B61 Nuclear Bomb Costs Escalating

The expected cost of the B61 Life-Extension Program has increased by 50 percent to $6 billion

By Hans M. Kristensen

The expected cost of the B61 Life-Extension Program (LEP) has increased by 50 percent to $6 billion dollars, according to U.S. government sources.

Only one year ago, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) estimated in its Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program report to Congress that the cost of the program would be approximately $4 billion.

The escalating cost of the program – and concern that NNSA does not have an effective plan for managing it – has caused Congress to cap spending on the B61 LEP by 60 percent in 2012 and 100 percent in 2013. The Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office is currently evaluating NNSA’s cost estimate and is expected to release its assessment in July. After that, NNSA is expected to release a validated cost, schedule and scope estimate for the B61 LEP, a precondition for Congress releasing the program funds for Phase 6.3 of the program.

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Pentagon Moves to Combat the “Insider Threat”

The Department of Defense has issued a new Instruction defining its response to the “insider threat” from Department personnel who engage in unauthorized disclosures of information or other activities deemed harmful to national security.

The new Instruction assigns responsibilities and authorities for systematically detecting “anomalous” employee behavior that may be an indication of an insider threat.

An insider threat is defined as “A person with authorized access, who uses that access, wittingly or unwittingly, to harm national security interests or national security through unauthorized disclosure, data modification, espionage, terrorism, or kinetic actions resulting in loss or degradation of resources or capabilities.”

A subset of the insider threat is the counterintelligence (CI) insider threat, which refers to an authorized individual who uses his access on behalf of a “foreign intelligence entity.”

A foreign intelligence entity (FIE) is “Any known or suspected foreign organization, person, or group (public, private, or governmental) that conducts intelligence activities to acquire U.S. information, blocks or impairs U.S. intelligence collection, influences U.S. policy, or disrupts U.S. systems and programs.”

All heads of DoD components are now instructed to “implement CI insider threat initiatives to identify DoD-affiliated personnel suspected of or actually compromising DoD information on behalf of an FIE.”

All military departments are expected to “conduct anomaly-based detection activities.”

See “Countering Espionage, International Terrorism, and the Counterintelligence (CI) Insider Threat,” DoD Instruction 5240.26, May 4, 2012.

The new Instruction complies with a congressional mandate in the FY2012 defense authorization act that was passed last year in response to the WikiLeaks disclosures.

What is National Security “Partnership”? And More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has not made publicly available include the following.

In Brief: Clarifying the Concept of “Partnership” in National Security, May 4, 2012

U.S. Nuclear Cooperation With India: Issues for Congress, May 7, 2012

Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress, May 4, 2012

U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage, May 3, 2012

Interest Rates on Subsidized Stafford Loans to Undergraduate Students, May 4, 2012

Racial Profiling: Legal and Constitutional Issues, April 16, 2012

Trade Primer: Qs and As on Trade Concepts, Performance, and Policy, April 16, 2012

Judicial Activity Concerning Enemy Combatant Detainees: Major Court Rulings, April 6, 2012

USAF Drones May Conduct “Incidental” Domestic Surveillance

U.S. Air Force policy permits the incidental collection of domestic imagery by unmanned aerial systems (drones), but ordinarily would not allow targeted surveillance of a U.S. person.  The Air Force policy was restated in a newly reissued instruction on oversight of Air Force intelligence.

“Air Force Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations, exercise and training missions will not conduct nonconsensual surveillance on specifically identified US persons, unless expressly approved by the Secretary of Defense, consistent with US law and regulations,” the instruction stated.

On the other hand, “Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent.”

“Collecting information on specific targets inside the US raises policy and legal concerns that require careful consideration, analysis and coordination with legal counsel.  Therefore, Air Force components should use domestic imagery only when there is a justifiable need to do so, and then only IAW [in accordance with] EO 12333, the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, DoD 5240.1-R, and this instruction,” it said.

