Category Archives: Mechanics

WHO HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND HOW MANY DO THEY HAVE

Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What at a Glance

 

At the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States hoped to maintain a monopoly on its new weapon, but the secrets and the technology for making nuclear weapons soon spread. The United States conducted its first nuclear test explosion in July 1945 and dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Just four years later, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test explosion. The United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), and China (1964) followed. Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.

India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals. Iraq initiated a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has tested nuclear devices since that time. Iran and Libya have pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms, and Syria is suspected of having done the same. Still, nuclear nonproliferation successes outnumber failures and dire forecasts decades ago that the world would be home to dozens of states armed with nuclear weapons have not come to pass.

At the time the NPT was concluded, the nuclear stockpiles of both the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia numbered in the tens of thousands. Beginning in the 1970s, U.S. and Soviet/Russian leaders negotiated a series of bilateral arms control agreements and initiatives that limited, and later helped to reduce, the size of their nuclear arsenals. Today, the United States and Russia each deploy roughly 1,400 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles, and are modernizing their nuclear delivery systems.

China, India, and Pakistan are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. In addition, Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats. North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier denuclearization pledges.

Nuclear-Weapon States:

The nuclear-weapon states (NWS) are the five states—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States—officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the NPT. The treaty legitimizes these states’ nuclear arsenals, but establishes they are not supposed to build and maintain such weapons in perpetuity. In 2000, the NWS committed themselves to an “unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” Because of the secretive nature with which most governments treat information about their nuclear arsenals, most of the figures below are best estimates of each nuclear-weapon state’s nuclear holdings, including both strategic warheads and lower-yield devices referred to as tactical weapons.

China

  • About 290 total warheads.

France

  • About 300 total warheads.

Russia

  • March 2019 New START declaration: 1,461 strategic warheads deployed on 524 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
  • The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates approximately 4,490 stockpiled warheads and 2,000 retired warheads for a total of roughly 6,490 warheads, as of early 2019.

United Kingdom

  • About 120 strategic warheads, of which no more than 40 are deployed at sea on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine at any given time. The United Kingdom possesses a total of four ballistic missile submarines.
  • Total stockpile is estimated up to 200 warheads.

United States:

  • March 2019 New START declaration: 1,365 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 656 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
  • FAS estimates approximately 3,800 stockpiled warheads and 2,385 retired warheads for a total of 6,185 warheads as of early 2019.

Non-NPT Nuclear Weapons Possessors:

  • India, Israel, and Pakistan never joined the NPT and are known to possess nuclear weapons.
  • India first tested a nuclear explosive device in 1974. That test spurred Pakistan to ramp up work on its secret nuclear weapons program.
  • India and Pakistan both publicly demonstrated their nuclear weapon capabilities with a round of tit-for-tat nuclear tests in May 1998.
  • Israel has not publicly conducted a nuclear test, does not admit or deny having nuclear weapons, and states that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Israel is universally believed to possess nuclear arms, although it is unclear exactly how many.

The following arsenal estimates are based on the amount of fissile material—highly enriched uranium and plutonium—that each of the states is estimated to have produced. Fissile material is the key element for making nuclear weapons. India and Israel are believed to use plutonium in their weapons, while Pakistan is thought to use highly enriched uranium.

IndiaBetween 130-140 nuclear warheads.
IsraelAn estimated 80-90 nuclear warheads, with fissile material for up to 200.
PakistanBetween 150-160 nuclear warheads.


States of Immediate Proliferation Concern:

Prior to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran pursued a uranium-enrichment program and other projects that provided it with the capability to produce bomb-grade fissile material and develop nuclear weapons, if it chose to do so. Iran’s uranium enrichment program continues, but it is restricted and monitored by the nuclear deal. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003 and tested nuclear devices and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Uncertainty persists about how many nuclear devices North Korea has assembled. In 2007, Israel bombed a site in Syria that was widely assessed to be a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korea’s assistance. Syria has refused to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s attempts to investigate.

