Saturday, July 23, 2005

Nuclear Japan

Or, how Japan may learn to love the bomb. Obviously, Japan has the technology and resources to build pretty much any military weapon in existence. It does not have the political or cultural inclination to produce nuclear weapons, at least, not currently. As Japan lacks natural resources, it has increasingly turned to nuclear energy for the production of electricity, despite public trepidation over the accidental release of radioactive material. By 2010, 40% of their electricity will come from nuclear power plants. This points out Japan's quite serious energy problems. Although they are the only country to have experienced nuclear warfare, they are still willing to build nuclear power plants in the most earthquake-prone nation on earth. In addition to the "usual" uranium power plants, Japan also built two fast-breeder reactors. These reactors use plutonium and, moreover, produce more plutonium in the waste product. This waste product can be re-processed to obtain more plutonium. Thus, as stated in this link: "By 2003 Japan owned more plutonium than in the United States nuclear arsenal...In 2003 Japan owned 38 tons of plutonium, 5 tons located in the country and 33 tons at its European processors. That is enough for 7,000 nuclear weapons. Japan is also accelerating its production of plutonium. By 2010, the amount of plutonium being stockpiled in Europe will have mounted to 45 tons." While reactor-grade plutonium is not as pure as weapons-grade, it can still be used for nuclear warheads. Of course, there is nothing to prevent the Japanese from purifying their plutonium. The second question is method of delivery. Within a very short time, they could build a Nagasaki-type bomb and use aircraft to deliver it. They also have alternative technology. Japan has had a commercial space program since 1963; starting in 1970, they have launched satellites using solid-fuel rockets. Currently, they have two types of missiles that are suitable for conversion to intercontinental ballistic missiles. However, they would still have to design and build the re-entry vehicle to detonate the warhead. So, why should anyone care? The Japanese aren't going to bomb anyone with conventional weapons, much less start a nuclear holocaust. Although many Asian nations are still quite suspicious of Japanese motives due to lingering memories of World War II, there is no evidence of any type of militarism in Japan. Besides, there's no need for Japan to become a nuclear power; since the end of World War II, the U.S. has guaranteed Japan's security. That is, there is no need as long as the U.S. has the capability and desire to protect Japan. How long will that last? Damned if I know. However, China and Japan are wrangling over the natural gas fields in the East China Sea. This is just a prelude to the increasingly desperate struggle over access to oil and other natural resources that are vital to industrialized nations and the emerging superpower, China. As Iraq spirals into civil war, its oil exports will drop even below its current paltry level and further strain supplies. Bush, aka Bushusuru the Younger (scroll to end to 8 Jan 1992), put the U.S. in hock to the central bank of China, which limits American options; essentially, China can crush the U.S. economy by selling the $200 billion in T-bills/bonds that are held by China's central bank. Plus, in 1994 and 1998, North Korea shot medium-range missiles over Japan which landed in the Pacific; that, coupled with their suspected nuclear arsenal, would make anyone nervous. Japan and the U.S. need each other; for example, Japan's central bank holds $800 billion in T-bills and the U.S. hold Japan's security. They are tied by economic and military necessity, but only an idiot believes that conditions will never change.

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