FAS Roundup: March 3, 2014

First pictures of B61-12 confirm new military capability, options for U.S. nuclear weapon pit production and more.

From the Blogs

Putting Declassified Records to Good Use: The culmination of the declassification process is when the records are finally examined by an interested reader and their contents are absorbed into the body of public knowledge. Declassification of government records can be a tedious bureaucratic process.  But at its most successful, it can also be an electrifying, revelatory source of fundamental new insights. Steven Aftergood writes about new initiatives being used by historians, computer scientists and researchers to analyze these records.

First Pictures of B61-12 Show New Military Capability: The U.S. government has published the first images of the Air Force’s new B61-12 nuclear bomb, showing the new guided tail kit that will provide new military capabilities in violation of the Nuclear Posture Review. The tail kit will increase the accuracy of the bomb and enable it to be used against targets that today require bombs with higher yields. The new weapons will be deployed to Europe, replacing nearly 200 non-guided B61 bombs in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Inspector General Blasts NRO Secrecy Practices: The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that builds and operates U.S. intelligence satellites, frequently makes mistakes when it classifies national security information, according to an assessment performed last year by the NRO Inspector General. The report said, “From the classified documents we reviewed at NRO headquarters, 114 of 134 documents contained classification errors.” The IG report was performed in response to the “Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2010,” which required the Inspectors General of all agencies that classify information to evaluate their classification programs.

Options for US Nuclear Weapon Pit Production: A new CRS report examines the infrastructure for producing the plutonium “pits” that are used in U.S. nuclear weapons, and the feasibility of sharply increasing the rate of pit production. The CRS report does not deal with whether or why that is a sensible goal, but instead probes deeply into how it could possibly be achieved. In recent years, U.S. pit production has not exceeded 11 pits per year.

Kakehashi Trip Report #5: In the fifth of a series of postings by Fellow for Emerging Technology Michael Edward Walsh on his participation in the Japan Foundation’s Kakehashi Visit for Young Public Intellectuals, Walsh writes about his meeting with members of the Japanese Shipowners Association and the growing maritime security threat posed by Somali pirates and other terrorists to international commercial maritime shipping.

U.S. Military Casualty Statistics and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S. military casualty statistics, current issues in Ukraine and countering violent extremism in the United States.

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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