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INSIGHT: E-Zapper Could Break The Bank

Insight Magazine
5/9/98 James P. Lucier

E-Zapper Could Break the Bank
By James P. Lucier

Transient electromagnetic devices are not hard to make and can be stuffed in a briefcase or loaded into a van. But they could zap our computer-based infrastructure.

Scenario One: Awell-dressed woman enters an airline terminal with a leather briefcase and pauses briefly in front of the ticket counter. But nobody notices her because, seconds later, all of the computers crash and even the hardware goes dead.

(2). . . . A beat-up van drives around the block in mid-Manhattan where the Clearing House Interbank Payment System, or CHIPS, is located. This is the set of computers which handles $1.3 trillion per day in check-clearing for U.S. banks -- the very heart of the U.S. economy. Suddenly the mainframes blink off, and there is a slight smell of overheated ozone. Not to worry, though, because the CHIPS backup system in New Jersey picks up without a hitch. Meanwhile, another van is approaching the New Jersey site.

. . . . Down the coast, a 747 takes off from Dulles International Airport west of Washington with the secretary of state on board. Moments later, before the plane has achieved cruising altitude, it plunges into the Blue Ridge mountains. Months of inquiry produce no explanation for the sudden failure of all the airliner's systems, including the recordings in the black boxes. But no one thought to check out the large satellite-dish TV antenna located in the backyard behind a mountain cabin looking just like hundreds of other such antennae in communities with poor TV reception.

. . . . None of these scenarios has happened, of course. But recent hearings before Congress' Joint Economic Committee, or JEC, under the leadership of Chairman James A. Saxton, a New Jersey Republican, raise chilling possibilities of terrorist threats to the national infrastructure using new developments in Radio Frequency, or RF, that could put a Popular Mechanics handyman in the terrorist business. Once considered the Buck Rogers baloney of urban-guerrilla legend, simple, portable RF weapons now are within reach -- and affordable.

. . . . For years, military establishments around the world have spent millions on devices that would generate and focus high-powered microwaves, or HPM, aimed at disrupting the circuits of missiles, aircraft, satellites and command-and-control computers. Using essentially the same principle found in the magnetron of a home microwave oven, these expensive devices generate smooth sine waves tuned to frequencies that can enter a target through its own antenna or gaps in its shielding. Like a home microwave, this produces heat in the target by causing atoms to vibrate against each other, leading to meltdown. Only a national-defense organization could field the teams of experts needed to produce HPM. It's not something to try at home.

. . . . But there is another type of RF weapon that produces a single spike of energy which envelopes the target across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, interrupting the flow of electrons performing computer calculations, and in some cases damaging the microscopic circuits themselves. This one is called a transient electronic device, or TED. There is no tuning to a vulnerable wave length here. The broadband burst attacks indiscriminately, like a radio broadcast that could be heard on every frequency. The phenomenon can be compared to the static electric discharge created by walking across a carpet; indeed, every tinkerer who opens up a computer is specifically warned to discharge any static before touching a circuit board.

. . . . The TED is in fact based upon modern versions of the spark-gap technology discovered by Michael Faraday in the 19th century. Any good engineering student with access to a textbook, a Radio Shack and an auto-parts store might build one.

. . . . Military experts long dismissed the possibility of a backyard bomber coming up with an RF weapon. But the panel assembled by Saxton from the Pentagon and elsewhere gave a much more somber assessment. Witnesses testified that the TED-in-a-briefcase already has been developed by a Russian technical institute and is for sale for $100,000 to interested parties. Another expert described how he built a TED in his basement, using a couple of ignition coils, an auto fuel pump and oil filter, and other commonly available junk parts. From there it would take only a little practical experimentation to work up to the TED-in-a-van, or the TED hooked up to a 12-foot satellite dish. A witness from the Department of Defense, or DoD, said that the military takes the possibility of RF attacks on aircraft so seriously that it has been testing such effects live in the field on surplus Huey helicopter gunships.

. . . . "Here in Congress we are still trying to bridge the information gap [on RF weapons]," Saxton tells Insight. "I even had one very nice man who asked whether this would pass the laugh test. But I think we need to make it a priority. I remember that Dick Cheney, when he was secretary of defense, told us that the Soviet Union would go away and the Cold War would be over, but the threat would not go away -- it would change.

