January 27, 2018

While we agonize over such life and death questions as clumsy men groping women and the crucial need for gender and racial ‘inclusion,’ let me spare a few seconds thought to something really important and scary:  Russia’s doomsday nuclear torpedo.

Code-named by NATO ‘Kanyon,’  it’s reportedly something new and terrifying, a ‘third strike’ weapon designed to obliterate the US east and west coasts in a nuclear war.   US intelligence seems to think this doomsday weapon is very real indeed.

I just re-watched for the umpteenth time the wonderful, 1964 Kubrick film, ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and marveled anew at how prescient this razor-sharp satire was.  In the film, the Soviets admit they ran out of money to keep up the nuclear arms race with the United States.  Their answer was to create a secret, automated doomsday nuclear device that would destroy the entire planet in the event of a major war.

Now, the Russians appear to have responded to a new, trillion dollar US program to develop and deploy an anti-missile system that would negate their ballistic missile system:  the ‘Kanyon.’  Fact imitates fiction.

This revelation comes just after the Trump administration has also embarked on new programs to deploy an entire new generation of lower yield nuclear weapons that can be used for tactical war-fighting purposes.  North Korea and Iran are the evident targets, as well as Afghanistan.  But there is now talk aplenty in Pentagon circles about waging a limited tactical nuclear war against Russia.  New US bomber and drone programs are being speeded up.  War talk is in the air.  Military stocks are booming.

‘Kanyon,’ according to the right-wing Heritage Foundation, a cheerleader for military spending, is a mammoth 100-megaton nuclear device carried by an unmanned submarine.  This monster weapon is designed to detonate on the US west coast, destroying the ports of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  The device is reportedly covered with cobalt, for maximum radioactive effect.

A similar device launched from the Atlantic Ocean would devastate the US East coast, leaving it under a lethal shroud of radiation for generations. 

If these reports are true, any hopes that some US generals have of fighting and winning a ‘limited’ nuclear exchange with Russia or China (never mind India) are absurd.   But in fact any serious nuclear exchange between the great powers would be a death sentence for the entire planet, wrapping us in a lethal shroud of nuclear winter. 

One US intelligence study done of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan estimated two million immediate dead and 100 million deaths within weeks.  That was from a rather limited nuclear war using first generation weapons.  Today’s weapons have ten times the explosive power.

Russia has a large and effective nuclear arsenal.  The sharp decline of Russia’s once-mighty conventional military forces after 1991 drove Moscow to place ever greater reliance on nuclear weapons to defend its interests.   Russia has also begun introducing modernized nuclear weapons in strategic and tactical versions.  China is also slowly developing its nuclear forces to be able to fight a thermonuclear war against the United States and India at the same time.

President Trump, who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War on spurious medical grounds, appears infatuated by military affairs and the panoply of weapons that he commands.  In an act of historic irresponsibility, he has brought the US to the edge of nuclear war against North Korea heedless of the dire consequences of even a ‘small’ nuclear war in Asia. 

Anyone who thinks a nuclear war can be waged without permanently polluting our planet should be put under psychiatric care.  As crazy as this notion sounds, there are some senior US generals who share this view and, most likely, President Trump, the man with the big red button.  Russia’s marshals are more cautious.  They still see the scars of World War II, in which some 27 million Soviet civilians died, and know what war means.  

Perhaps leaks about this Russian monster weapon are clever disinformation spread by Moscow to give the Americans a big scare.  Let’s hope so because, if real, they should scare the pants off all of us.


Copyright  Eric S. Margolis  2018


This post is in: Russia

12 Responses to “THE DOOMSDAY WEAPON”

  1. This Carl Sanganesque preaching about nuclear weapons may be overstating the reality of using them. Nagasaki and Hiroshima have hardly been deserted since being bombed. They aren’t radioactive to any extent. Chernobyl seeded the earth around it with more irradiated material than any size nuclear bomb can produce, yet no dire consequences have been observed in wildlife there, despite two extensive studies done. Nuclear winter? Hardly. Some volcanoes have spewed more dust in the stratosphere than a nuke can excavate. The key is that most nuclear detonations will happen far above ground because the users know that blast, heat and initial radiation (not fallout) are what kill people and destroy things. Ground-bursts, unless you are trying to destroy underground facilities are a waste of the weapon’s potential.

  2. From the BBC:

    “As North and South Korea say their Olympic athletes will march under one flag, the former US Joint Chiefs of Staff says he fears we are closer to military conflict in the Korean Peninsula than we ever have been.

    Admiral Mike Mullen also warned that Americans haven’t had an honest conversation about what nuclear conflict really means and they underestimate how terrible it would be. “

  3. Mike Smith says:

    After reading some more ” news ” I wonder if this is just misinformation released by the Americans in order to justify their plan to build more ” usable ” nuclear weapons. The flag waving sheep will likely not question this at all… The US worries me far more than Putin… or Kim for that matter. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42925375

  4. Mike Smith says:

    While a work of fiction, author Steven Coonts speculated that the Soviet Union could have smuggled in and assembled inside the US nuclear weapons during the cold war eliminating the need for delivery systems completely. While that sounds far fetched… why not. Even using normal shipping to carry weapons into a port to be detonated seems very possible, and cheap to boot. In todays world, total defense is not possible.