Iran:

  • No known weapons or sufficient fissile material stockpiles to build weapons.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the institution charged with verifying that states are not illicitly building nuclear weapons, concluded in 2003 that Iran had undertaken covert nuclear activities to establish the capacity to indigenously produce fissile material.
  • July 2015: Iran and six world powers negotiated a long-term agreement to verify and significantly reduce Iran’s capacity to produce material for nuclear weapons.
  • As part of this agreement, the IAEA and Iran concluded an investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons-related activities. The agency concluded that Iran had an organized program to pursue nuclear weapons prior to 2003. Some of these activities continued through 2009, but there were no indications of weaponization activities taking place after that date.

North Korea:

  • Estimated as of June 2019 to have approximately 20-30 warheads and the fissile material for 30-60 nuclear weapons.
  • While there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding North Korea’s fissile material stockpile and production, particularly on the uranium enrichment side, North Korea is estimated to have 20-40 kilograms of plutonium and 250-500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. The estimated annual production of fissile material is enough for 6-7 weapons.
  • North Korea operates its 5-megawatt heavy-water graphite-moderated reactor used to extract plutonium in the past for nuclear warheads on an intermittent basis since August 2013. There has also been intermittent activity at North Korea’s reprocessing facility since 2016, indicating that Pyongyang has likely separated plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel.
  • North Korea unveiled a centrifuge facility in 2010. It is likely that Pyongyang is using the facility to produce highly-enriched uranium for weapons. U.S. intelligence suggests that there are several additional centrifuge facilities in North Korea.
  • By 2020, experts estimate that North Korea could have anywhere between 20-100 nuclear warheads based on the rate of its stockpile growth and technological improvements.

Syria:

  • September 2007: Israel conducted an airstrike on what U.S. officials alleged was the construction site of a nuclear research reactor similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor.
  • The extent of Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation is unclear, but is believed to have begun in 1997.
  • Investigations into U.S. claims uncovered traces of undeclared man-made uranium particles at both the site of the destroyed facility and Syria’s declared research reactor.
  • Syria has not adequately cooperated with the IAEA to clarify the nature of the destroyed facility and procurement efforts that could be related to a nuclear program.

States That Had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Weapons Programs at One Time:

  • Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states.
  • South Africa secretly developed but subsequently dismantled its small number of nuclear warheads and also joined the NPT in 1991.
  • Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but was forced to verifiably dismantle it under the supervision of UN inspectors. The U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein definitively ended his regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • Libya voluntarily renounced its secret nuclear weapons efforts in December 2003.
  • Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.

Sources: Arms Control Association, Federation of American Scientists, International Panel on Fissile Materials, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

TEN SECRETS WALMART DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW

Big corporations are complex entities. They look glossy on the outside but behind that facade, there are all sorts of shady secrets they try hard to keep hidden. And the more the corporation has to interact with the general public, the more frantic it gets trying to keep the rotten underbelly from being exposed. With that ominous introduction, you probably know what’s coming. Walmart is in the title so obviously, we’re going to talk about some dark stuff that the retail giant doesn’t want people to know about.

10. Store-brand Supplements Are Not Worth It

Not the darkest secret in the bag nor is it the biggest skeleton in the Walmart closet but we’re just getting started here. Now the thing about supplements is that unless they’re prescribed by a doctor and come from a reputable and trusted source, you should really steer clear from them. But some people find them hard to resist. After all, taking a pill is always much easier than stuffing one’s face with green veggies. And if you are one of those people who just can’t do without supplements, then the last place you’d want to stock up on your precious pills would be Walmart. Especially their store-brand supplements. Why? Well, for one thing, the pills don’t contain all the herbal ingredients written on the package. I mean it doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out. The supplements are cheaper than in other stores and even cheaper than other brands sold right next to it, so something is up. And that’s what’s up. The good stuff that’s supposed to benefit your body is missing. In other words, you could be just shoveling down a bunch of placebos stuffed with flour and sawdust. So just because they’re cheap it doesn’t mean you’re saving money. Most likely you’d be throwing money down the drain for something that will do you no good at all.