. . . . "And he was right. The threat from chemical/biological warfare is now of a magnitude that it was not during the Cold War. It is the same with nuclear proliferation. Now, because of our reliance on high-tech systems, the potential use of radio-frequency weapons is emerging as a serious threat."

. . . . Congressional staffers told Insight that the modern economy has been rebuilt around the computer chip and associated interconnected networks. This is true not only of actual financial transactions, but for the command-and-control of the national electrical-power grid, ground transportation and communication systems, air-traffic control, marine safety, satellite-position systems and, of course, the Internet, which is quickly being transformed from a scientist's or hobbyist's domain to a fundamental vehicle that affects business decisions in worldwide enterprises. Even individual cars, trucks, trains and airplanes depend upon in-board computers just to function.

. . . . All of this is now at risk because of inherent vulnerabilities. As recounted in Martin Mayer's new book, The Bankers: The Next Generation, the CHIPS check-settlement operation, at the center of the nation's banking system, never has experienced a failure, an almost unprecedented record for major computer systems. This is the result of careful security, planning and redundancy. But in January 1996, in the midst of the worst blizzard in the northeast in decades, pipes froze on the floor above the Manhattan computers, pouring water into the system. The New Jersey backup immediately took over, running on generators because ice storms had caused a regional electrical blackout. But the storms also prevented fuel trucks from getting to the iced-in loading docks, and CHIPS came within half an hour of shutting down. What would happen to the economy if a terrorist group developed a weapon that would pierce CHIPS' security?

. . . . Similarly, an extensive enquiry into the explosion of TWA 800 off Long Island produced the conclusion that an electrical spark in the center fuel tank was responsible. But what if, in the future, an RF beam created an electrical discharge in the on-board computer systems of another flight?

. . . . It has long been known that high-level nuclear explosions generate an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which on the battlefield can have a devastating effect on other weapons and command-and-control devices not directly in the path of the nuclear explosion. The U.S. military has spent billions of dollars to develop hardening devices to shield critical systems from EMP. At the same time, former Soviet states, including Russia, and the United States have looked for ways to focus and generate high-power microwaves as a weapon without having to set off nuclear explosions. That is why the military has put so much effort into HPM systems.

. . . . In testimony before the JEC, David Shriner, a civilian who formerly worked at the super-secret China Lake test center in California, said that in comparison to the HPM systems the "TEDs are relatively simple devices that generally use simple spark-gap switches, either in oil or in pressurized gas-pulse storage lines. The power supplies are relatively small in size and much lower in average power and cost than for the narrow-band systems."

. . . . It was Shriner himself who built such a devise in his basement from spare parts in two weeks, just to confound the experts who said it couldn't be done. He was careful to share his data with government experts and to keep it in a secure facility.

. . . . "Such a system would have to cause detrimental effects to common infrastructure items such as those found in financial institutions [banks, ATMs, and stores], medical facilities, airport facilities, general transportation items [auto-engine controls, ABS, air bags, etc.], utility facilities [telephone exchanges, power-grid controllers], and other infrastructure entities," Shriner told the committee.

. . . . Shriner told Insight later that the curtain could be about to rise on what he called the dark side: "A terrorist, or somebody on the dark side using good engineering sense or just getting something out of a textbook could assemble a TED device. He would just simply park in front of a bank or a hospital or a grocery store where they use computers or microprocessor-based equipment and diddle with a homemade device until something happens. Technology is a powerful thing growing in our minds, and I can't help but think that the dark side is ready to use it."

. . . . In his testimony to the JEC, Shriner laid out a graphic picture: "This quickly developed, low-cost system could easily be placed in a small van and used in a parking lot or directed at buildings that the van was driven past. It is highly likely that this type of device would be a very effective terrorist system and the findings of its design could be factored into another larger, higher-powered device, or a more advanced design, each with significantly greater effectiveness."

. . . . Finally, Shiner added, "It is clear that there are four basic configurations that could be used, one the size of a briefcase that could be placed very close to a target system [like a computer at a desk or counter]; one that could be mounted into a small van and disguised to appear as something ordinary; one dedicated to be set up at a remote target location and used for some purpose where appearance was not of any concern; and finally, a system that could be located in one's back yard such that it could be aimed at over-flying aircraft." Shriner believes that an ordinary 12-foot TV dish antenna connected to the weapon could be pointed easily and fatally at aircraft.

