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Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks 398

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mox-not-bombs dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, "Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons." It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia.
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Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks

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  • Re:Serously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shatrat (855151) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:04PM (#47264617)

    I was referring to the CCP. They may be tied with the KMT in terms of oppressive quality, but the CCP is the undisputed world leader in terms of quantity of people put in the ground.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:05PM (#47264629)

    Actually deaths from conventional firebombings were of similar in magnitude of lives lost and destruction.

    And (like coal), burning things produces a lot of long term pollutants that raise the cancer and early mortality rate. It is more what you are "used" to. Coal actually kills 167.5 people per terrawatt each and every year than nuclear. Coal deaths number in the thousands and when coal seams get set on fire- the area can be uninhabitable for decades (like nuclear) and be polluted for centuries with mercury and dioxins (very similar to radiation). Fukishima made 780 square kilometers uninhabitable. The Jhaqira coal fire has made 700 square kilometers uninhabitable. And the smoke affects 400,000 people continuously day in day out.

    Conventional bombs from world war I are polluting water in france and belgium and killed two belgium workers in march.

    We have some weird reaction to nuclear because we are not used to it. Conventional mines have left some areas uninhabitable and are still killing and maiming people decades later.

    The after effects of acoustic shock from "ordinary" bombing can linger until a persons premature death years later.

    I agree nukes are terrible. But I think your "comfort" and familiarity with conventional weapons leads you to overestimate their long and short term safety.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:15PM (#47265307)

    You do realize that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are currently inhabited, don't you? In fact, they were inhabited shortly after the bombs there exploded.

    Nuclear weapons are not designed to render areas uninhabitable. They're designed to make a gigantic explosion, and that's it. Making the area uninhabitable, sorta like the Romans did with Carthage, is not one of the design goals.

  • Re:Isotopes (Score:4, Informative)

    by jae471 (1102461) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:30PM (#47265465) Journal
    Pu-240 is only a serious concern in the gun-barrel design. Pretty much everything since Little Boy (and everything before, actually) was/is of an implosion design.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:03PM (#47265693) Journal

    I don't know if you're just trying to be histrionic or what, but to be clear:

    http://www.un.org/en/ga/search... [un.org]

    - The context of the Ukrainian "surrender of it's nukes" was that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they ended up with the ownership of a number of nuclear warheads.
    - Given the context of the time, and granting the facts that they could neither secure them properly nor likely even use them as the arming codes were in Russian hands, the US, UK, and Russia signed a memo of understanding with Ukraine in exchange for their sending the warheads for reprocessing.

    In the first place, this memo stated that the signatories: "...respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine..." and "...refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine...." Further, they agreed to seek UN security council action "...if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;"

    As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no guarantee of territorial integrity (as has been implied heavily by media reporting). No terms of mutual defense, or assistance.

    Finally, that this was a MEMO and not a ratifiable treaty lies at the heart of the matter: it was a dead-letter the moment it was signed, not worth the ink used to print it. Without treaty status it was merely an agreement in principle, of the moment, and utterly without binding power by the long-accepted standards of geopolitics.

    By the letter of the memo, the US and UK have in fact fulfilled their obligations. (Russia clearly didn't "...respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.")

    It should be clear, then, that Ukraine wasn't exactly beating its swords into plowshares; more accurately they were giving away their swords that they couldn't use anyway, in return for a tepid, unenforceable agreement that only was relevant in the event of an actual nuclear exchange. Was it worth it? It's been 20 years during which - pretty much - Russia has paid Ukraine's bills, sold them cheap gas, and largely subsidized their entire existence.

    I'd agree that the spirit of the thing was much more broadly (and inaccurately) celebrated; on whose responsibility that rests, I'll leave to others. The fact is that in geopolitics and diplomacy, details MATTER.

    Don't get me wrong; I don't believe Putin's seizure of the Crimea was legitimate by ANY standard. He's an old school Soviet (if not Tsarist) Man who has adroitly outmaneuvered the severely-outclassed US and EU administrations with a coup akin to Munich 1939.

