Hans Blix, Call Your Office


Such the deal with Iran, Barry.  Seems there’s an opening for a doddering, pliable, easily-fooled IAEA inspector.

Iran has already stated that no American inspector would be permitted into the country under the deal. The accord also grants Iran a 24-day notice period before inspectors enter any site suspected of being used for nuclear weapons work.

“Any individual, out of IAEA’s Inspection group, who is not approved by the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot enter the country as the agency’s inspector,”

The billions are already pouring into Iran’s economy, where they will be spent as promptly as possible on the latest Russian CDCM and air defense systems.  The diplomatic incompetence, Islamist sympathizing, and anti-Israeli (anti-Semitic) rhetoric of this Administration is profound.  In fact, little more damage could be done if the entire Administration was comprised of Soviet agents.  With Obama’s former Secretary of State (is there really “secret” somewhere in that title?) ensuring our enemies are read into SI and TK, a Soviet agent would be Hero of the Soviet Union for such deeds.   How bad is this deal?

“Administration claims that this was the best possible agreement are pathetic. First Kerry abandoned anytime, anywhere inspections,” Rubin said. “Then Obama claimed this was the most rigorous counter-proliferation regime ever, never mind that it failed to rise to the Libya and South Africa precedents.”

“Then we learned that no Americans are allowed on the inspection teams and that Iran will do its own soil sampling,” Rubin added. “Now the Iranians claim that all IAEA inspectors have to be vetted by Iranian intelligence? It really can’t get any worse than this.”

Current Secretary of State John Kerry, last seen happily roaming around a Communist dictatorship in a Che Guevara t-shirt, could not be reached for comment.   Sokolnikov and Bubov, er, McConnell and Boehner, will ensure that the treaty cannot be overturned by Congressional action, as the Constitution requires.

Enemies, domestic.  All ethnics, no ethics.

The Iran Nuclear Deal

Welp, chalk up another stunning foreign diplomacy victory for the Obama administration. He’s successfully negotiated with a country we’ve been unable to deal with diplomatically since 1979.*

Of course, the problem is, the Obama/Kerry foreign policy brain trust reached this historic agreement with Iran by simply capitulating to virtually every Iranian demand.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBvIg_zRgiY]

Worse still, our own Republican controlled United States Senate has jiggered the rules to make it virtually impossible for the Congress to halt implementation of this agreement.

One of the first effects of the deal will be the lifting of sanctions on Iran, which will result in an immediate cash infusion of about $100 billion dollars into the Iranian economy. You’ll note that the administration claims this money will go solely to improving Iran’s economy. Well, yeah, maybe. Some will undoubtedly go to funding terrorist proxies that are fighting the US and its allies. And of course, the secondary effects of an improvement in the Iranian economy include increased internal stability in Iran (lo for the days when the US might have actually supported the nascent Green Revolution and weakened or overturned the ayatollahs regime) and of course, since money is fungible, the already existing outlays by Iran to support terror will have even less domestic impact on their economy. That is, if they can afford to support terror while under economic sanctions, how will improving their economy make it harder for them to continue to export terror?

Europe, of course, is willing to go along with this, as they suspect that a fair percentage of these billions of dollars will be spent buying from Europe.  And Europe is so desperate to support their own social welfare programs that taking Iranian money makes sense to them, particularly as they labor under the misconception that the United States is and perpetually will continue to be the guarantor of their security.

Iran for its part, once in possession of nuclear weapons, need not actually employ them to achieve their foreign policy goals. Much as Pakistan and North Korea intuited, mere possession of a valid nuclear force renders any possibility of invasion moot.  Far from this agreement steering Iran to enter the fold of the nations of the world, it gives Iran a shield from behind which to further attack its neighbors and adversaries.

Of course, a nuclear armed Iran poses an existential threat to many nations in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia. A nuclear arms race is virtually guaranteed, and we already know that Saudi Arabia is likely to simply purchase weapons off the shelf from Pakistan, whose program they are widely thought to have helped finance in the first place. Other nations in the Gulf might similarly procure weapons.  And as anyone who has studies nuclear proliferation and nuclear war strategy quickly finds, the risk of a nuclear power making a decision to use a nuclear weapon goes up very quickly as the number of possessor nations increases. Sooner or later, instability or poor strategic decision making leads a “player” in the nuclear game to the conclusion that using nuclear weapons is a better option than not using them. When that eventually comes to pass, there will be no telling where it may end.

But hey, Obama and Kerry get to tout a major foreign policy accomplishment, establishing an enduring legacy of accomplishment. And that’s really the important thing here.


*With the exception of the Iran/Contra deal.

June 25th, 1950


Today marks the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.  Most of us here know that the war itself has not ended, that the DPRK and the ROK remain in a state of war, temporarily becalmed by an armistice signed in July of 1953.

The war was fought by Veterans of World War II, as well as their little brothers.  There were more than 36,000 US killed in action among the more than 130,000 American casualties in that war, many times the order of magnitude of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  In just over three years.   There are lessons aplenty from that war regarding preparedness, combat training, leadership, and budget-driven assumptions.