. . . . A DoD witness at the JEC hearings specifically raised the need to test the effects of RF on aircraft. James F. O'Bryon is the deputy director of operational testing and evaluation live-fire testing for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His office was tasked to test emerging threats as well as current systems. He singled out directed-energy threats as one of the most important for analysis because it would not require a major effort to launch them.

. . . . "Other nations may very well choose to fight the U.S. asymmetrically, thereby avoiding a frontal assault on our forces in the more traditional war of engagement and attrition," O'Bryon said. "They very well might choose to select a specific area of our potential vulnerability; for example communications, or information warfare or other selective threats to attack us more effectively and efficiently. Recognizing that our nation, both militarily and commercially, is heavily dependent upon electronically produced, processed and transmitted information, it makes good sense to assume that rogue nations could easily try to exploit this potential niche-warfare area to not only disrupt military command, control and communications but also to attempt to defeat our highly sophisticated military systems which rely increasingly on computers and their related software."

. . . . O'Bryon revealed to the committee that for the first time tests for the survivability of systems against RF had been made outside, rather than inside a closed laboratory.

. . . . Just as one's voice sounds different in a shower than it does outside, so does the performance of an RF weapon in the open, he told the committee. He would state only that the results of his test against Huey cobra helicopters were "significant."

. . . . DoD sources tell Insight that this was the first time tests had been made that included shooting into rotating copter blades.

. . . . O'Bryon says, "Drawing much of their technology from the commercial world, our military systems, whether they be tanks, ships or aircraft are heavily dependent upon computers or computer components. They use computers to navigate, to communicate and to acquire and home on targets. In fact, some of our new fighter aircraft literally cannot fly without their computer controls. Destroying, disrupting, corrupting or interrupting computer components could be very serious."

. . . . The development of the Russian briefcase weapon was reported by another DoD witness, Dr. Ira W. Merritt, of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He stated that the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in St. Petersburg has developed compact RF devices based on solid-state pulsers, as well as a RADAN device that "can be powered by small hand-carried energy sources, which is a compact high-current electron accelerator that is smaller than an attaché case and weighs about 8 kg [18 pounds] with its rechargeable power supply."

. . . . Merritt adds, "A directional antenna has been developed [so] that RADAN could be used to stop car engines and to destroy the electronic arming and firing circuits of bombs." He cited an article in a Swedish newspaper reporting that the Swedish National Defense Research Institute purchased a Russian suitcase bomb for $100,000 that uses high-powered microwaves to knock out computers and destroy all electronics within the radius of its detonation.

. . . . The Australian military also has acquired one of these Russian devices, says Merritt. He says that U.S. and Russian scientists have been exchanging information on high-powered microwave sources, citing visits to the Moscow Radio Technical Institute and the Kharkov Physico-Technical Institute in Ukraine.

. . . . Merritt warns that the Russians have a large and diverse RF weapons program that is as yet poorly understood in the West.

. . . . "The hearings have stirred up interest in this problem in the defense community," Saxton tells Insight. "There was already a high level of interest in the group working on these problems, but now it is becoming more widespread."

Despite our current travails in the White House, we've so far been REALLY lucky that a lot of this hasn't already happened...


Posted by: Wright is right! ( *
05/09/98 12:59:54 EDT

To: Wright is right!
This is an excellent post. The lefties will say "Can't be true. It came from a Moony magazine."
From: Cyber Liberty ( *
05/09/98 13:03:38 EDT

To: Wright is right!
I don't know if this would work, but think about if what would happen if you'd strap a real old design (i.e. mechanically triggered) nuke onto a real old mechanically guided cruise missile (possibly a V1 or V2) (Sperry Rand greatly improved mechanical gyroscopes in the 50s) and then add some sort of emp device.) Could you then possibly have a cruise missile that's impervious to guided missiles, fire control radar, and as a cherry on top disables all computer systems underneath it's flight path. Remeber that with nukes you don't need the sort of pinpoint precision you need with conventional weapons.

Does anyone know have any input about the feasability of such a contraption?
From: A history Buff (-) *
05/09/98 13:12:43 EDT

To: A history Buff
 Mary C. FitzGerald
Hudson Institute

Good morning, Mr. Chairman.  It is an honor to appear before your committee and to comment on emerging Russian nuclear doctrine. 


