CNN Story - Y2K and nuclear missiles : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

-- Buddy (DC) (, November 13, 1998


...and 3 stories on USA Today's web front page.

-- Buddy (DC) (, November 13, 1998.

Thanks, Buddy, keep breething, and center your energies.

I focused on "The group recommends deactivating all nuclear weapons before January 1, 2000, so there is no chance of an unanticipated nuclear disaster." Now there's a positive solution.


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 13, 1998.

See also CNNs The year 2000 Bug Millennium Mayhem Problem/Solution page at:

Its a bit behind.

-- Diane J. Squire (, November 13, 1998.

-" I focused on "The group recommends deactivating all nuclear weapons before January 1, 2000, so there is no chance of an unanticipated nuclear disaster." Now there's a positive solution. "-

or a naive one, depending on your perspective.

-- 1 (, November 13, 1998.

Maybe not so naive.

Interesting aside article on the Iraqui situation: San Jose Mercury Breaking News

...warning issued to Iraq on Thursday by several Arab countries. The countries called for ``wisdom and reason'' to end the confrontation but said Saddam's government alone would be ``responsible for any consequences'' from stopping the work of U.N. weapons inspectors.

The criticism by the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iraq's vulnerable neighbors, along with Syria and Egypt, was unusually strong for Arab countries, which repeatedly have called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.


Britain also has threatened military action, and Prime Minister Tony Blair said today neither country could back down in the confrontation with Saddam.

`If we do not act in those circumstances and he is allowed to break the agreement without any comeback at all from the international community, the consequences would be disastrous for us,'' Blair said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. Radio Scotland.

Quuestion: Wonder if the realities of the bigger Y2K picture will cause nations to come together?


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 13, 1998.

Good one Buddy, 11/13/98- Updated 02:00 AM ET The Nation's Homepage -- USA Today

More than computers vulnerable to Y2K

"...In the millennium bug, we have developed a technology equivalent to natural forces. If it is anywhere, it is everywhere," says G.K. Jayaram, chairman of Transformation Systems of Princeton, N.J. "Nowhere at any time in human history has there existed such a problem."

Its all about different choices.


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 13, 1998.

I'm more worried about the nuclear missles than the power going off. I'm hoping we can get rid of the whole works, but that is about as likey as a screen door on a submarine.


-- Anti-Chainsaw (, November 13, 1998.

...and then tha USA Today article went on to imply that farming out the work overseas may be a security risk. Watch out for tose Pakis! Sheeeeesh! The one article takes the "Planes will not fall from the sky" -urban legend tack, the other one resurrects the Russian bugaboo. Meanwhile, they want to whitewash any responsibility that this country may have and make the rest of the world, and concerned poeple here look like idiots.

I've never liked USA Today, but this Zuckerman dude looks to be particularly irresponsible...

-- pshannon (, November 13, 1998.

I recall some rumors during the previous stand off with Saddam about our cruise missles not having Y2K compliant chip controllers... in other words, use 'em or loose 'em. Wonder what he will be doing on 1/1/00. All of this talk about nukes blowin' us to bits is depressing... think I'll go and read some nice Paul Milne stuff.

-- Robert Michaels (, November 13, 1998.

Let me think about this a bit:

We've got a single "scientist" group - with no established creditionals in nuclear weapon developemnt, testing, controls, or missile launch controls - or anything else I've been able to find in the "no-background source/no reference" news release that this same article came from - that claims nuclear weapons will be launched - will track, and will explode in Y2K.

Leave behind my knowledge of the subject and the people who control them - it don't work that folks - Pure logic about electronic and computer failures would tell you what I'd said before. If a problem were to happen, computer failure is not to launch the things - but to keep them from being launched, controlled, steered, or exploding.

More likely: The missile might launch, and fly exactly 4 feet up and hit the concrete missile silo door that failed to open.

This is conjecture, hype, and doom-saying at its worst - with no justification at all. It does however, play well with the media - and with the people (internationally) who want US to secure OUR missiles.

Look at it: the only nations (US, UK, and French) actually in control of their nuclear weapons - actually making progress towards resolving y2K issues other than nuclear missiles, is being told by this "group" to disarm. And who will find, disarm, control, inspect, and maintain control of the tens of thousands of Russian and formerly Russian nuclear boms and rockets during this period?

Aren't those the ones actually at risk? How will this group control them? Inspect them? Disarm them?

Why is this group calling for the only nation that can control - and has controlled its weapons - to disarm them?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, November 13, 1998.

Pay attention to Robert. He knows that of which he speaks and every word is right on the money.

As for us, you needn't be a bricklayer to recognize a crooked wall and you don't have to be very educated to realize that the more complicated something is, the more likely that a single failure will cause it to simply not work.

