Albert Einstein in 1939 warned President Franklin Roosevelt that Nazi Germany might develop an atomic bomb and conquer the world. Thus, the 20th century’s greatest scientist showed all scientists they have a duty to help defend Western civilization.
So where are warnings from scientists at the Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the national laboratories Los Alamos and Livermore, that the U.S. nuclear deterrent is dangerously obsolete?
Why are their voices not sounding alarm over Russia’s development of a new generation of nuclear weapons that have no U.S. counterparts — including a 100-megaton “tidal wave” robot bomb; Super-EMP warheads to kill electric grids; and ultra-low-yield “clean” battlefield nuclear weapons?
Our “nuclear weapon” national labs don’t deserve the name. They haven’t designed a new nuclear weapon in more than 30 years. Many have embraced the anti-nuclear bias of the Clinton and Obama administrations, quietly content with highly-paid sinecures, watching silently as Western civilization is threatened even by North Korea.
Former director of the U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency, Vice Adm. Robert Monroe, writes in The Hill: “Today, America has lost the capability to fight nuclear war. DOE’s scientists, designers, engineers, testers and production managers have no experience in their professions. Our nation’s policies have denied them the scientific practice needed in this exacting business. With testing denied, the leaders have been unable to teach and newcomers have been unable to learn. Their collective judgment is simply not to be trusted.”
A damning and true indictment from chief of what was the premier agency for U.S. nuclear weapons performance and effects. Unfortunately, in 1998 President Bill Clinton replaced the Defense Nuclear Agency with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which lost its focus on nuclear weapons in favor of more “politically correct” threats — including climate change.
Anti-nuclear “political correctness” got even worse under President Obama.
My recent first-hand experience confirms the above assessment, by former Defense Nuclear Agency Director Monroe, that on nuclear weapons and their effects, the DOE and national labs’ “collective judgment is simply not to be trusted.”
The Obama administration’s ideologically driven fantasies of achieving “a world without nuclear weapons,” their grossly irresponsible Iran nuclear deal, their denial of North Korea fast becoming a nuclear weapons state, their underfunding National Missile Defense and the U.S. nuclear deterrent — all moved the Obama administration to ignore, deny and underestimate nuclear threats from all quarters.
In particular, the Obama administration did not want to protect the electric grid and other civilian critical infrastructures from attack by nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP), as recommended by the Congressional EMP Commission, by Congress, and by Mr. Obama’s own Department of Homeland Security and Government Accountability Office.
EMP hardening the grid would give high public profile to the nuclear threat. EMP belies false claims that nuclear weapons have no utility, and that nuclear-armed North Korea, Iran or terrorists might at worst blast a city.
The EMP Commission warned in 2004 and again in 2008 that rogue states or terrorists could blackout North America by EMP attack, perhaps permanently, thereby threatening the survival of most Americans and the existence of the United States.
Accordingly, in 2014, the Obama administration’s DOE and national labs concocted through the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee (JAEIC) a classified report on EMP that has been used ever since to justify doing nothing about the EMP threat.
Obama holdovers have been using the JAEIC Report to persuade some nave Trump administration newcomers to continue doing nothing about EMP. Fortunately, Mr. Trump overruled the JAEIC Report, promising to protect the electric grid and other critical infrastructures from EMP in his new National Security Strategy.
The Congressional EMP Commission has written a rebuttal to the JAEIC Report — which we characterize as the worst analysis of the EMP threat ever written.
However, the Department of Defense is sitting on our rebuttal of JAEIC and our 11 other EMP Commission reports that were supposed to be published in December 2017.
DOE and the national labs continue to conduct a whispering campaign against EMP protection based on their JAEIC Report. Yet they lack the courage of their convictions.
They are hiding under their desks, evading all efforts to meet and defend their work to the EMP Commission and real EMP experts.
Such are the characters who have been entrusted with maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent since the Clinton administration.
In addition to modernizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent — indeed, if America is to succeed in modernization — the administration must also clean house at DOE and the national labs. It must fire the “politically correct” pseudo-scientists who have been for years derelict in their duty to warn of growing nuclear threats from Russia, China, and North Korea; who have been derelict in their duty to warn of the dangerous obsolescence of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; and who think it is OK for the U.S. to be increasingly vulnerable to these threats — including nuclear EMP attack.
We need a new generation of scientists committed to building the most advanced nuclear weapons, who understand that U.S. offensive and defensive nuclear preparedness is foundational to Peace Through Strength.
• Peter Vincent Pry is chief of staff of the congressional EMP Commission and served on the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.