The Russian military hierarchy clearly understands the strategic and tactical implications of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), and has developed a detailed planning framework for generating appropriate responses.  The need to spend a disproportionate share of scarce military resources on developing such responses is recognized by all senior military officers.  Notwithstanding the high priority assigned to the RMA, Russia is unlikely to possess the economic and technological resources to match the U.S. in advanced military technologies for at least 10-15 years.  This deficiency may force the General Staff to continue relying on more territorial, "brute-force" solutions to military challenges, most notably the employment of nuclear weapons.

This testimony will examine Russia's renewed reliance on strategic and especially tactical nuclear weapons to cope with a variety of scenarios.  For example, current official military doctrine has repudiated the no-first-use pledge, and reserves Russia's right to deliver a preemptive nuclear strike against any country that strikes its nuclear or "ecologically dangerous" facilities with non-nuclear weapons.  The use of tactical nuclear weapons has been threatened against countries with multi-million-man armies such as China, and against aspiring members of the nuclear club.  The export of nuclear technologies and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons abroad have been threatened in the event of NATO expansion.  Both political and military leaders currently assert that nuclear weapons constitute Russia's "main guarantee" of national security -- and main guarantee of negating the temporary Western edge in the RMA.


Then Defense Minister Grachev and others have explained that Russia must be prepared to participate in the following types of wars:
  • ! "LOCAL": Wars that originate from economic, territorial, religious, ethnic, etc. "contradictions" within the republics of the former USSR (e.g., "Hot Spots" in the republics of the former USSR).  According to Russia's official doctrine, "local" conflicts and wars will be waged with the entire available arsenal of weapons -- "from light small arms to state-of-the-art arms and military hardware, including high-precision weapons systems."

  • ! "REGIONAL":  Wars that originate from contiguous states that have large armies (e.g., China, Islamic nations)

  • ! "LARGE-SCALE/GLOBAL":  Wars that originate from countries that possess strategic nuclear and/or non-nuclear weapons capable of reaching the territory of Russia.  The United States and NATO are, in effect, warned not to provoke a return to the confrontation of the Cold War.  This would result from:  upsetting strategic stability; the qualitative and quantitative buildup of armaments; interference in the internal affairs of Russia; expansion of NATO; and forward basing of NATO forces in former Warsaw Pact states or other republics of the former Soviet Union.

Russian military experts also single out certain countries said to present a threat of warfare that crosses the aforementioned categories:
- Turkey
- Algeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan (the so-called "Muslim factor")
- Japan, South Korea, China


In 1982, General Secretary Brezhnev announced the Soviet pledge to never use nuclear weapons first.  This pledge reflected above all the Soviet Union's confidence that it had achieved conventional superiority over the West and, if necessary, could localize nuclear war-fighting.  In late 1991, however, the military began to question the utility of such a pledge -- and Russia's 1993 official military doctrine finally repudiated it.  The new stance stems logically from their loss of quantitative superiority in conventional arms, from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and especially from their ongoing lag in the RMA -- especially as epitomized by Desert Storm.

The Russian military thus noted that owing to Russia's no-first-use pledge, the aggressor will be able by conventional weapon strikes to upset the functioning of the strategic nuclear forces or at least maximally reduce their effectiveness.  It is also possible to have the destruction of ecologically dangerous installations and this, in terms of its consequences, is tantamount to the use of weapons of mass destruction.  This can be seen convincingly from the disasters at Bhopal (India), Chernobyl, and others.  For this reason such actions must be viewed as the use of weapons of mass destruction with all the ensuing consequences.

According to the Russian military, the United States has achieved significant success in creating conventionally armed high-precision weapons, especially air- and sea-launched cruise missiles.  The high effectiveness of these weapons, making it possible to selectively hit small targets, was tested in Iraq.  These weapons could also be used to hit targets in Russia's strategic nuclear forces.  The geostrategic situation does not allow Russia to respond in kind.  Obviously the START Treaty should take account of this possibility and declare that strikes against targets in the strategic nuclear forces by conventional weapons will mean the commencement of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.