  5. a female faust says:

    encased in cobalt? isn’t that, encased in iron? doesn’t iron hit with neutrons decay to radioactive cobalt, or do you have to start with Cobalt?

    also, i thought life had *already* imitated art — the Rooskies had *already* made the Doomsday Device, as if Dr. Strangelove were, like 1984, meant as an instruction manual….

    and that was not ‘Kanyon’ but ‘Perimeter’ or ‘Dead Hand. From Wikipedia’s article on Dead Hand

    Dead Hand (Russian: Система «Периметр», Systema “Perimetr”, lit. “Perimeter” System…), also known as Perimeter, was a Cold War-era automatic nuclear-control system used by the Soviet Union. General speculation from insiders alleges that the system remains in use in the post-Soviet Russian Federation as well. An example of fail-deadly and mutual assured destruction deterrence, it can automatically trigger the launch of the Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by sending a pre-entered highest-authority order from the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Strategic Missile Force Management to command posts and individual silos if a nuclear strike is detected by seismic, light, radioactivity, and overpressure sensors even with the commanding elements fully destroyed. By most accounts, it is normally switched off and is supposed to be activated during dangerous crises only; however, it is said to remain fully functional and able to serve its purpose whenever it may be needed. A similar system existed in the U.S. known as the AN/DRC-8 Emergency Rocket Communications System (ERCS).

    note that although it may have once existed in the US, it no longer does. despite probably still being operational in Russia.

    • From Wiki:
      Cobalt has been discussed as a “salting” element to add to nuclear weapons, to produce a cobalt bomb, an extremely “dirty” weapon which would contaminate large areas with 60 Co nuclear fallout, rendering them uninhabitable. In one hypothetical design, the tamper of the weapon would be made of 59 Co.
      When the bomb exploded, the excess neutrons from the nuclear fission would irradiate the cobalt and transmute it into 60 Co.
      No nation is known to have done any serious development of this type of weapon.

  6. vern huffman says:

    “When everyone is dead, the Great Game is over, not before.”
    Ruyard Kipling

  7. Eric’s most recent article, almost reminds me of Nero fiddling, the people being entertained in the coliseum while Rome burns…
    People are so caught up the #MeTutu that the real issues are being missed. Thermo nuclear war, being one of them. We’re not happy to destroy the earth with trash and pollutants, we have to include nuclear waste for the gravy. Some of the early test atolls are so badly radiated that they will not likely ever be habitable. Rising sea level will also have a significant impact. The lethal radiation dosage has a half-life of 20,000 years, so, in 40,000 years it will only be 1/4 as lethal. The potential threat to Earth is far more important than who did what to whom and with what.
    I’m not sure if Eric’s reference to ‘torpedo’ is applicable to nuclear missiles, or if it is possible to use a torpedo type of device for delivery. A sub can deliver either weapon. It’s more difficult to ‘shoot down’ a torpedo; this may be the ideal delivery vehicle, and very difficult to protect against. If the sub can be stealthy, to avoid detection, it may be able to come within a few miles of the US coastline. They say that ‘close’ only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades… maybe also with thermonuclear weapons, in particular, ‘dirty’ ones. This begs the question, “Why not three?” one for Florida, one for New York and Washington area, and one for the south west? Perhaps, even more.
    NATO can give it any code name it wants. By giving it a ‘cutesie’ name, like Kanyon, it detracts from the awful destructive potential. The moniker is likely derived by someone that likes to play ‘war games’, and maybe has no understanding of the fragility of the earth’s ecosystem. It brings to mind the old adage, “we will not give in to terrorists.” This disingenuous statement is made by those with bodyguards coming out their kazoo, and, is not applicable to them. The person exposed to the terrorist is the one that needs the help. No one seems to realise that, for someone not affected, it’s trite and easy to make this stipulation.
    In addition to Dr. Strangelove, Matthew Broderick’s two ‘Wargames’ movies point to the futility of nuclear war. It was the time of the Cuban missile crisis that I realised what a ‘monster’ Kennedy was. He was prepared to take the world to WWIII; it was Khruschev’s (sp?) ‘backing down’ that prevented it. I was not unhappy when Kennedy was chosen to ‘sort it out’ with his Maker.
    Anti-missile systems may hold some promise, but, with the overkill ratios that both the Americans and the Russians have… if only a few are missed then mutually assured destruction is likely assured. Reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s ‘MLF Lullaby’:
    …..MLF [multi lateral force] will scare Brezhnev.
    …..I only hope he’s half as scared as I.
    It’s really scary that D^3 (D cubed; Draft Dodger Donald) is at the helm during these uncertain times. It’s even scarier that the US is considering the use of limited yield tactical nuclear warheads against those they consider their adversaries, with D^3 at the helm. The Americans seem to have money to burn; I sometimes wonder if they will ever have to pay it back. Who will pay it back? Perhaps the great-grandchildren of the lower and middle class.
    There is no such thing as a ‘limited’ nuclear exchange. If I’m losing and under nuclear attack, I will let loose my entire nuclear arsenal to cause as much damage to my enemy as I can. The number of casualties will number in the Billions, for short term deaths. With all the nuclear protagonists the result will be horrific. I wasn’t even thinking about the Kim being part of the fray.

    Mutually Assured Destruction is truely MADness.

  8. If there were to be a nuclear war, the lucky ones would be those who would die instantly. Anyone who wants or expects to survive a nuclear war is also in need of psychiatric care.

    • Having 6 or 8 fingers may be an improvement to the human race .
      I think it could be a pretty bleak existence for a while.

    • a female faust says:

      not so. i agree with Kearney, in his excellent book “nuclear War Survival Skills” that likely there will be survivors, and if you are not trying to be one of them you could be doing more to help, to put it mildly.

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