FAS Roundup: May 14, 2012

Cost of B61 bomb escalating, radioactive smuggling, cyber threats and much more.

From the Blogs

  • USAF Drones May Conduct  “Incidental” Domestic Surveillance: U.S. Air Force policy permits the incidental collection of domestic imagery by unmanned aerial systems (drones), but ordinarily would not allow targeted surveillance of a U.S. person.  The Air Force policy was restated in a newly reissued instruction on oversight of Air Force intelligence. Legally valid requirements for domestic imagery include surveillance of natural disasters, environmental studies, system testing and training, and also counterintelligence and security-related vulnerability assessments. Air Force units are authorized to acquire domestic commercial imagery for such validated purposes.
  • B61 Nuclear Bomb Costs Escalating: The expected cost of the B61 Life-Extension Program (LEP) has increased by 50 percent to $6 billion dollars, according to U.S. government sources. The escalating cost of the program – and concern that NNSA does not have an effective plan for managing it – has caused Congress to cap spending on the B61 LEP by 60 percent in 2012 and 100 percent in 2013.
  • What is a Cyber Threat?: In order to establish a common vocabulary for discussing cyber threats, and thereby to enable an appropriate response, authors of a new report released by Sandia National Laboratories propose a variety of attributes that can be used to characterize cyber threats in a standardized and consistent way.

  • Radioactive Smuggling: A dirty bomb is not a good way to kill a large amount of people, but it is a great way to scare the population. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y writes that we need to be serious about controlling radioactive materials and reports of radioactive materials trafficking.
  • Pentagon Moves to Combat the “Insider Threat”: The Department of Defense has issued a new Instruction defining its response to the “insider threat” from Department personnel who engage in unauthorized disclosures of information or other activities deemed harmful to national security. The new Instruction assigns responsibilities and authorities for systematically detecting “anomalous” employee behavior that may be an indication of an insider threat.



  • How to Rid the World of Radioactive Plutonium: In a comment published by Nature, FAS Board Member Richard Garwin with Frank von Hippel and environmental scientists Rodney Ewing and Allison Macfarlane suggest that burying plutonium is the only reasonable solution to this problematic stockpile. There is roughly 500 metric tons of radioactive plutonium or enough to make about 100,000 nuclear bombs.
  • Debunking the Missile-Defense Myth: Dr. Yousaf Butt, Scientific Consultant to FAS, writes in The National Interest that a new report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board backs up what independent scientists and engineers have been saying for decades: an adversary could easily defeat the planned U.S. system by using simple decoy warheads and other countermeasures. Butt writes that missile defense encourages adversaries to assume the worst and creates incentives for them to increase their nuclear stockpiles- which leads to more nuclear weapons and a more dangerous world.



  • On May 8, FAS hosted an event on how to bridge the generational divide on nuclear security at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton, CA. Speakers at the event included  FAS President Charles D. Ferguson, the Honorable George Shultz, the Honorable Rose Gottemoeller, Sidney D. Drell, Ambassador James Goodby, David Holloway, Richard Rhodes, Christopher Stubbs and Philip Taubman. To view video of the event click here.


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