The Russian military also notes that an analysis of the combat capabilities of conventional weapons (above all of the United States) permits concluding that in the course of a conventional war the eventual enemy may deprive the defending side of the capability of inflicting unacceptable damage; i.e., disturb the military-strategic equilibrium.  A reduction of the capability for massive retaliation in the course of a conventional war in turn may pose a dilemma for the defending side either to be deprived of the capability of inflicting unacceptable damage in retaliatory actions or to use nuclear weapons in a conventional war.  The former leads to vulnerability with respect to the idea of nuclear blackmail and the latter to the defending side's recognition of the concept of a limited nuclear war and rejection of the obligation of non-first use of nuclear weapons.

In that situation retaliatory actions using multiple-warhead ballistic missiles may be the sole means for inflicting adequate damage on an aggressor who is using strategic attack systems of precision conventional weapons for an attack.  The conclusion is obvious that it will be necessary to take precision conventional weapons systems into account in determining the strategic arms balance at a given stage of strategic offensive arms reduction.  But it seems unrealistic for "Washington's ruling circles" to agree with that approach to a definition of the balance of forces, and so because of its technological lag, Russia may become the main brake to a further reduction and elimination of strategic nuclear offensive arms.  For these reasons, preconditions are necessary even now for creating Russia's own precision conventional weapons systems or strategic, non-nuclear deterrence forces.

Besides threatening a nuclear response to conventional strikes on nuclear and ecologically dangerous targets, Russian military figures have warned that tactical nuclear weapons could be used against the "multi-million-man armies" of such countries as China.  In addition, prominent military scientists have recently begun to discuss the possibility of launching preemptive "limited and strategic" nuclear strikes against aspiring members of the nuclear club:  Iraq, North Korea, South Africa, etc.  Space-based mini-nukes, earth-penetrating munitions, and other so-called "clean" third-generation nuclear weapons are said to be prime candidates for striking hardened underground nuclear facilities in such a scenario.


Both Soviet and Russian military scientists have long discussed "third-generation nuclear weapons" as a means of eliminating the so-called "nuclear impasse."  Their catalogue of these weapons includes the following:
  •  Neutron weapons
  •  EMP and Asuper-EMP@ weapons
  •  SHF microwave weapons
  •  Earth-penetrating nuclear weapons
  •  Nuclear-pumped x-ray laser weapons
  •  Nuclear shrapnel
  •  Mini-nukes

For example, the Russians charge that in the early 1980s, U.S. military scientists began research aimed at creating one more kind of nuclear weapon -- a super-EMP with intensified electromagnetic radiation output.  They plan to use it to increase the intensity of the field at the earth's surface to several hundred kilovolts per meter.  In their calculations, the explosion of a 10-mt warhead at an altitude of 300-400 km above the geographic center of the United States (state of Nebraska) can disrupt the operation of electronic equipment on virtually the country's entire territory for the time necessary to disrupt retaliatory measures.

According to Russian military experts, the search for reliable destruction of highly hardened targets has led "U.S. military specialists" to the idea of using earth-penetrating nuclear devices.  In delivering a penetrating warhead to the target with an accuracy characteristic of the MX and Trident II missiles, U.S. military specialists figured that the probability of destroying the enemy missile silo or command post is near 100 percent, and instead of the two warheads now planned for each target, one will be sufficient. In other words, the probability of destroying targets will be determined only by the technical reliability of delivering warheads to them.  They are ear-marked above all for destroying enemy military and state command-and-control centers, ballistic missiles in silos, command posts, communications centers, and so on.  Consequently, missiles with such warheads will be used in a first strike.  The importance of this kind of weapon grows even more in the event of a further reduction in strategic offensive arms, when there will be decreased combat capabilities for delivering a first strike and it will be necessary to increase the kill probability of a target by each weapon.  "U.S. specialists" are examining the possibility of creating penetrating warheads equipped with a system of homing in the terminal flight phase for high accuracy in striking the target.

To eliminate warheads and decoys in the phase of their free flight on a ballistic trajectory, "U.S. specialists" also propose to use small metal particles accelerated to high velocities by the energy of a nuclear explosion and arbitrarily called nuclear shrapnel.  According to the Russians, the "nuclear shrapnel" can be used only in outer space under conditions of airless space, since the particles will burn up at velocities of over 4-5 km/sec. Its use as an anti-space weapon for destroying military satellites is not precluded.  Therefore, its combat use is possible for "blinding" the enemy in a first strike.