9. Discrimination

Now we all know that discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem. And most large corporations do their best to polish their public image and show that this kind of behavior is not tolerated. For years Google would go with “Do No Evil!” It was a good motto until lawsuits piled up against Google then they dropped it. Walmart prefers to go with “Equal Opportunity Employer.” It sounds good and gives the brand a spotless clean image. But how true is that motto? And is Walmart really an equal opportunity employer? Judging by the lawsuits, we’re going to say no. And it’s not just that thing about equal opportunity either. There are also two decades worth of sexual harassment lawsuits to take into consideration. For years the company has swept under the rug all complaints of sexual harassment that employees had filed against their colleagues. Instead of taking action and putting a stop to the rampant problems, the company chose to look the other way. This has led many of the victims of such horrendous behavior to either leave the job or bear it silently. But the discrimination doesn’t even stop with being biased against pregnant women. It’s against women in general. Most of the job descriptions the company puts out in its ads make it clear the job is male-oriented and targeted toward men not women.

8. Avoid Walmart Organic Food

Organic groceries imply lack of antibiotics and clean and healthy food to put on your table. Of course, this healthy food comes at a price. Organic food is usually pricier than its non-organic counterpart. But if you can afford it you won’t have a problem with paying a little more. Unless you’re shopping in Walmart that is. Because then you’ll be paying a whole lot more to get your organic food than you would at other retail chains. In general, the food section in Walmart is its least appealing one. In fact, you’d do yourself a big favor doing your weekly grocery shopping at other places such as Aldi or Trader Joe’s. The low quality of the food items and the price tags both make Walmart a bad choice. And this problem is nowhere more obvious than in the organic section. A recent review of the major retail chains has found that Walmart usually charges its customers a lot more for organic food than its competitors. If you have the time you can check it for yourself. Just visit the websites of the retailers near you and compare prices. You’ll find that Walmart’s prices for organic food are always higher than other retailers.

7. No Background Checks

Every employer no matter how big or small tries to vet new employees before hiring them. This is especially true if the employee is someone who will be interacting with the customers. Background checks ensure that the staff has no criminal records or violent past that might put the public at risk. It’s also a great policy to ensure the company will not be liable for lawsuits if an employee loses it with a customer. Which makes it all the more puzzling that Walmart will not follow that reasonable policy of checking the background of their employees before hiring them. And since Walmart has a firearms section you can begin to get the picture here. What if a convicted felon started handling firearms at Walmart? And if you think this was a remote possibility, then think again. Someone once posted on Reddit, the social platform, how Walmart had hired their convicted brother to work in the hunting department. Now the safety of everyone who enters the store is at risk. This includes not just the customers but also the other employees who have no clue what kind of person is handling firearms at the hunting department. And of course not having background checks means Walmart might hire people previously accused of sexual harassment in their previous jobs, thus exacerbating their own sexual harassment problems.

6. Online Prices

As with most businesses, Walmart usually tries to attract customers by offering discounted prices online. You just go to their website and browse around. You’ll find daily promotions and discounts on several items and products. As we said, this is a normal practice that almost all retails do. But the thing is, if you go to the store you will find the same product being sold at a different price. There’s no scam here. Because the online prices change almost on a daily basis, the various outlets of the giant retailer don’t adjust their prices to match those offered online. And that’s where you come in. Now Walmart’s policy is if the same product has a lower price on a Walmart website you will get that discounted price not the one at the store. So while shopping at Walmart make sure to have your phone with you. Enter the name of the product on the Walmart website and see the price it offers. If it’s less than the price at the store, show the discounted price to the cashier and they will adjust it on the spot. Just remember that the product has to match the item in the store. Same name, brand, and size.

