FAS Roundup: March 10, 2014

New issue of the PIR, Russian nuclear forces, the value of risk analysis and more.

Winter Issue of the Public Interest Report

The Winter issue of the PIR is now available online; it includes articles on the creation of a Middle East safeguards organization, the United States nuclear hedge arsenal and the use of crowdsourcing and the web to detect proliferation threats.

Winter 2014 Public Interest Report

Volume 67, No 1


A Citizen Approach to Nonproliferation

PDF Version

How can citizens of the world work to make the world safer using technology and crowdsourcing? Citizen Sensor aims to bring people together from all around the world to use the power of the web and crowdsourcing to have a profound impact on nonproliferation and international safeguards. By Mark Schanfein and Steven Piet.

President’s Message: Legitimizing Iran’s Nuclear Program

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FAS President Charles D. Ferguson writes that the West should act optimistically and trust but verify Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes in the wake of the interim deal reached between Iran and the P5+1. Ferguson proposes a research agenda for scientists and engineers to provide Iran with access to peaceful nuclear activities while putting limits on the latent weapons capacity of the program.

Hedging and Strategic Stability 

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The concept of strategic stability emerged during the Cold War, but today it is still unclear what the term exactly means and how its different interpretations influence strategic decisions. In the U.S.-Russian bilateral relationship, strategic stability was associated with continued dialogue between the two states to further reduce U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals, to limit the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies, and to enhance transparency and confidence-building measures. What are the different U.S. and Russian perspectives of the hedge and how can they be reduced? By Anna Péczeli.

50 Years Later “Dr. Strangelove” Remains a Must-See Film and Humorous Reminder of our Civilization’s Fragility

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January 30 marked the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Today, the film still reminds us that humanity must acknowledge that nuclear war is not a blast from the past or an obsolete fear, it is a current and future threat to civilization.  By Jeffrey W. Mason.

Prospects for a Middle East Regional Safeguards Organization

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Recent efforts to convene a conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction have stalled, reflecting the political difficulties in working towards that goal in the region. Brazil and Argentina created the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) to help verify one another’s non-nuclear weapon status and enact policies to renounce any interest in nuclear weapons. The establishment of a regional organization similar to ABACC could prevent further nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and pave the way for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of WMDs. By Sara Z. Kutchesfahani.

A Conversation with Nobel Laureate Dr. Jack Steinberger

PDF Version

Dr. Jack Steinberger is a Nobel physics laureate who serves on the FAS Board of Sponsors and has been a FAS member for many decades. FAS President Charles D. Ferguson met with Steinberger in January 2014 and recounts their discussion on topics such as nuclear disarmament, particle physics, nonproliferation and solar thermal power plants. By Charles D. Ferguson. 

More from FAS 

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News and Notes from FAS Headquarters.

Russian Nuclear Forces, 2014

In the latest Nuclear Notebook published in the Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsMr. Hans Kristensen and Dr. Robert Norris provide an overview of Russian nuclear forces in 2014. Russia has an estimated stockpile of 4,300 nuclear warheads, with 1,600 strategic warheads deployed on missiles and bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with roughly 2,000 nonstrategic warheads. A large number—perhaps 3,500—of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement.

Russia has taken steps in modernizing its nuclear forces including the development and deployment of new ICBMs, construction of ballistic missile submarines, development of a new strategic bomber, and deployment of tactical ballistic and cruise missiles and fighter-bombers.

Read the Nuclear Notebook here. 

From the Blogs

Disclosure of FISA Court Opinions: Legal Issues: Could Congress legally compel the executive branch to disclose classified opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?  Maybe not, a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service concludes. The report is an analysis of the overlapping authorities of the three branches of government to classify or disclose national security information.

Ukraine: The Value of Risk Analysis: The quantitative risk analysis approach to nuclear deterrence not only allows a more objective estimate of how much risk we face, but also highlights otherwise unforeseen ways to reduce that risk. Adjunct Senior Fellow for Nuclear Risk Analysis Dr. Martin Hellman examines how the current crisis in Ukraine is a good example of using risk analysis to detect security challenges.

Some Legislators Seek More Intelligence Budget Disclosure: Now that annual disclosure of the intelligence budget total has become routine, some legislators are seeking more transparency on intelligence spending. As anticipated, the requested U.S. intelligence budget for Fiscal Year 2015 that was submitted to Congress this week fell below the current year’s level and continued a decline from the post-9/11 high that it reached in FY 2010. An unclassified summary of the FY 2015 National Intelligence Program budget request (that was included in the overall budget request) implied that the publication of the request was a voluntary act of transparency. In fact, however, the publication of the NIP budget request is required by law, since it was included in the FY 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Russian Security Issues and U.S. Interests and More from CRS:Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as China’s naval modernization and implications for the United States, Russian security issues and U.S. interests, overview of the humanitarian response in Syria and the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act.

Radiological and Nuclear Detection Symposium: An Industry Discussion with Government

FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson and Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation Law and Policy Mr. Chris Bidwell will speak at the Radiological and Nuclear Detection Symposium hosted by VIP GlobalNet LLC on March 25-26, 2014 at the Mason Inn at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. The symposium will bring together government and industry experts to discuss how they can work together on radiation and nuclear detection challenges. Dr. Ferguson will speak about the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands. Mr. Bidwell will speak about the recent Defense Science Board (DSB) report on nuclear verification monitoring capabilities.

Click here for registration and symposium schedule.

D.C. Event: Screening of Particle Fever

Imagine being able to watch as Edison turned on the first light bulb, or as Franklin received his first jolt of electricity. For the first time, a film gives audiences a front row seat to our generation’s most significant and inspiring scientific breakthrough as it happens. Particle Fever follows six brilliant scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, marking the start-up of the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet, pushing the edge of human innovation.

The screening will take place on Friday, March 21st at 7pm at the Landmark E Street Cinema. Congressman Dan Lipinski will provide opening remarks and filmmakers Mark Levinson and David Kaplan will participate in a discussion after the film.

RSVP: [email protected]

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