-- Hardliner (, November 13, 1998.

Robert is correct. I believe there is very little danger of an unintentional nuclear launch. What is much,much more likely is a kind of initial cyber DISARMEMENT. Its much more likely that you COULDN'T launch, COULDN'T control, and, if you tried, the results might be as they say - unpredictable. The defensive radar warning systems (which are in large part 1960's programming and technology, particularly in Russia) are also likely to fail. The nuclear nations really need to establish firm, redundant and totally reliable comm links with each other to avoid confusion. Which brings to mind a very specific problem for DefSec Cohen. What do you do with our submarine based ballistic missle force. Normally, a certain number of these lurk in the deep for months at a time. I certainly wouldn't want to be on a Trident a thousand feet down at 1/1/2000 rollover.

-- R. D..Herring (, November 13, 1998.

Robert is right. A specific series of coded actions must occur to launch, navigate and arm these devices. They are designed to detonate at altitude, not at ground level or by impact forces as conventional explosives. The crash of a B-52 in Spain many years ago and the recovery of the 3 payload devices should be sufficient, non-theoretical experience for non-technical people to understand the principles involved.

Anyone who makes statements warning of "mushroom clouds" and other language designed to inflame and provoke fearful images is technically incompetent. They are irresponsible idiots. Nuclear power plants cannot, under any circumstances, transform to create an uncontrolled fission reaction - a nuclear bomb.

Fission devices and thermonuclear (2 stage) devices and delivery systems cannot, under any circumstances, accidently activate, launch, navigate, arm and detonate.

Radiation leakage from mechanical damage is a real possibility. Detonations are are not. Period. End of statement. End of argument. Fini.

-- PNG (, November 13, 1998.

The articles I read said the fear was not so much that the missles would launch themselves, but that early warning systems would black out. U.S. nuclear technicians ran a Y2K test in 1992, and this is exactly what happened. If it happens on "live" systems, there are going to be some very nervous people with their fingers on the Button.

A couple years ago, there was a scientific rocket launch off the coast of Finland or thereabouts. The Russians had been duly notified, but somehow the papers didn't get through the proper channels. The Russian "football" was opened, I think for the first time in history, and Yeltsin was minutes away from having to make the decision whether or not to launch...when the rocket, fortunately, curved away from Russia instead of toward it. That was reported, among other places, in Scientific American. We live closer to the edge than we think.

-- anon (, November 13, 1998.

Will someone explain when the "China Syndrom" becomes a concern?


-- Floyd Baker (, November 13, 1998.

Now I think I'll see if I can get ahold of the movie "Fail Safe" this weekend. Or maybe I can find the book.

-- Buddy (DC) (, November 13, 1998.


The China Syndrome is an exaggerated fairy tale made up by conjecture and delusion by those who (politely put)

(1) don't know what they're talking about, and

(2) don't care whether they are telling the truth and

(3) who don't know about engineering, thermodynamics, nuclear physcis, chain reactions, heat transfer, metalurgy, structural engineering, or power station design. And they have no desire to learn anything because then they couldn't spread fairy tales.

The fairy tale goes like this:

What if a core accident happened, the core got exposed (loss of all water coolant), the core stayed critical or shutdown but melted, the liquid mass melted through the pressure vessel, the liquid mass melted through the conrete, hit the dirt underneath the pwer station, hit the water table, returned to criticallity, heated up, and then kept heating up.

At this point, the speaker then ruefully admits - "It'd melt all the way through to China - knowlingly exaggerating at this point."

Can't happen - not enough energy in there to even damage, much less melt through the bottom of the pressure, vessel under any circumstances. When an an accident that bad occurs: the molted mass slumps to the bottom, contaminates itself with "junk" and debris, and then forms an expensive lump of hot metal (a very expensive lump) of hot metal rapidly cooling off as decay heat lowers.

There is no physical way to continue the nuclear reaction after the water boils away. It can't happen.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, November 13, 1998.

And of course no work has been done since 1992. Come on people, Korzybski pointed out in the 30's that you have to date information or it is meaningless.

I consider it most unlikely that any country would launch a massive response on detecting a single rocket. Of course the top guy will be informed - but we note that he presumably did not order immediate launch - as we are still here talking about it. BTW - you better hope they don't - the whole UN thing with Iraq is predicated on the idea that Saddam would launch single missles at the US and Russia hoping to prompt massive strikes on both sides.

"China Syndrome" can't happen. If a total meltdown of a reactor core occurred - the contamination of the fuel would pretty much stop the reaction - and the residual heat of the fuel is not enough to get though the required thickness of the floor under the reactor vessel after melting through the reactor vessel walls. Happens I was pretty good friends with the guy who proved this. China Syndrome was a bad movie with terrible physics. (Quote from the character who authored the California nuclear shutdown initative "The only Physics I ever took was ExLax".)