Russian military and scientific experts have also focused on the combat capabilities of low- and high-yield miniaturized nuclear devices.  When based in space, such weapons are said to be capable of generating a "directed shock wave" accurate enough to strike even hardened underground targets such as military and state command-and-control centers, nuclear facilities, etc.  In late 1992, the military  announced that Russia has already developed a mini-nuke whose yield has more than doubled and whose weight is one-hundredth of what it was.  According to V.N. Mikhaylov, Russian minister of Atomic Energy, work now is being accelerated on third-generation nuclear weapons.  


In late 1995, the Russian Ministry of Defense tasked its primary research institute with developing the "conceptual provisions" for a new Russian military doctrine.  Authored by Anton Surikov, this document has generated considerable debate over its nuclear aspects.  For example, Surikov states that international agreements clearly unfavorable to Russia are being imposed on it: the START II Treaty and proposed changes to the 1972 ABM Treaty.

With respect to the START II Treaty, there are two groups of arguments, military-strategic and political, against its ratification.  In speaking of the first group of arguments, one should single out the problem of inequality in so-called "rapid uploading potentials" [potentsialy bystroy dogruzki] of the U.S. and Russian strategic forces (expected ratio 5:1 in favor of the United States) and U.S. attempts to change the regime of the ABM Treaty under the pretext of a need to create a "tactical ABM defense system."  It should be emphasized that in practice, in case the U.S. delegation's proposals at the Geneva talks are accepted, they legalize the U.S. right to create a strategic system for ABM defense of its own territory.  And the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress is stepping up pressure on the U.S. administration to persuade it to take such a step even without coordinating with Russia and in spite of international restrictions which are in force.

In considering the second group of arguments, one should direct attention to the fact that as of the moment the START II Treaty was signed in January 1993, there were illusions in Russia regarding the possibility of friendship and partnership between it and the United States.  Because of this, skews in the Treaty favoring the United States did not seem so important, but today START II Treaty shortcomings appear quite differently under conditions of the approaching "cold peace" caused by the NATO bloc's planned eastward expansion.  At the same time, the practice being followed of implementing Treaty provisions without prior arrangement, without its ratification, and on a unilateral basis may lead to irreversible consequences in the very near future.

Above all, observance of the principle of quantitative equality with the United States in strategic arms may become practically unattainable.  The importance of observing this principle is explained by the fact that the majority of Western politicians are not specialists in the military area and are capable of grasping only the simplest quantitative parameters characterizing the ratio of the sides' nuclear forces.  Under these conditions the expected future substantial lag of Russia's strategic nuclear forces behind U.S. strategic forces in the number of operational nuclear warheads (the expected result of START II implementation in a version curtailed for financial considerations is no more than 500-600 Topol'-M missiles in the Strategic Missile Troops by 2003-2005, and new nuclear-powered missile-armed submarines have not been built at all since 1990) obviously will be perceived in the West as grounds to regard Russia as a second-rate nuclear power, which the only remaining nuclear superpower, the United States, will be able to subject to nuclear blackmail for the purpose of dictating its will.

In case of a total break in relations with the United States, Russia has such convincing arguments for it as the nuclear-missile potential and the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction around the world, which with skillful tactics can play the role of a kind of trading card.  And in case Russia is persistently driven into a corner, then it will be possible to sell nuclear and missile technologies to such countries as Iran and Iraq, and to Algeria after Islamic forces arrive in power there.  Moreover, Russia's direct military alliance with some of the countries mentioned also should not be excluded, above all with Iran, within the framework of which a Russian troop contingent and tactical nuclear weapons could be stationed on the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

It appears extremely important, says Surikov, to offer opposition to U.S. plans for creating a "tactical ABM defense system" and in this connection changing the terms of the 1972 ABM Treaty.  These plans essentially are another attempt at dragging the SDI idea in through the back door and they present a significant threat to strategic stability in the world and provoke the PRC and other "small nuclear countries" to a sharp buildup in their nuclear-missile forces.  In China's case, for example, its nuclear forces, which even so are heavily inferior to the strategic forces of Russia and the United States, can be completely depreciated by the deployment even of a very limited U.S. ABM defense system.  In view of this, a sharp quantitative increase in PRC nuclear-missile forces, above all in the MIRVed ICBM grouping, should be expected if a U.S. ABM defense system is deployed.  This in turn obviously will have a provoking effect on India, which in that case will follow the PRC.  Then Pakistan also undoubtably will join in the nuclear race.

