Friday, October 20, 2006

Who's nuking whom?

Foreign Affairs sent me the link to this:

It's a short list of the possible up-and-coming nuclear powers.
Foreign Affairs is being very optimistic. Any industrialized country has the ability to, if it wants, build an atomic bomb. Given a couple of years to scrape the material together, a country with some cash and a decent machine-tool industry can easily put together a gun-type U22 atomic bomb. A plutonium implosion bomb requires a higher level of engineering, but nothing out of reach of the developed and much of the non-developed world. Brazil, Argentina, maybe Mexico, certainly Canada, all of the countries of western Europe, and South Africa (which may already have the bomb, from the Israelis in the 1980s), could make the cut.
The only barriers are political. Is there a reason? Is there a will?
And then there's the issue of delivery. The North Koreans recognised that's the biggest problem for a rat-hole country like theirs. They started by building knock-offs of German V2s, peddling them to other scum-suckers like Saddam. The SCUD has a fairly short range. It's far too crude to be a strategic weapon with conventional warheads, but atomic bombs aimed at civilians don't need to be all that accurate. Now, the Koreans have mid-range ICBMs that can hit most of Asia and can reach Hawai. At this stage of the game, Kim would be insane to use one or two against a nuclear power like the US or China. The retaliation would be horrific. But they're a threat to South Korea and Japan. And, worse, they can be mass-produced and exportable. And, if that happens, any country with a few hundred million Euros or dollars can be a nuclear power. Anyone.

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