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Kennan and Putin’s Valdai Speech



Moving the Nuclear Diner website and other events have interrupted my working through George Kennan’s Long Telegram (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). Vladimir Putin’s recent speech at the Valdai Discussion Club fits so well into Kennan’s analysis that it’s worthwhile to read the two together. So here is Kennan’s summary of his views of the Soviet Union. I’ll offer more analysis in a later post.


In summary, we have here a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be [...]

Russia’s Military Strength Limits Possibilities for Invasion


An uneasy ceasefire in eastern Ukraine continues with regular shelling. Russian military jets test Swedish, Finnish, Baltic, and American airspace. That may have been a Russian submarine in the Swedish archipelago, but it seems to have gotten away.

What will Vladimir Putin do next? He has bragged that Russia could be in Kiev, Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw, and Bucharest in two days.

An equally important question is What can Vladimir Putin do next? A threat is made up of intent, which Russia seems to be showing plenty of, and capability, which is not much addressed in [...]

When Will The US Unveil Induced Gamma Emission Warheads?

Here is a discussion from our old Q&A forum. Everyone involved is still registered here, so we can continue in the comments.


Positron Pete: When will we unveil our IGE (Induced Gamma Emission) warheads? Are they being saved for a rainy day?

As far as I can tell, the only obstacle to large scale 178m2Hf production is cost. The U.S. government, unrestrained by any necessity to live within its means, has always prioritized the advancement of weapons technology and would not hesitate to pass such a cost on to future generations. Other nuclear isomers such as Technetium-99m are already [...]

Sunday Comics

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Happy Mole Day!


No, not the furry little mammal!

A mole is a chemical measure.

Chemists write equations with numbers of atoms and molecules combining. So when we burn the carbon in coal, we get CO2.

C + O2 –> CO2

One carbon atom reacts with one molecule of oxygen gas gives one molecule of carbon dioxide.

But you need very special circumstances to react one atom with one molecule. We deal with much larger numbers of atoms and molecules. So how to match up the amounts? Every element and molecule has a different mass.

That’s where the chemical mole [...]

Espionage from Greenglass to the NSA


David Greenglass died in July, but the New York Times just heard about his death last week. Probably many people under thirty have never heard of him.

Greenglass was a machinist in the Manhattan Project. His sister, Ethel, was married to the leader of a Soviet spy ring. In 1945, Greenglass provided drawings, and possibly even a model, of the nuclear weapon built at Los Alamos. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were tried for spying in 1951, found guilty, and put to death in 1953. Greenglass spent nine and a half years in prison.

Practically all of [...]

Disabled Russian Sub Near Sweden?

The Swedish armed forces are conducting a search for what may be a disabled Russian submarine. They detected a distress call in Russian and have what they consider reliable evidence of a submarine in Swedish waters. A Russian tanker remains in the area.

The Swedish coast around Stockholm and military bases to its south is islands, inlets, and straits. During the Cold War, Russia regularly sent subs into those areas. Russia disguises intelligence-collection ships as tankers and freighters.

Russia has, of course, denied that any of its vessels are in the area [...]

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Another Round of Iran Talks Ends

The deadline for this six-month extension of talks between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany) looms on November 24. Vague optimism is being voiced by the US, but it’s clear that significant differences on a final deal still remain.

I haven’t posted much about the Iran negotiations for a while, because there hasn’t been enough information. Both sides make noises about how the other side needs to get real, but there are not many specifics. The speculations by onlookers settle into the kinds of things I would speculate: differences on enrichment capacity and [...]

Fusion – Vaporware and Otherwise (Maybe)

A couple of new projects in fusion and a reported confirmation of Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat device are in the news.

RT news should always be looked at critically. When you read the story “Russia develops hybrid fusion-fission reactor, offers China role,” about halfway through, you find that in fact no such reactor yet exists.

And building one is “a goal for tomorrow” rather than the distant future, as is the case for a fusion reactor like the famous France-based International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) that Russia collaborates on, Kovalchuk said.

That’s Mikhail Kovalchuk, director of the Kurchatov Institute. [...]


timecholsTim Echols
RT @NEI: Day 2 of Nuclear Science Week is all about nuclear careers http://t.co/irV4ASGsxh @nuclearsciweek #NSW14
1 week ago
timecholsTim Echols
RT @Nuclear_policy: .@NRCgov Chair Allison Macfarlane leaving Jan. 1 for position at George Washington University. #nuclear
1 week ago
don4georgiaDon Parsons
RT @timechols: Turning old bombs to carbon-free power. Why wouldn't we finish this job? http://t.co/5tTQRgCkda @MonicaTrauzzi @NEI @neimag
1 week ago
jacobadelmanJacob Adelman
.@NRCgov chief Macfarlane to leave agency for teaching post at #GWU http://t.co/Upb8vrrrY4 via @BloombergNews
1 week ago