Russia must not consent to any kind of changes to the text of the Treaty which would contradict that part of it which prohibits giving tactical ABM defense systems characteristics permitting their use for strategic ABM defense purposes.  Arguments according to which Russia and the United States should cooperate in the area of creating a "tactical ABM defense system" in view of the fact that they allegedly have common enemies sound altogether unconvincing.  It is obvious that such countries as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are not Russia's enemies.  Secondly, any kind of cooperation between Russia and the United States hardly will be possible at all under conditions of the approaching "cold peace" connected with the upcoming NATO bloc expansion.  Finally, by virtue of a policy of "dual standards" being followed by the United States relative to the Israeli nuclear program, which is aimed against Russia among others, any U.S. argument regarding the question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons should be viewed with suspicion--in view of the power of the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States, one should not expect any kind of serious steps by the United States to force Israel to give up its nuclear potential.  On the whole, Russia should take into account the fact that, as an analysis shows, the regime of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons most likely cannot be preserved over the long term and the number of nuclear powers will grow steadily.  


According to the Russian military, nuclear weapons will retain their exceptional importance for Russia at present and in the foreseeable future for several reasons.  First of all, since considerable stockpiles of nuclear weapons exist in the world, Russia must have them in the interests of its own security to ensure deterrence against possible nuclear attack.

Secondly, under present conditions, when Russia has no allies and its Army, Air Force, and Navy are greatly weakened due to the USSR's disintegration and the economic crisis, nuclear weapons now also act as a deterring factor against non-nuclear attack.  The situation today differs cardinally from the situation of ten years ago, when the USSR had the most powerful Army in the world which the West could oppose only with nuclear weapons.  Today the situation is the reverse.

Thirdly, because of economic difficulties, Russia now cannot propose an alternative to nuclear weapons, which non-nuclear precision weapons can be, for example.  Therefore Russia's nuclear policy, which takes the specifics of the geopolitical situation into account, may differ substantially from the policy of other nuclear countries at the present time.  Nuclear weapons evidently are the cheapest weapons for Russia now, inasmuch as fissionable materials already have been turned out and assembly industries exist even in excess amounts; i.e., it is not necessary to create either new technologies or new industries.

Since Russia's nuclear weapons will retain their exceptional role in defense for a lengthy period, there must be a certain development toward converting them from weapons of mass destruction into weapons performing primarily military missions.  This can be achieved by reducing the number and yield of nuclear warheads, which is possible only with an increase in accuracy of delivery to the military target and in the effectiveness of target engagement.

The continuing debate over the potential use of nuclear weapons also was evident last month.  Ivan Rybkin, who heads the Russian Security Council, the senior national security advisory board to President Yeltsin, stated that while Russia would not launch a preemptive nuclear strike, it may launch a nuclear counterstrike if an aggressor launched a conventional weapons attack against Russia.  He stated that this potential action might be necessary because of the greatly reduced capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces compared to its Soviet predecessor.  He said that as a result, it is important that potential aggressors are aware ahead of time that Russia would use its full spectrum of military capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

President Yeltsin's press secretary quickly stated that Rybkin's remark that Russia may be the first to use nuclear weapons does not reflect the Russian Federation official line.  Some officials in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, also criticized Rybkin's statement.  Rybkin, however, had support for his position.  The Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, Lev Rokhlin, a prominent retired Russian general, praised the statement as "correct and timely."  Rokhlin stated that "Russia will not manage to rebuff an act of aggression because of its low military capability; that is why if somebody tries to exploit our present weakness, we can use nuclear weapons immediately."

The views expressed by Rybkin and Rokhlin, however, are not just isolated instances.  In the past two months, the Russian Defense Council staff, in preparing its military reform plan for presentation to President Yeltsin, has examined the role of nuclear weapons as an aspect of Russian national security policy.  The Defense Council apparatus plan states that "in the event of a threat of aggression developing from a regional conflict into a large-scale war, Russia shall be able to be the first to employ nuclear weapons to deliver a preemptive strike at military targets.  The delivery of a limited nuclear strike shall be carried out to de-escalate the armed conflict and prevent its deterioration into large-scale war."  According to the head of the Defense Council Staff, Vladimir Klimenko, this change in the Kremlin's approach to the question of the use of nuclear weapons will be reflected in Russia's new military doctrine which is currently being prepared.

