FAS Roundup: September 23, 2013

Obama’s nuclear guidance, eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons and much more.

Falling Short of Prague: Obama’s Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy

In a new article published in Arms Control Today, Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, writes that the Obama administration’s nuclear guidance continues Cold War thinking by reaffirming old principals. Although the guidance endorses the removal and storage of up to one-third of deployed warheads, it reaffirms counterforce strategy which works against efforts to reduce the role of nuclear weapons.

The article is available here. 

From the Blogs

Kenneth Wainstein Named to Public Interest Declassification Board: Kenneth L. Wainstein, the former head of the Justice Department National Security Division, was named to the Public Interest Declassification Board by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Public Interest Declassification Board advises the White House on declassification policy and is dominated by former government officials, including several intelligence agency leaders. Steven Aftergood writes that a deeper problem is that the Obama White House appears to be incapable of acting on the recommendations from the Board, even though it requested them. Nearly a year has passed since the Board’s last report, and no response from the White House has been forthcoming.

Before Eliminating Syria’s Chemical Weapons, One Must Find Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Most of the world (including the U.S.) seems to be relieved now that there is affirmative progress towards eliminating Syria’s ghastly chemical weapon (CW) stockpiles, avoiding (at least for now) a military strike that no one really wanted to undertake. Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation and Law Mr. Chris Bidwell writes that before eliminating Syria’s CWs, it is necessary to find them- which could be an expensive and long process.

Rare Earth Elements in National Defense and More from CRS:Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S. relations with North Korea, federal funding for climate change and an overview of characteristics of various types of chemical weapons.

Yucca Mountain Questions and Concerns: In the last post of a series on Yucca Mountain on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y takes a look at many of the major concerns at Yucca Mountain including: spent fuel storage and plutonium leaking out, the impact of geological events on spent fuel casks and the release of radioactive materials into the environment.

German Elections Raise Important Questions About Drones as Tools for Political Opposition, Protest and Violence: Germans head to the polls to vote in federal elections on September 22. Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Technologies Mr. Michael Edward Walsh writes about two recent incidents in Germany in which extremists from the Pirate Party and the Neo-Nazi attempted to use unmanned aerial vehicles for harm, and how emerging technologies can be used as tools for protest and political opposition.

William Arkin’s “American Coup”: In its endless pursuit of national security, the United States has compromised core Constitutional values including civilian control of the military and states’ rights, writes William M. Arkin in his new book “American Coup” (Little, Brown, 2013). What concerns Arkin, and what his book helps to illuminate, is what he describes as a parallel apparatus of executive authority that has developed outside of Constitutional norms (and beyond public awareness) to respond to national emergencies– catastrophic acts of terrorism, nuclear disasters, threats to presidential survival, or other extraordinary events.

Job Opportunity: Nuclear Scientist at NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is seeking a full-time nuclear scientist or nuclear engineer to work with the Nuclear Program team in the Washington, DC office on technical projects concerning: reactor safety and regulation, the role of nuclear power in an energy policy that addresses climate change, and the environmental and non-proliferation impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle. The position will directly support a recently-initiated NRDC project to prototype a citizen radiation monitoring network, including work with hand-held radiation detectors, data acquisition and analysis, and the development of the online network architecture. The position will also have a leading role in NRDC’s work on security aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including MOX and cyber threat issues.

Responsibilities will include performing calculations and technical analysis, authoring and contributing to NRDC publications and to scientific publication of research in peer-reviewed professional journals. The candidate will also provide technical support to NRDC’s nuclear regulatory and licensing interventions, and NRDC’s legislative work on the nuclear fuel cycle.

Applications may be submitted here.

Event: Short Course on Nuclear Issues in the 21st Century

The American Physical Society’s Forum on Physics & Society and the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs are sponsoring a short course on nuclear weapons issues in the 21st century on November 2-3, 2013 at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

The workshop will bring together international experts who will give technical background on issues such as CTBT on-site inspections, India and Pakistan’s nuclear programs, ballistic missile defense and nuclear forensics.

Director of the Nuclear Information Project Mr. Hans Kristensen will be presenting on modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Early registration is encouraged as the course may sell out; last day to register is October 25. For conference agenda and registration, click here. 

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