FAS Roundup: December 17, 2012

New report on U.S. and Russian arms control, Instagram arms control and much more.

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Recipient will be notified of your gift on the morning of December 25, 2012.

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New Report: Trimming Nuclear Excess

The United States and Russia have significantly reduced their nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile has declined from more than 19,000 in 1991 to approximately 4,650 today. The history of the Russian stockpile is less well known but is estimated to have declined more than five-fold in the same time period from about 30,000 warheads to roughly 4,500 today. Russia and the United States currently hold more than 90 percent of the world’s total inventory of nuclear warheads.

In a new FAS report, Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, discusses options for how the United States and Russia can continue to reduce nuclear forces.

Read the report here.

From the Blogs

  • Senate Puts Breaks on Defense Clandestine Service: Last week, the Senate moved to restrain the rapid growth of the Defense Clandestine Service, the Pentagon’s human intelligence operation. Under a provision of the FY2013 defense authorization act that was approved on December 4, the Pentagon would be prohibited from hiring any more spies than it had as of last April, and it would have to provide detailed cost estimates and program plans in forthcoming reports to Congress.
  • The Plot Thickens: Two weeks ago the Associated Press ran a story about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. Central to the story was a graph that showed, over a period of a few microseconds, energy and power output from a nuclear weapon. According to this plot, not only was Iran developing nuclear weapons, but they were looking at something with the output of our post-WW II nuclear weapons. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y discusses how this graph was wrong (due to inaccurate numbers) and many things seemed right about the plot – and because it assumptions – many people assumed this data was correct, without checking the math.
  • NRO Releases Redacted Budget Book for FY2013: The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the U.S. intelligence agency that is responsible for developing and operating the nation’s intelligence satellites, has released a redacted version of its Congressional Budget Justification Book for the current fiscal year in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. During the present budget year, the NRO said it is working “to improve the responsiveness of existing systems.” Steven Aftergood writes that the agency told Congress it has had “successes developing new operational concepts and sensor data processing tools enabling legacy satellites, designed against different collection requirements and operating well beyond their design lives, to effectively address current intelligence problems.”
  • Cheneyism Preserved but Attenuated in New Plum Book: In the George W. Bush Administration, Vice President Dick Cheney advanced the idea that the Office of the Vice President is not part of the executive branch, and that it was therefore exempt from the sort of oversight mechanisms — including classification oversight — which it might otherwise be (and previously was in fact) subject to. Somewhat unexpectedly, this conception of a Vice Presidency that transcends the three branches of government reappears in the 2012 edition of the Plum Book, an official publication which lists thousands of employment positions for appointees within the federal government and which is published every four years.

Instagram Arms Control: WMD Prevention versus Internet Freedom

In a new article in Al Jazeera, Mr. Mark Jansson, Director of Special Projects, and Mr. Eddie Walsh, Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Technologies and High-end Threats, write that few things are as important to long-term strategic interests of the United States and the United Kingdom as preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and preserving the internet as a secure and uncensored resource for people around the world.

Read the article here.


On Friday, December 14, FAS honored Senator Richard Lugar with the FAS Public Service Award for his work and leadership to reduce the use and production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons worldwide in Washington, DC.

Additionally, FAS released a new report on next steps for the United States and Russia regarding nuclear arms control. Report author Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project,  Mr. Steven Pifer, Director of the Arms Control Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and Mr. Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, discussed policy recommendations to further the U.S.-Russian nuclear dialogue.


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