The head of Russia's Defense Council, Yuriy Baturin, stated last month that a series of meetings had been held with Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and other senior experts on the problems of nuclear policy.  He said that they had managed to "do away with the previous large discord of opinions, and a common agreement had been reached."  He declined to disclose what agreement had been reached, but he stated that it would be included in the new military doctrine which is expected to be finalized in the next few months.


In conclusion, I would like to note that Russia's current leaders seem well aware of the dangers involved in any resort to nuclear weapons.  They seem dedicated, through arms control limitations and other measures to ensure that such weapons are never used.  It also should be noted that certain statements made about the potential use of nuclear weapons are clearly intended for deterrence purposes.  At the same time, as illustrated in my testimony, it seems that Russia is increasingly reliant on its strategic and especially tactical nuclear forces.  Any lowering of the nuclear threshold should merit U.S. attention.

From: A history Buff (-) *
05/09/98 13:17:04 EDT

To: Wright is right!
I can't remember exactly when but about 15 years ago we did a remodel job @ Lockheed, Burbank in the Naval section and installed a new top secret computer room that was not underground but we installed 1/4" steel plate over the concrete floor, walls, & ceiling for the purpose that you refer to it seems to me when relating it to the conversations that I had with the Lockheed and Navy personel at the time.
From: dalereed ( *
05/09/98 13:18:54 EDT

To: dalereed
correct the above post. The room WAS UNDERGROUND.
From: dalereed ( *
05/09/98 13:33:47 EDT

To: A history Buff
"Does anyone know have any input about the feasability of such a contraption?"

Hell, you wouldn't even have to go that far. You could do it with a Cessna 152. Take the thing off on a dirt strip within striking distance of your target. Get aloft, arm the device, engage autopilot, bail out.

ATC might get suspicious when there's no response to radio queries, but most controllers would simply assume the flight had a bad radio. There's sufficient slack in the system so that this "delivery system" could reach its target.

The entire world is, in fact, very fortunate that mankind, on the whole, contains so few people that would actually do this sort of thing, because the capacity, technology, etc., is commonly available.

I remember the first time I learned that you could actually make a bomb out of fuel oil and fertilizer...and a trigger. That's about as low-tech as you can get.

No, the gee-whiz tech stuff is amazing, but a fairly smart guy with a truly evil mind could McGuyver together some pretty awful destruction with garden-variety materials.

From: Wright is right! ( *
05/09/98 13:35:34 EDT

To: Wright is right!
A modern autopilot wouldn't work with emp "protection".

I'm talking about sickies who would want to attack sites potentially protected by sams and fighers, like Wall Street, the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol, Pearl Harbor. You get the picture.
From: A history Buff (-) *
05/09/98 14:16:03 EDT

To: A history Buff
Autopilot need only use a gyro. Aim it, jump out. Use mechanical timers.

What I'm saying here is that delivery of unpleasant devices is not restricted to anything high-tech. Any idiot could steal a small plane, land it on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere (but still close to an interesting target. He could then prep the plane, take off under cover of darkness (so no one sees him bail) and any number of undesirable devices could do their work before anything could intercept them. There are plenty of places within 50-60 miles of those major targets that would support such an operation.

As I said, it's the grace of God and the prevailing goodness of the people that more of this hasn't taken place, because it sure ain't hard.

From: Wright is right! ( *
05/09/98 14:40:38 EDT

To: A history Buff
Hell, I thought all I had to worry about was anthrax. What in the heck is this "The Threat of the Month Club. I already belong to the "Disease of the Month Club"
From: a+bert () *
05/09/98 14:58:16 EDT

To: Wright is right!
I don't know all that much about the physics of emp. A colonel told me that our guys have successfully experimented successfully with some sort of emp that causes spark plugs not to work.

Hence my talk of a wholly mechanically controlled jet powered cruise missile like the V1. I also suspect that you'd want to pulse the emp. Who knows we might already have emp as a sort of last ditch defense for incredibly important targets.
From: A history Buff (-) *
05/09/98 15:24:29 EDT

To: Michael Rivero, metalbird1

Thought you might enjoy this. Think Y2K.

1 Posted on 09/15/1999 19:12:37 PDT by Uncle Bill
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