There are several superlative works on the Korean War, fiction and non-fiction.  Here are some I recommend highly:

T. R. Fehrenbach’s This Kind of War

James Brady’s The Coldest War

Two Martin Russ works, The Last Parallel, and Breakout.

S. L. A. Marshall’s The River and the Gauntlet

Pat Frank’s magnificent novel Hold Back the Night

P. K. O’Donnell’s Give me Tomorrow

Clay Blair’s The Forgotten War

There are many, many others, including some incredibly good Army monographs, but those are among my favorites.  I lent out Marshall’s book some years ago (you know who you are!!) and never got it back.  So that may be my next purchase.

Anyway, the first test of the Strategy of Containment began in the early hours, sixty-five years ago this morning.


The introduction of nuclear power plants and the teardrop shaped hulls to US nuclear submarines in the late 1950s slightly overshadows one other important development in undersea warfare at that time. Sonar arrays on submarines became increasingly large. The size of an array is directly linked to the wavelengths they operate on. Larger arrays allow use of lower frequencies. And lower frequencies generally propagate further through water than higher frequencies. This, coupled with advances in passive sonar signal processing, extended the detection range against submarines from around 4000 yards to 50,000 or even sometimes 100,000 yards, or 25 to 50 nautical miles.

The increase in detection range called for an increase in weapons range. There was a limit to just how far a conventional torpedo might travel. Further, at long ranges, while a target might be detected, the precision of the plot was rather poor.

And so, like many other programs in the late 50s and early 60s, the answer was nuclear weapons. Where surface ships could use DASH to prosecute long range targets, submarines would have to use something that could be launched from a torpedo tube.

The answer was SUBROC, or Submarine Rocket, the UUM-44 underwater to underwater guided missile. Development began in 1958, and by 1965, it was deployed to the fleet. After being ejected from a torpedo tube, a solid rocket motor would drive it to the surface. The missile’s inertial navigation system would follow a precalculated ballistic trajectory. At the calculated time, the booster would be separated, and the warhead would continue to the impact point. There it would sink and then its W55 5 kiloton warhead would detonate.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4X2lpKu-g4]

Unlike ASROC, SUBROC never carried a torpedo payload. It was only available as a nuclear weapon. While training and testing rounds were fired, no actual nuclear testing of an operational warhead were ever conducted.

SUBROC was deployed until 1989, with the end of the Cold War. A proposed follow on weapon armed with a torpedo, Sea Lance, was cancelled due to technical issues, cost overruns, and the perceived reduction of the submarine threat after the collapse of the USSR. Today’s US Navy submarine force relies solely on the M48 torpedo for anti-submarine warfare.

Sailor Hat

We’re on a bit of a nuclear weapons kick. This is actually a post that is about nuclear weapons, but doesn’t contain any.

After the Partial Test Ban Treaty, above ground nuclear explosions, including those in the ocean that would broach the surface, were prohibited.

In the meantime, the US Navy was rapidly running out of surplus World War II ships to upgrade, and was designing several classes of ships such as the Leahy class anti-air escorts using aluminum superstructures to save weight. Further, the array of antennas and other ancillary equipment on US ships was growing. But the Navy lacked empirical data on how such structures and arrays would fare in the blast overpressure regime of a nuclear weapon. What to do? Well, obviously, the thing to do was to generate blast overpressure. But since nukes were out, that meant something else was needed. What the Navy eventually did , in 1965, was stack a dome of 500 tons of high explosives along the shore of an uninhabited island in Hawaii, and blow it up, with ships nearby. Not once, but three times!

The prime target was the former light cruiser Atlanta. She was taken into the yard, had her superstructure razed, and new deckhouses erected using the design, materials and standards then in use for new construction.  Further, representative radar arrays of just about every type in use in the fleet were added to her deck. She had two bridges, one replica of a frigate/missile cruiser bridge forward, and a guided missile destroyer bridge aft.

While the former Atlanta was positioned closest to the blast, and was intended to actually sustain damage, other ships were also present, to validate the data. And not just target hulks, but actual, modern, in service ships, equipped with the same superstructures and sensors the test was designed to challenge. Further, the ships were fully manned by their regular crews.

Sailor Hat is pretty well documented. 10psi overpressure was quite damaging to ships, as you can see in the video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD6DypqD-sg]

Now, 500 tons of explosives is quite a bit. But it’s not even close to the biggest charges.

In the 1980s, two other programs tested massive conventional charges as substitutes for nuclear weapons. Operation Minor Scale set off 4,000 tons (that is, four kilotons) of conventional explosives. As the press release wryly noted, there were no plans for Operation Major Scale. Minor Scale represented the expected blast overpressure and ground wave effects of roughly an 8 kiloton airburst weapon, roughly half the power of the Hiroshima bomb. Similarly, Operation Misty Picture set off about 4,600 tons of explosives


While neither Minor Scale nor Misty Picture are classified, and indeed reporters were present at Minor Scale, very few pictures have been released, and to date, no video, likely because of sensitive technical aspects of the measurement arrays for the tests. 

