicists" course next year

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    ), but since U235 does not have the absorbing character U238 has, so much more radiation is emitted to the environment. So concerning the leakage of radiation by nuclear missiles: ironically you can only hope they are shielded by the same material that gives them their explosive power (shielded by U238, explosion by U235).

    Comments/Corrections are welcome

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  13. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Ah, but it isn't. It's a matter of perception. Why do think everyone is disagreeing? I can not think that there is one in this discussion that would think if they had a choice and could totally wipe the knowledge of such warfare out of humankind’s abilities that would not. (This includes the offending weapons)

    I think part of the problem here is that the vision is a little shortsighted. Another part is that this is a razor-thin balance in which any tipping of the seesaw is scary ground. We're talking survival here. But to get out of this dilemma we have to do something or sooner or later we will be back to cold war days as some political entity or government goes to fill the gap.

    Today are just a few missiles; tomorrow may well be a SDI with laser or particle beam defense. Cost, that is thrown around by all of us needs also to be looked at in maybe a different light. Through out history governments have financed that which has been too expensive for individuals and businesses. Can you imagine what a boondoggle people of the time must have thought of Queen Isabelle financing a trip looking for the Indies route? I'm sure there are better examples but the mind is not cooperating this am.
  14. rde Eukaryotic specimen Registered Senior Member

    1: Certainly cost shouldn't be an overriding factor for projects that are for the betterment of humanaity as long as they've a reasonable chance of working. I hate using phrases like 'cost/benefit ratio', but they are applicable. However, this won't better humanity, and the cost - not just in research, but in concomitant escalations - will be ridiculous.
    2: SDI with particle beams? Great. Then the Chinese and the Russians will send anti-satellite weapons into orbit, and we've got a brand new arms race. Granted, this is happening at the moment to a minor degree, but SDI would mean a major escalation. Is this really worth having 5% fewer nukes on the planet? (a proposition, btw, on which you still haven't convinced me).
  15. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    I guess what I'm after is a way to reduce the amount worldwide of necular material used for destruction. At the same time to increase the security of the world, especially the nations with a multitude of this capability of destruction vs those without. It is after all a prickly issue even when veiwed by the responce to this thread.

    So now it is time to ask the readers of these posts because I can not believe that everyone is satisfied with status quo. In fact in the long haul I refuse to believe that something esle can not be come up with that is workable to all envolved besides MAD. If we are to live and continue to do so for future generations then something has to give.
  16. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Thanks Kmguru I try

    I didn't mean that the whole SDI idea was above me in intelligent, but I do think its a stupid pipe dream that could do serious damage to the world if it succeeds. This whole damn mess started out with Regain's proposition, even then it was flawed. SDI didn't work in the traditional sense.

    But the SDI program did work in ending the Cold War, and subsequently the Soviet Union before the 1990s. Though the Soviet Union's economy was on the verge of collapse in 1983 when this was proposed, it really went down hill when they tried to create their own SDI and build more nukes. I think this was more a cleaver ploy to bankrupt the Soviets by having them build more weapons to counter a defensive shield by the US and her allies.

    We don't need a SDI shield! Disarmament can continue without any protection, MAD insures this. Why any country with more than fifty nuclear weapons should be scared about reducing their stockpiles is stupid. Nukes are such potent weapons that they haven't been used since the end of WWII because they will destroy unimaginable amounts of land, and millions or billions of people in the long run. A nuclear war is "unlikely". Could it happen, of course. But we survived fifty plus years of relative peace time with thousands of nuclear bombs ready to blow, why with a few less bombs we are ready to politically destabilize the world is just retarded.

    In the years when this is finished, we will all be extremely sorry to see what has happened to the world. THIS IS GONING TO SPARK AN ARMS RACE AND THE SECOND COLD WAR WITH CHINA IF THIS ISN'T SHOT DOWN BY CONGRESS. I didn't want this with Clinton, and I don't want it with Bush.

    We are going into a recession, Bush, Greenspan, and Toucan Sam couldn't stop this if they tried. We'll be in less happy times for the next few years, no big deal we've had worse. Actually maybe this will make some people realize how lucky they had it and teach them not to squander money.

    Please all of you take an un-biased look at SDI, I hope you draw the conclusion I have.

    P.S. Russia and China signed a Friendship Treaty, theres a Reuters' link in one of my earlier replies. This doesn't look good. Please check it out.
  17. Deadwood Registered Senior Member

    I'm kinda butting in here but...

