Scott Horton Interviews Joe Cirincione

Scott Horton, October 10, 2008

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Joe Cirincione, president of the Plougshares Fund, discusses developments in the Israeli bombing of an alleged nuclear reactor in Syria, the North Korean nuclear program, the Bush regime’s failure to negotiate its dismantling, the AQ Kahn nuclear secret black-market network, the Iranian nuclear energy program, what it would take for Iran to build a weapons program, the missed opportunity five years ago to become friends with them, the political structure within Iran, the foreign policies of the presidential candidates, the dismantling of the old Soviet nuclear arsenal and the necessity of a nuclear weapon free world for the survival of the species.

MP3 here. (44:04)

Joe Cirincione is President of Plougshares Fund based in Washington, DC and San Francisco and author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons.

9 Responses to “Joe Cirincione”

  1. In his last debate with McCain Obama said Iran should be barred from importing gasoline. Isn´t that exactly the same as HR 362 and SR 580 ??? I.e. virtually a Declaration of War as Ron Paul put it.

  2. The single most important issue is to reduce tensions with Russia by gradual nuclear disarmament.
    With 4545 warheads on Minuteman-3´s, Trident-2´s, and MIRVs or smart bombs on B-2 bombers (and 360 ALCMs in reserve), all of them MIRVs linked to NAVSTAR, the USA can cross-target approximately 1,200 hard targets in Russia and China and obtain an almost 100 % probability of kill with an accuracy of 30-40 metres against silos and command centres, etc.

    According to the former Trident missile engineer Robert C. Aldridge the US Navy can track and destroy all enemy subs simultaneously.
    The first nation with a nuclear missile shield would de facto have “first-strike capability”. Quite correctly, Lt. Colonel (USAF ret.) Robert Bowman, former Director of US Air Force Missile Defense Program, called missile defense “the missing link to a First Strike”.

    It seems that no one outside a handful of Pentagon planners or senior intelligence officials in Washington discusses the implications of Washington´s pursuit of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic or its drive for Nuclear Primacy. The Russians may have no choice but Launch On Warning.
    I believe that you will agree with me that a first-strike capability is vedry dangerous even if it´s not intended for specific use.
    I hope that you´ll discuss the problem of the USA´s first-strike capability with your colleagues.
    Peace & All the best
    Claus-Erik

    AMERICA´S NUCLEAR STRATEGY: DEFENSIVE OR FIRST STRIKE ?
    By Bob Aldridge
    E-MAIL bob@plrc.org

    1. SATELLITE WARFARE has been advancing with a little known annual budget for years, while ballistic missile defense technologies are also applicable against satellites. Now, under the euphemism of “Space Control”, the Pentagon wants to increase spending. In a US first strike, destroying an enemy´s early warning and communications satellites would hinder getting the launch command to his missiles before they are destroyed.

    2. AMERICA´S LONG-RANGE NUCLEAR MISSILES – both land-based and submarine-based – are said to deter another country from striking first. Yet the pinpoint accuracy of those weapons makes them deadly against extremely hard targets such as missile silos – targets which must be destroyed in a first strike before the missiles are launched.

    3. SUBMARINE WARFARE missions – mainly intelligence gathering – have increased, claims the Pentagon. It now wants to increase the current inventory of 56 attack subs to 68 by 2015. These subs can also track the reduced number of Russian missile-launching subs which are confined to the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, and destroy them on command.

    4. BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE is presented as needed to guard against a small number of missiles such as an accidental launch by a nuclear power or a strike by a rogue nation. But what is being developed would just as easily intercept enemy missiles that survived a US first strike.

    5. COMMAND, CONTROL, COMMUNICATIONS, AND INTELLIGENCE has been vigorously pursued by the US military. These are necessary to integrate and coordinate the previous four items.

    The systems itemized above are the five essential ingredients of a first-strike capability. The US is vigorously pursuing each one and some are at a high degree of perfection. As the old axiom goes: actions speak louder than words. In this case, a country´s intentions are more accurately determined by the capabilities it seeks, rather than policy statements it promulgates. America has, or is very close at achieving, a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability.

  3. i don’t see how we have the right to demand other countries refrain from creating a nuclear weapons program, when we have the largest arsenal on earth and have USED it!!! hypocrisy!

  4. Joe Cirincione says:

    “There’s two ways to make a bomb and in World War II we used both of them. You can use highly enriched uranium or you can use plutonium. Highly enriched uranium these days is made through centrifuges, what Iran is trying to do, you spin uranium gas around and you enrich it so it’s of higher, purer and purer quality until you have a quality that’s good enough for a bomb.”

    Excuse me? ‘what Iran is trying to do’? A sly guy indeed, Mr Cirincione is alluding to an Iranian nuclear weapons program for which there is no proof whatsoever. I’m surprised that Scott didn’t stop him righ there and challenge him. I’m very sorry but Mr Cirincione sounds like a propagandist to me.

  5. I think Cirincione wasn’t being careful with his words. Iran IS using centrifuges to process uranium gas, but only to energy grade, not weapons grade. Cirincione appears to have tried to point out that Iran is not using plutonium (like the North Koreans), but rather uranium gas, but also expanded his sentence to include the fact that if the uranium gas is enriched enough it can be used to make a bomb.

    Until I hear the entire statement, I’d say he simply mixed two concepts into one and thus inadvertently suggested Iran was enriching to weapons grade, which of course they aren’t. Or perhaps he’s simply repeating what the standard accusation is without personally agreeing with it. I need to hear the audio first.

  6. I think that the difference between low and weapons grade – and what the Iranians are doing in the presence of the IAEA – had already been established by that point in the interview. He agrees that other than a very unlikely secret parallel program, the worst case senario would be the Iranians perfecting their ability to enrich, then withdrawing from the NPT, kicking out the inspectors and ONLY THEN beginning to enrich to a high enough grade to make an atom bomb.

    So, I think he’s good on this subject within the rest of the discussion.

    He also ends up using the phrase “we” in describing the US and Russia working together. That’s a big “we,” but accurate in context.

  7. Fair enough Scott, although I do still think it was inappropriate of him to cite Iran while explaining how one goes about making a bomb. Maybe my antenna was too finely tuned, who knows? In any case I’d like to thank you for making Antiwar radio such a brilliant show to listen to. Keep up the great work.

  8. Mirroman,

    As far as I know, there’s no such thing as too critical – substance wise anyway. : )

    And thanks very much for tuning in.

  9. To Claus-Erik Hamle:

    I don’t know when Bob Aldridge’s article was written but its content is certainly out of date. As Scott Ritter has pointed out, the advanced SS-27 Topol-M road-mobile intercontinental ballistic Missile (ICBM), first tested in December 2004, renders obsolete the current US National Missile Defence Program. The SH-27 is resistant to boost-phase, space-phase and re-entry point interception. A further point that Ritter does not make is that SH-27 missiles are road-mobile – i.e., they are carried on mobile launchers that can be widely dispersed in the vast forests of Russia. In addition, the Russians can easily create large numbers of decoy launchers with dummy missiles. These decoys will be designed to generate sufficient radio traffic to fool Western intelligence into believing that they are genuine. Indeed, those manning the vehicles will probably not know that they are carrying a decoy.

    As Aldridge points out, the days of the hardened missile silo and nuclear-armed submarine are numbered. What he doesn’t say is that the Russians are well aware of this and have gone for a land-based wide-dispersal strategy.

Leave a Reply