-- Paul Davis (, November 13, 1998.

I suppose, however that the potential for a Nuclear Winter, is real enough. It just take's a few "mistakes."


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 14, 1998.

"The articles I read said the fear was not so much that the missles would launch themselves, but that early warning systems would black out. U.S. nuclear technicians ran a Y2K test in 1992, and this is exactly what happened."

Nuke Tech #1 - Gee Bob...remember 6 years ago when we ran that Y2K test?

Nuke Tech #2 - Yeah

Nuke Tech #1 - Think we should do something about it? I mean it has been *6* years

Nuke Tech #2 - Nah....we ran that test *6* years ago just for grins. We were bored that day. We ran the test for no good reason. We had no itnerest in seeing what sorts of things we needed to work on. So I am glad we have sat here for *6* years with out thumbs up our collective bums.

read the year again folks *1992*


-- Rick Tansun (, November 14, 1998.

There was an article in The Boston Globe this summer about that test that took place several years ago. It describes the test and then brings the subject up-to-date as of this past summer.

Here's the link: ert.htm

-- Kevin (, November 14, 1998.

The concern here is not that the U.S. won't be ready (though there are reports that they're not done yet), but that the Russians might have a similar problem. As of a couple months ago they hadn't really hit the awareness stage yet.

Paul Davis's point is well taken. And hopefully, if the screens do blank out, the powers that be will remember about that Y2K thing, and act rationally. But that would be a mighty scary, unstable situation, which is why the defense department is trying to talk the Russians into letting us help.

-- anon (, November 14, 1998.

Both CNN and Wired site BASIC as the group issuing this report. You may want to go read BASICs web site to get an idea of what their bias might be. It's on the very first page so it's not hard to figure out:)


-- Rick Tansun (, November 14, 1998.

I observe, Canada may have some things to teach us. -- Diane

The Globe And Mail Canadas National Web-site

Saturday, November 14


Canada leads nuclear-related abstention vote Led by Canada and Germany, a majority of NATO countries handed the United States a major diplomatic setback Friday on a controversial nuclear disarmament resolution at the United Nations.

Canada, Germany and 10 other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization abstained rather than buckle under intense U.S. pressure to vote against a resolution calling for speedy negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons.

Over strong U.S. objections, UN member countries voted 97 to 19 to adopt the non-binding resolution. The dozen NATO abstentions put that total at 32, including the abstention of Japan, Washington's closest ally in the Pacific.

Although the resolution has no legal force, many UN diplomats were stunned that Canada and most other NATO countries refused to follow Washington's lead.

Only Turkey and the two other NATO nuclear weapons states, Britain and France, voted with the United States.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy slipped into Bonn quietly Thursday for a private breakfast meeting with his German counterpart, Joshka Fischer, to discuss the abstention strategy.

The willingness of their two governments to buck Washington, London and Paris cemented the resolve of some wavering NATO countries, diplomatic sources said.

-- Diane J. Squire (, November 14, 1998.

It is not surprising that Lloyd Axworthy - the liberal twit representing Canada at the U.N. would take the coward's way out and abstain from a vote on nuclear weapons. He hopes to win the Nobel Peace prize next time around - I am not kidding. It makes us look like a nation of wimps, (which we may have become for the most part) and Axworthy is embarassing to me as a Canadian.

-- Laurane (, November 14, 1998.

>I consider it most unlikely that any country would launch a massive response on detecting a single rocket.

Russia activated its nuclear 'football' for the first time ever a couple of years ago when it detected a previously announced (single) rocket launch from the North Sea. They'd lost the announcement. Sounds like the scariest event since the Cuban Missile Crisis, but nobody knew about it until much later.

-- Ned (, November 14, 1998.

Re: the article in the Globe - why did DOD have to be informed about the Y2K problem in Oct of 1995 by the SSA, when they had performed their Y2K test on NORAD in 1993? Did they really think that NORAD would be the only system to be affected? I find that as scary as anything else in the report. How many other departments and companies experienced that same sort of SNAFU? And are they still?

-- Tricia the Canuck (, November 14, 1998.


It depends on what level of which program you're addressing - the Dept Head of something that large isn't going to know the details of each division - much less what computer techs have fixed fixed in each secure chain of command.

The nuclear control/communication solution begun in '92/'93 should have been more strongly "pushed" up th echain from below - but it wasn't. They did however - via the command and control part of the nuclear release system - begin working on their part before the SSA started.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, November 14, 1998.

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