    Neither am I giving Obama a pass. The US was never going to (nor should it reasonably ever consider) become directly involved in a territory adjacent to Russia. Any rational view would recognize that Ukraine is substantially within the Russian sphere of influence. NEVERTHELESS, the US has ample tools in its toolbox to deal with "bad actors" in many indirect ways, and reassure our actual allies of our firm commitment to their security. Yet the US response has been confused, dilatory, impotent, and in many ways strengthened Putin's propaganda hand (The US sent the head of the CIA to a state where Russia accused the public movements of being 'inspired' by the west....seriously?). That Russia has - by most measures - pulled this off without lasting diplomatic consequence is shameful.

    My point is this: the characterization of the Memo in the media has been deeply flawed. For all the criticisms that can be fairly laid at the doorstep of the west on this matter, failing to live up to that memo is NOT one of them.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:18PM (#47265809)

    Last time we cut off their fuel they bombed Pearl Harbor. They don't teach history anymore?

  • by unixisc (2429386) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:31PM (#47265975)

    Who are they?

    Russia - yeah, they have nukes and are armed, but everyone knows that in their Soviet incarnation, their main objective was the West. Yeah, they had a rivalry w/ China during the Cold War, but after that ended, China & Russia have been a de-facto bloc, agreeing on everything, whether it's support for Syria or Iran, opposition to Islamic Jihadis on their borders & so on.

    Mongolia - has never been a threat to China since the Khanates; if anything, it's been the other way around in the last few centuries. Mongolia in fact embraced Russia so that the latter could keep them independent from China

    North Korea - yeah, they have nukes, but they've always been a vassal of Beijing. Since when do countries feel threatened by their friends having nukes?

    South Korea - yeah, they have US troops there, no nukes, and those troops are there to stop the Kims from walking into Seoul. Not there to take a stroll to Beijing or skate over the Great wall.

    Japan - hasn't been a threat to anyone, but given North Korean posturing, and China backing them, who can blame them if the post WWII restriction on Japan rearming is removed and they decide to arm themselves?

    Taiwan - yeah, a real threat to China, whose potential declaration of independence would bring down the Communist regime, given the way Beijing reacts to such moves

    Vietnam/Malaysia/Philippines - have dispute w/ China over islands in the South China sea, whose possession would threaten China's very existence

    Laos - still in China's orbit.

    Myanmar - regime very friendly to China

    India - does have nukes, but this was a decade long effort since the 1960s, when China defeated India in a war. India never needed nukes against Pakistan, who they defeated in 1947/65/71/95, but they did recognize that they were at a disadvantage against China, who had conquered Tibet, and could devour Bhutan and Nepal. Nepal now has a pro-Maoist regime, and India, despite its stockpiles, now has a nuclear Pakistan to worry about, not just China.

    China does have one genuine threat that I agree w/ them on - the Jihadi threat on their West by the Uyghurs. In the ex Soviet 'stans', the Islamic movement of Turkestan, which is a Jihadi campaign to restore the Timuride empire, is out to topple secular regimes in those countries in order to achieve that. Included in their Jihad is the liberation of Xinxiang, or 'East Turkestan'. This has been a real - as opposed to imagined - cause of worry to Beijing, and has caused them to dilute the Turkic populations there by settling Han Chinese there in huge numbers.

    So yeah, China does have real threats. Japan simply ain't one of them. Not unless and until the Chinese totally unleash the North Koreans.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArmoredDragon (3450605) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:16PM (#47266503)

    I think what he might be actually referring to is lately there's been this growing conspiracy theory that the US wanted Japan to bomb Pearl Harbor for basically no reason other than that we could one day drop nuclear bombs on them, and Japan was otherwise only interested in peace the whole time.

    Few of anybody (even those who don't subscribe to these theories) actually realize just how militaristic Japan actually was...I mean they even made the Nazi's look like good guys in comparison (not only did they have their own form of concentration camps and racial superiority complex, but they also had rape camps and would starve and torture POWs.) Furthermore, while Germany was mostly about having its military do these things, for the Japanese, EVERYBODY was part of the effort, even going so far as to ordering their own citizens to commit mass suicide rather than permit military occupation of any towns.

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