Wake-up call: How turbulence could reveal secret nuclear subs

2019-03-02 07:19:01

Steve Kaufman/Corbis/Getty By David Hambling ON 17 April, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UN gave a tense press conference. The US was insisting that North Korea scale down its nuclear programme, and this, said Kim In-ryong, had created a situation in which “thermonuclear war may break out at any moment”. It was not the first time such warmongering talk had come from North Korean diplomats, but concerns over nuclear war have rarely been higher. Donald Trump has warned of a “major, major conflict” with the country. On the face of it, such tensions might seem to bolster the case for maintaining a nuclear deterrent in the West. Recent arguments in the UK in particular about replacing the ageing submarines that carry the country’s Trident nuclear missiles are part of that wider debate. But what if those submarines are lame ducks? A rumour has circulated since the cold war that subs, often considered the epitome of military stealth, can in fact be tracked. If that’s true, and there are fresh hints that it could be,