Operation Crossroads

We posted yesterday about researchers finding the former USS Independence, a light carrier that had served in World War II, and was later a target vessel used in atomic testing. She actually survived not one, but two atomic blasts, with considerable damage, but no loss of hull integrity. She was scuttled primarily because decontaminating her proved to be too difficult.

Immediately after World War II, the US realized it had the ultimate trump card in the atomic bomb, but was surprised to find just how little it knew about what the weapons could, and more importantly, could not, be expected to do to targets, particularly military targets. The Navy especially was concerned about what effect nuclear weapons would have on the future of naval warfare. Scientists as well needed to conduct research into the basics of weapon development. They had very little information to work with, as only three devices had ever been detonated, and rather obviously, very little scientific data was available from the two used in combat.

And so, even as the US was working to build an inventory of nuclear weapons, it chose to expend two in a test program at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Further, the Navy arranged a target array of about 90 of virtually every type at varying ranges from the intended ground zero. The first weapon, Able,  was an airburst, dropped from a B-29. The second shot, Baker,  was a shallow underwater burst, with the device suspended by cables from a small ship.

Grab a cup of coffee, this is going to take a bit. The first video is quick, and shows the Baker shot in color.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4njDofokYs]

This video is about 42 minutes long, and shows the set up and effects of both Able and Baker.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HkLZekOZLU]

What’s astonishing is just how few ships were actually sunk. Ships only a few hundred yards from the burst survived with relatively little damage. The Able shot, being an airburst, left relatively little fallout. The Baker shot, however, was a radiological mess, heavily contaminating virtually every ship in the array.

The major wrecks at Bikini, Saratoga, Nagato, etc, are in quite shallow water, and can be dived with regular scuba equipment.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORv0LCc0DDw]

Dream Sheets, Hollywood, and Nuclear Weapons

So, saw this little funny at Facebook.

And of course, in my case, “Seattle” somehow got mistranslated to “Gary, IN.”

That and I was scouring YouTube last night trying to find obscure but entertaining and informative content for you, dear reader. And I got to thinking about some of the more obscure, interesting places the military might end up sending you to. Sure, there are recruiting stations in small towns and large cities. But there are also military bases tucked away in places you wouldn’t expect. For instance, the Navy has a substantial base in Crane, Indiana, of all places.  The Army has Fort DeRussy. Formerly a Coast Artillery installation, it is now a resort smack in the middle of Waikiki, Hawaii.

For twenty years, the Air Force operated a top secret base in the hills above Hollywood.

When the US began testing nuclear weapons after World War II, it soon decided it needed to document the testing. In addition to written reports, film reports were prepared, basically 30-60 minute long classified documentaries to brief senior leadership.  And while the filming was obviously done on location, the processing and editing were best accomplished at a centralized location. And where better to place such a facility than in Hollywood, home of the movie industry? The Air Force looked at the lists of government property in the area, and quickly realized that it already owned the perfect spot.

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the then Army Air Forces had established air defense control stations at major metropolitan areas along the West Coast. In the Los Angeles area, they had built a radar and control site on Lookout Mountain, above Laurel Canyon. Abandoned after the war, in 1947, it was reactivated, but this time as a movie studio.

File:United States Air Force Lookout Mountain Laboratory from above in color.jpg

Staffed by a combination of Air Force personnel, personnel from the other services, and contracted support from industry experts, Air Force Station Lookout Mountain produced hundreds of films documenting the US nuclear testing program.  You’ve seen stock footage of houses blown away by nuclear blasts? That’s their handiwork. In fact, virtually all footage you’ve seen of nuclear explosions is their product.


With the end of above ground nuclear testing, much of the need for Lookout Mountain’s product went away. It was inactivated in 1968, and eventually sold and converted into a private residence. Actor Jared Leto reportedly bought the 100,000 square foot compound for around $5,000,000 earlier this year.

As an aside, the compound is less than half a mile from the site of the Wonderland Murders.

Jet Bombers Go To Sea

One of the Lexicans tipped me to this, from the National Museum of Naval Aviation.


Douglas’ A3D (later A-3) Skywarrior was the largest plane ever operationally deployed aboard carriers. Earlier attempts by the Navy to field a nuclear capable bomber at sea were… marginal at best. Some P2V (later P-2) Neptunes were intended to be launched as nuclear bombers, but no attempt was made at providing a capability of recovering them aboard. The later North American AJ (later A-2) Savage was a hybrid propulsion bomber, with twin reciprocating engines, and a small jet engine embedded in the tail. It was not a terribly successful aircraft.

About the time the A3D started entering into squadron service in significant numbers, advances in nuclear weapons reduced their size to the p0int where smaller tactical aircraft, such as the AD (later A-1) Skyraider and the A4D (later A-4)* could carry nuclear weapons. The widespread adoption of in flight refueling also meant smaller strike aircraft could reach well into the heart of the Soviet Union after launching from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The A3D, with its great size and payload capacity soon found itself adapted to roles beyond the nuclear strike mission. Variants would serve as tankers, electronic warfare platforms, reconnaissance jets and even as transport. A-3s did fly a handful of conventional strike missions during the Vietnam war, but rarely ventured into the contested skies above North Vietnam.


The last Navy A-3s finally retired in the early 1990s.