5. Harsh Work Conditions

We’ve all heard it before. Giant companies benefiting from sweatshops in poor countries where the work conditions are abhorrent and the workers get treated unfairly. It has to do with cutting down the cost of labor and increasing the profit margins. Higher profits mean the shareholders are happy and the top executives in the company get enormous annual bonuses. But what has Walmart got to do with this? Well, apparently, everything. You see, Walmart has someone else to please besides the shareholders and the stock market. And that is the customer. The only way to please the retail customer is to offer cheap prices. Price wars are a common thing among retail giants. But how do you cut down costs and offer the customer a good product at a low rate while still showing good profit margins at the end of the fiscal year? Well, the answer is in the sweatshops that use child labor in poor countries. And it’s not that Walmart directly hires these workers and subjects them to these subhuman conditions. But Walmart deals with the companies that employ these people. Even when the media exposes the harsh conditions in these factories, you would think that Walmart would stop working with them. But that’s not what happens. Since profit is the goal, the corporation will not bother with things like workers rights and fair pay as long as they happen thousands of miles away.

4. Keep an Eye on Deep Discounts

There are two types of shoppers. Those who drive to the nearest retailer with or without a shopping list. They go in there, grab a cart and start filling it up with the stuff they need. Then they head to the nearest checkout, pay, and leave. And there’s this other type of shoppers who go prepared. They check online and compare prices. They know which days the retailer offers discounts on grocery and when there’s a promotion in the meat section. That type of customer knows what they want, when to buy it, and in many cases, how much they will pay for it. Now guess which type pays less and winds up with the best deals? The second customer of course. Walmart and other retail giants rely on the first type of customer to make a profit. It’s true, Walmart offers discounts, but these are mainly targeted at the second type of customer. The one who searches and compares, and decides where to shop. Even big discount events like Black Friday shouldn’t be taken for granted. In the days leading up to Black Friday keep an eye on the prices of the items you want to buy. Then you’ll know if you’re really getting them at a good discount on Black Friday or you’re being ripped off.

3. The Early Bird

You must have heard of the early bird adage. Well, it’s more than an adage and it’s not just your mom was trying to get you out of bed in time to catch the school bus. And if you were wondering what kind of worm you were supposed to catch as you hustled bleary-eyed every morning to get to school on time, well, Walmart has got the answer. See, the retail giant tends to offer big discounts on groceries early in the day then take them down around noon. It works best with food from the previous day which hasn’t been sold and would be returned unless you snag it first. Bread from yesterday gets a hefty discount before the bread is removed from the shelf. So if you manage to make your way to the store early in the morning, you’ll find most of these food items sold at a great price. And that is the worm that the early bird gets. It’s a lot of savings on food. Do you think that’s worth getting up early for?

2. The Clearance Section

This is not exactly a secret, but most people who spend hours shopping at Walmart go blissfully unaware of its existence. We’re talking of course about the clearance section. Now, every Walmart outlet has got one. And they keep it out of the way as much as possible. That means you’ll need to do some digging and walking around looking for it. Or you could just ask the manager where they keep their clearance section. So why would you want to check them anyway? Well, for the great discounts obviously. These sections have everything the store has failed to sell. Instead of returning it or dumping it in one of their stores, they keep these items piled together in a secluded section. You can find toys sold cheap or even electronics. Keep in mind that not all outlets will keep their heavily discounted items in one place. You can find them at the lowest shelves for example. So you will need to literally dig deep and bend over to reach those valuable items. That’s the real takeaway from this article. Don’t go shopping blind. Be prepared to research and spend some time looking for the best deals and big discounts.

1. Say No to Walmart Furniture

Who doesn’t love cheap stuff? All along we’ve been focusing on how to get the best deals and pay less to get more. So what’s wrong with Walmart’s cheap stuff? Well, nothing if you’re buying bread or non-organic vegetables. But if you’re buying durables such as furniture, then you’d better shop elsewhere. When it comes to furniture you don’t want to go cheap. This is not something you’ll be buying every day, week, month, or even year. You want your furniture to last until you get tired of looking at it and replace it. Walmart furniture has a knack for collapsing when you least expect them and they really have no sense of loyalty. They tend to get bored with their new owners quite quickly. Just when you’re about to get used to your new couch or chair or that quaint coffee table with the weird colors, your brand new furniture calls it a day and commit a treacherous act of self-destruction.