Legally valid requirements for domestic imagery, the instruction said, include surveillance of natural disasters, environmental studies, system testing and training, and also counterintelligence and security-related vulnerability assessments. Air Force units are authorized to acquire domestic commercial imagery for such validated purposes.

However, “Air Force intelligence components must not conduct or give the appearance of conducting collection, exploitation or dissemination of commercial imagery or imagery associated products for other than approved mission purposes.”  See “Oversight of Intelligence Activities,” Air Force Instruction 14-104, April 23, 2012.

Another new Air Force Instruction deals with the basic operation of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems in domestic and foreign environments.  Among other things, it recommends caution in the use of non-uniformed personnel in conducting drone combat missions.

“To ensure the noncombatant status of civilians and contractors is not jeopardized, commanders shall consult with their servicing judge advocate office for guidance before using civilian or contractor personnel in combat operations or other missions involving direct participation in hostilities,” the instruction advised.  See “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations,” Air Force Instruction 11-502, volume 3, April 26, 2012.

In its new mark of the FY2013 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee is proposing to provide the Air Force with even more money than it requested for its Predator and Reaper drone programs.  See “Congress Funds Killer Drones the Air Force Says It Can’t Handle” by Spencer Ackerman, Wired Danger Room, May 7, 2012.

What Is A Cyber Threat?

Cyber security is a “nebulous domain… that tends to resist easy measurement and, in some cases, appears to defy any measurement,” according to a report issued in March by Sandia National Laboratories.

In order to establish a common vocabulary for discussing cyber threats, and thereby to enable an appropriate response, the Sandia authors propose a variety of attributes that can be used to characterize cyber threats in a standardized and consistent way.

“Several advantages ensue from the ability to measure threats accurately and consistently,” the authors write. “Good threat measurement, for example, can improve understanding and facilitate analysis. It can also reveal trends and anomalies, underscore the significance of specific vulnerabilities, and help associate threats with potential consequences. In short, good threat measurement supports good risk management.”

See “Cyber Threat Metrics” by Mark Mateski, et al, Sandia National Laboratories, March 2012.

FAS Roundup: May 7, 2012

New report on non-strategic nuclear weapons, missing classified document, U.S. nuclear forces and much more.

New Report on Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

  • Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: A new FAS Special Report written by Hans M. Kristensen comes three weeks before 28 NATO member countries convene in Chicago on May 20-21 to approve the conclusions of a year-long Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR). Among other issues, the review will determine the number and role of the U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and how NATO might work to reduce its nuclear posture.


From the Blogs

  • Counterintelligence Surveillance Under FISA Grew in 2011: In a new report to Congress from the Department of Justice, in 2011 the U.S. Government submitted 1,745 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authorization to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The report states that of that number, there were 1,676 requests for authority to perform electronic surveillance. In 2010, there were 1,579 such applications (including 1,511 for electronic surveillance).
  • Classified Records Said to be Missing from National Archives: A three-year investigation by the Inspector General found that more than a thousand boxes of classified government records are believed to be missing from the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). But there are no indications of theft or espionage, an official said.
  • Admin Presses for Renewal of FISA Surveillance Authority: The Obama Administration is urging Congress to renew provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act that are set to expire at the end of this year. One of the key provisions of the act would permit the electronic surveillance of entire categories of non-U.S. persons who are located abroad “without the need for a court order for each individual target.”

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Admin Presses for Renewal of FISA Surveillance Authority

The Obama Administration is urging Congress to renew provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act that are set to expire at the end of this year.

“Reauthorizing this authority is the top legislative priority of the Intelligence Community,” wrote Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder in a February 8 letter to Congress.

One of the key provisions, they explained, would permit the electronic surveillance of entire categories of non-U.S. persons who are located abroad “without the need for a court order for each individual target.”

Under this provision, “instead of issuing individual court orders, the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] approves annual certifications submitted by the Attorney General and the DNI that identify categories of foreign intelligence targets.”

