FAS Roundup: May 12, 2014

Russian ICBM modernization, ODNI requires pre-publication review of all public information and more.

From the Blogs

JASON Views Challenges of Electronic Health Data: The ongoing transition to electronic storage of individual health information was examined in a newly released study from the JASON scientific advisory panel. The JASON study addresses the tension between personal health information, which is “sensitive and therefore must be carefully safeguarded,” and aggregated population health data, which are “a highly valuable, and largely untapped, resource for basic and clinical research.” The JASONs, who normally deal with defense science and technology, strain to affirm a relationship between health and national security. (“From a national security perspective it is important to have an accurate assessment of the current health and potential health vulnerabilities of the population.”)

Russian ICBM Force Modernization: There is a significant upgrade that’s underway in Russia’s force of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Over the next decade, all Soviet-era ICBMs will be retired and replaced with a smaller force consisting of mainly five variants of one missile: the SS-27. After more than a decade-and-a-half of introduction, the number of SS-27s now makes up a third of the ICBM force. The new force will be smaller and carry fewer nuclear warheads than the old, but a greater portion of the remaining warheads will be on missiles carried on mobile launchers. The big unknowns are just how many SS-27s Russia plans to produce and deploy, and how many new (RS-26 and Sarmat “heavy”) ICBMs will be introduced. Without the new systems or increased production of the old, Russia’s ICBM force would probably level out just below 250 missiles by 2024. In comparison, the U.S. Air Force plans to retain 400 ICBMs.

ODNI Requires Pre-Publication Review of All Public Information: All employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are required to obtain authorization before disclosing any intelligence-related information to the public per a recently updated Instruction. The Instruction is binding on current and former ODNI employees, as well as contractors. Since it pertains to “information” and not just documents, the Instruction also requires employees to gain approval prior to participation in “open discussion venues such as forums, panels, round tables, and question and answer sessions.”

Preventing Ukraine from Spiraling Out of Control: The crisis in Ukraine continues to simmer, but thankfully has not yet boiled over. Martin Hellman, Senior Fellow for Nuclear Risk Analysis, writes that to reduce the risk of the crisis spiraling out of control, both the West and Russia should stop viewing the conflict as a football game in which there is a winner and a loser. Instead, we need to start being more concerned with creating a situation in which all the people of Ukraine can live reasonable lives, without fear of subjugation or physical harm.

Nuclear Modernization Briefings at the NPT Conference in New York

Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, presented to two panels at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York on May 1st and 2nd.

Kristensen spoke on the nuclear weapon modernization programs of all of the nuclear- armed states and the future of the B61 bomb.

Presentation slides are available here. 

hort Course on CBRN Weapons, Science and Policy: Early Bird Registration ends May 15

FAS and George Mason University will host a short course from July 7-9, 2014 as part of GMU’s 2014 summer program in International Security. This three day, non-credit short course is designed to introduce participants to the science, security, and policy dimensions of the threats of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons as well as ballistic and cruise missile.

This course is aimed at professionals in energy policy, nuclear policy, nuclear industry, public health, life sciences, law enforcement, emergency management and national security who have responsibilities for preventing, preparing for, or responding to acts by states, criminals, or terrorists using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. Early bird registration is $1,300 until May 15 and 2.1 Continuing Ed Units will be awarded upon completion of course.

Click here for course information and registration. 

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