'Ammunition depot fire' in Siberia, Russia

There may not be an arms race as such, but Russia and China are heavily investing in their military tech. Our relative lack of investment at least gives them a chance to close any gaps and, of course, numbers are also a factor. Russia is definitely expansionist and we don't seem to be taking that as seriously as we might.
The US invests loads in new military technology, probably more than every other country put together. Their main problem isn't lack of investment, it's spending the money poorly.

They:
  • pursue "kewl" ideas that have little basis in reality,
  • set unrealistic goals and when the project inevitably fails they're left with no replacement for their existing kit,
  • spend everything on niche capabilities for whatever is trendy today and end up with an obsolete capability as the original problem no longer exists when the new kit finally arrives,
  • duplicate efforts within their military for the sake of preserving bureaucratic empires,
  • keep flogging a project horse long after it's dead because to admit failure would be fatal to someone's career progression,
  • etc.

The Russians and the Chinese tend to do less of this, probably because they spend far less on their militaries and so have less money to waste to begin with.

As I have mentioned above though, I am sceptical about whether the proposed nuclear powered cruise missile will be practical in the foreseeable future, so the Russians don't appear to be entirely immune from "American disease" when it comes to procurement.
 
Russia is suspected of turning off the radioactivity sensors near the site of the 8th August explosion:
The operator of a global network of radioactivity sensors said on Monday its two Russian sites closest to a mysterious explosion on Aug. 8 went offline two days after the blast, raising concern about possible tampering by Russia.
CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation) say they are addressing problems experienced by two neighbouring stations. Other stations are still analysing the path of a potential gas plume:
“We’re ... addressing w/ station operators technical problems experienced at two neighbouring stations,” Lassina Zerbo, head of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), said on Twitter overnight.

The CTBTO’s International Monitoring System includes atmospheric sensors that pick up so-called radionuclide particles wafting through the air. Zerbo said data from stations on or near the path of a potential plume of gas from the explosion were still being analysed.
The two stations stopped transmitting on 19th August and mention was made of 'communication and network issues':
The two Russian monitoring stations nearest the explosion, Dubna and Kirov, stopped transmitting on Aug. 10, and Russian officials told the CTBTO they were having “communication and network issues”, a CTBTO spokeswoman said on Monday.

“We’re awaiting further reports on when the stations and/or the communication system will be restored to full functionality.”
Both stations stopping transmissions 48 hours after the incident is described as 'a curious coincidence':
“About 48 hours after the incident in Russia on Aug. 8 these stations stopped transmitting data. I find that to be a curious coincidence,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based think tank.
Tampering would be a serious matter and likely to be futile as other monitoring stations pick up telltale particles:
He and other analysts said any Russian tampering with IMS stations would be a serious matter but it was also likely to be futile as other IMS or national stations could also pick up telltale particles.

“There is no point in what Russia seems to have tried to do. The network of international sensors is too dense for one country withholding data to hide an event,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-Proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute in California.
Map of IMS (International Monitoring System):
 
Further to the above, two of the monitoring stations in Russia are back on line. It would appear two others remain off line. For some reason the phrase 'excellent cooperation & support from our Russian station operators' was added:
“RN stations RUP 56 (Peleduy) and RUP 57 (Bilibino) have resumed operations in #Russia & are currently backfilling data,” CTBTO chief Lassina Zerbo said on Twitter, using an abbreviation for radionuclide. He added that there had been “excellent cooperation & support from our Russian station operators”.
According to the map, 56 and 57 seem to be the green squares in eastern Russia

E2A: Russia to nuclear test ban monitor: Test accident not your business
Apparently its got nothing to do with CTBTO and handing over any data from the monitoring stations is entirely voluntary:
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that the accident was not a matter for the CTBTO, which first reported that the radiation monitoring stations went silent, according to Interfax.

“It’s essential to keep in mind that handing over data from our national stations which are part of the international monitoring system is entirely voluntary for any country,” Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying.
No risks to the environment or to people apparently:
The Aug. 8 accident “should have no connection” to CTBTO activities, Ryabkov said, adding that the agency’s mandate did not extend to weapons development.

“Exhaustive explanations about what happened and what the consequences were have been given by the relevant structures,” said Ryabkov, and the mysterious accident had posed no risks to the environment or people.

CTBTO signatories including those who have ratified: Status of signature and ratification: CTBTO Preparatory Commission
 
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from "American disease"
Your complete lack of bias is noted.

They:
  • pursue "kewl" ideas that have little basis in reality,
  • set unrealistic goals and when the project inevitably fails they're left with no replacement for their existing kit,
  • spend everything on niche capabilities for whatever is trendy today and end up with an obsolete capability as the original problem no longer exists when the new kit finally arrives,
  • duplicate efforts within their military for the sake of preserving bureaucratic empires,
  • keep flogging a project horse long after it's dead because to admit failure would be fatal to someone's career progression,
  • etc.
They do however have a lead in technology and perhaps a slightly better record in human rights.