“The provision contains a number of important protections for U.S. persons and others in the United States,” according to a background paper attached to the February 8 letter, including limitations on targeting, minimization procedures to exclude information about U.S. persons, and other guidelines on acquisition.

“Failure to reauthorize [this section] would result in a loss of significant intelligence and impede the ability of the Intelligence Community to respond quickly to new threats and intelligence opportunities,” the background paper stated.

Proposed legislative language to enact an extension of Title VII of the FISA Amendments Act was transmitted to Congress by the DNI in a March 26 letter.

The American Civil Liberties Union disputes the adequacy of the FISA Amendment Act’s protections for U.S. persons and is challenging the constitutionality of the Act in a lawsuit that is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The ACLU is also asking Congress to “Fix FISA by prohibiting dragnet surveillance, mandating more transparency about the government’s surveillance activities, and strengthening safeguards for privacy.”

New Report: Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

On May 20-21, 28 NATO member countries will convene in Chicago to approve the conclusions of a year-long Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR). Among other issues, the review will determine the number and role of the U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and how NATO might work to reduce its nuclear posture as well as Russia’s inventory of such weapons in the future.

Lack of transparency fuels mistrust and worst-case assumptions and the concerns some eastern NATO countries have about Russia have been used to prevent a withdrawal of the remaining U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe. The DDPR is expected to endorse the current deployment in Europe.

A new FAS report (PDF) concludes that non-strategic nuclear weapons are neither the reason nor the solution for Europe’s security issues today but that lack of political leadership has allowed bureaucrats to give these weapons a legitimacy they don’t possess and shouldn’t have.

Read the report Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons (PDF).

New Report: US and Russian Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

A new report describes U.S. and Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons

By Hans M. Kristensen

A new report estimates that Russia and the United States combined have a total of roughly 2,800 nuclear warheads assigned to their non-strategic nuclear forces. Several thousands more have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement.

The report comes shortly before the NATO Summit in Chicago on 20-21 May, where the alliance is expected to approve the conclusions of a year-long Deterrence and Defense Posture Review that will, among other things, determine the “appropriate mix” of nuclear and non-nuclear forces in Europe. It marks the 20-year anniversary of the Presidential Unilateral Initiatives in the early 1990s that resulted in sweeping reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons.

Twenty years later, the new report Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons estimates that U.S. and Russian non-strategic nuclear forces are deployed at nearly 100 bases across Russia, Europe and the United States. The nuclear warheads assigned to these forces are in central storage, except nearly 200 bombs that the U.S. Air Force forward-deploys in almost 90 underground vaults inside aircraft shelters at six bases in five European countries.

The report concludes that excessive and outdated secrecy about non-strategic nuclear weapons inventories, characteristics, locations, missions and dismantlements have created unnecessary and counterproductive uncertainty, suspicion and worst-case assumptions that undermine relations between Russia and NATO.

Russia and the United States and NATO can and should increase transparency of their non-strategic nuclear forces by disclosing overall numbers, storage locations, delivery vehicles, and how much of their total inventories have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement.

The report concludes that unilateral reductions have been, by far, the most effective means to reducing the number and role of non-strategic nuclear weapons. Yet now the two sides appear to be holding on to the remaining weapons to have something to bargain with in a future treaty to reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons.

NATO has decided that any further reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe must take into account the larger Russian arsenal, and Russia has announced that it will not discuss reductions in its non-strategic nuclear forces unless the U.S. withdraws its non-strategic nuclear bombs from Europe. Combined, these positions appear to obstruct reductions rather facilitate reductions. Russian reductions should be a goal, not a precondition, for further NATO reductions.

Download the full report here: http://fas.org/_docs/Non_Strategic_Nuclear_Weapons.pdf

Slides from briefing at U.S. Senate are here: http://fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/publications1/Brief2012_TacNukes.pdf

See also our Nuclear Notebooks on the total nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.