    Isn't the ABM Pact between Russia(or Soviet Union) and the US? So isn't it possible that as we speak China could be developing some ABM program. I am sure they have secret projects. One of my friends told me a few years ago that they were making lasers to blind enemy pilots.
  18. kmguru Staff Member


    China is building and stock piling nukes. They are getting better by virtue of latest microprocessors they can yank out from Sony playstation (I think 128 bit). Same with Laser. The anti-SDI people argue that just as Russia and US are under a MAD program, as soon as China has an equivalent number of nukes, we will be in a threeway MAD program whether we have signed any agreement or not. And hence SDI will not buy us anything and we will spend a few billion unnecessary dollars.

    My point is not based on MAD but pragmatism. If we develop SDI, then Chinese will do the same, which is OK. But for Chinese to do that, their industry infrastructure needs to get beefed up (because of the complexities involved). To do that they will be buying a lot of stuff from us. May be Chinese will sell us a few SDI weapons. My point is let the whole planet have those. Then if there is a asteroid stike, we can blow them apart on a planetary scale.

    Yes, China does have heavy Laser research and the rumor is that they flashed on to one of our clandestine operations.
  19. Teri1 Registered Member

    To everyone who has contributed to this thread,

    I've just read the whole thread and have been shaking my head in disbelief (and fear). I am not a feminist, but with this topic, (and I'm not saying I understood everything that was written), I'm scared to death that the decision makers relating to nuclear weapons and defense issues are predominantly men. Do you think that if Governments of all countries were run by women this thread would even exist? I don't think so. Sure, there are some women who are aggressive, but the percentage is small and most of us would rather take care of Mother Earth than destroy it.
    I'm not looking to offend any of you but, the subject matter is really frightening. "Peace on Earth and goodwill to man" sounds pretty good to me.
  20. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Teri ... You've got to be kidding!
    Old Mother Nature has made sure that ALL females, mammal ones at least, are a hell of a lot more aggressive than any male under certain circumstances - Particularly when protecting their ankle biters - and homo sap. isn't excluded.

    The thing of it is, they're a lot smarter too! So they send their husbands and sons off to battle. And it's been noted for a long time. Why else would Homer (I think) have the scene where Mom tells her son who's going off to battle "Come back carrying your shield ... or on it."

    Yeah, the 'gentler, less aggressive sex'! Tell me another one.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2001
  21. Deadwood Registered Senior Member

    Actually, Teri, I would have to disagree. I have thought about what the world would be like if mostly women were in power. I came to the conclusion, and my mum helped me with this to, that when you give women power they are usually are picky to those underneath them. Also, women talk a lot behind each others backs, to see an example just watch big brother. All of the females bitch behind each others backs. Most of them in the Australian one were worried about the house being "one big bitch fest". I have gotten all of this info so far from women.

    Also, it is mostly women who suffer from road rage. When something doesn't go their way, women don't like that at all. Women are also less compomising (in my experience anyway).

    Also, if mostly women were in power, they would descriminate men and patronise them. This is from experience also. Women like to talk amongst themselves and care only for their gender. All men are responsible for their problems. If only their were no men then all of the worlds troubles would just go away.

    Also women take things a lot more personally. Which is how I know I'm going to get flamed. To give a life experience. One english class we were all told to write down the things that come to mind about the opposite sex. While the guys say what they wrote dosn, you say all the girls mouths open wide in surprise and disgust. Then when it is their turn, all us guys just burst out with laughter. The girls gave us worser, but hey we just found it funny and in good humour.

    Now I know I am going to get flamed heaps for what I have written, but I get this info mostly from women I've spoken to and personal experience.

    Interesting to note, that if all I said were aimed at men, there would be no problem, but since its women I'm going to be called sexist. Oh well.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2001
  22. kmguru Staff Member

    I am in agreement with Chagur and Deadwood, sorry ladies, based on my experience in the business world. While women are intuitive in certain matters (like business projections), my experience is that they can not handle being the boss.

    Just one example. I had a lady programmer who was very good at what she did and took the initiative and leadership among the peers. I promoted her to be the supervisor of the team. We had several other female members in the team. It became so bad that in 2 months I had to demote her otherwise everybody would have quit. I have many personal experience like that.

    Everyday, it was a soap opera. I could write a screen play on it.
  23. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    From Worldbook 2000: "Military expenditures - dollar figure: $12.608 billion (FY99); note - Western analysts believe that China's real defense spending is several times higher than the official figure because a number of significant items are funded elsewhere." They are spending a lot more cash than we think. Maybe so much in the military that they are already setting the PRC up for bankrupcey. Who knows. I still don't believe in an SDI system.

    I still think lowering stockpiles can be achieved w/out SDI. If you build SDI for reducing nukes, isn't that more money than its worth?
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