While not being free of having had a civil war, the figures of American dead were nowhere near the somewhat sobering tallies of dead chalked up by either Stalin or Mao.

So let us for a moment be glad for ‘American disease’... that they are at the moment the top power on the globe, and are a buffer between us and the delicate attentions of both Russia and China.
 
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But wait, there's more. Chernobyl on ice:

 
Two expolosions during the last test apparently. The first which killed the scientists, the second two hours later which released the radiation, presumably the exploding fuel:
The explosion that killed five Russian scientists during a rocket engine test earlier this month was followed by a second blast two hours later, the likely source of a spike in radiation, Norway’s nuclear test-ban monitor said on Friday.

The second explosion, detected only by infrasonic air pressure sensors and not by the seismic monitors that pick up movements in the ground, was likely from an airborne rocket powered by radioactive fuel, the Norsar agency said.
Both blasts picked up by infrasound, but only the first by seismology:
“We registered two explosions, of which the last one coincided in time with the reported increase in radiation,” Norsar Chief Executive Anne Stroemmen Lycke told Reuters, while adding that this likely came from the rocket’s fuel.

“Both blasts were registered on our infrasound system. The first was also picked up by seismology,” she added.
 
I'm reading 'Midnight in Chernobyl' and it's quite scary how many risks the Soviets took with nuclear stuff. Seems like they haven't changed all that much.
In the interests of balance, its probably worth reading Eric Schlosser's Command and Control which recounts the Damascus incident, involving an accident in a Titan II silo, against a highly readable backdrop of the 'failsafe/failunsafe' battle being fought between military and civilian nuclear experts.

The US only avoided leaving several radioactive holes by sheer luck, one of them in the UK.

command.jpg
 

endure

GCM
In the interests of balance, its probably worth reading Eric Schlosser's Command and Control which recounts the Damascus incident, involving an accident in a Titan II silo, against a highly readable backdrop of the 'failsafe/failunsafe' battle being fought between military and civilian nuclear experts.

The US only avoided leaving several radioactive holes by sheer luck, one of them in the UK.
View attachment 412374

Ordered. Thanks.
 
In the interests of balance, its probably worth reading Eric Schlosser's Command and Control which recounts the Damascus incident, involving an accident in a Titan II silo, against a highly readable backdrop of the 'failsafe/failunsafe' battle being fought between military and civilian nuclear experts.

The US only avoided leaving several radioactive holes by sheer luck, one of them in the UK.
View attachment 412374
Was the UK incident the Lakenheath, 'Bomber crashes onto nuclear weapons store' one, or something else, please? I will probably pick that book up too.
 
32 incidents up to 1981, only two of which apparently lead to the release of radioactive material. Thule and the Spanish one.

Wiki on the 1980 incident which ‘catapulted’ the 740 ton silo door away and ejected the 2nd stage and warhead:
The initial explosion catapulted the 740-ton silo door away from the silo and ejected the second stage and warhead. Once clear of the silo, the second stage exploded. The W53 warhead landed about 100 feet (30 m) from the launch complex's entry gate; its safety features prevented any loss of radioactive material or nuclear detonation
 
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Was the UK incident the Lakenheath, 'Bomber crashes onto nuclear weapons store' one, or something else, please? I will probably pick that book up too.
It was the Lakenheath incident. 27 July 1956; B-47 doing touch-and-gos veered off the runway, slammed into a storage 'igloo' containing Mk6 atomic bombs and exploded.

A telegram to General LeMay read "...a miracle that one Mark Six with exposed detonators sheared didn't go."

Fortunately the cores were in a separate igloo which the aircraft missed, but had it struck that one there would have been a plutonium cloud drifting over East Anglia.
 
It was the Lakenheath incident. 27 July 1956; B-47 doing touch-and-gos veered off the runway, slammed into a storage 'igloo' containing Mk6 atomic bombs and exploded.

A telegram to General LeMay read "...a miracle that one Mark Six with exposed detonators sheared didn't go."

Fortunately the cores were in a separate igloo which the aircraft missed, but had it struck that one there would have been a plutonium cloud drifting over East Anglia.
7 toes as standard narrowly avoided then.
 
Two expolosions during the last test apparently. The first which killed the scientists, the second two hours later which released the radiation, presumably the exploding fuel:

Both blasts picked up by infrasound, but only the first by seismology:
Quoting myself, I know... Anyway, Norway appears to have backtracked on the 'second explosion'. That would appear to have been mining activity in Finland;
The second explosion was detected by infrasonic air pressure sensors in the Norwegian town of Bardufoss, but further analysis, taking in additional data from Norway and Finland, pointed to a different explanation, Norsar said on its website.

“The direction shows a small deviation of 1-2 degrees difference from the first event to the station in Bardufoss. Further analysis of the event with additional seismic data indicates that the event also may stem from mining activity in Finland,” it added.
 

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