A Credible Radioactive Threat to the Sochi Olympics?

With the Sochi Olympics set to start on February 6th there has been an escalating concern about security threats to the Games. There are hunts for female suicide bombers (“black widows”), video threats from militant groups, etc., all of which have triggered a massive Russian security response, including statements by President Putin insuring the safety of the Games.

Many of the security concerns are raised by the proximity of Sochi  to Chechnya and relate to the threats expressed by Chechen leader Doku Umarov who exhorted Islamic militants to disrupt the Olympics.

In the past weeks the region has seen Islamic militants claims that they carried out two recent suicide bombings in Volgorad which tragically killed 34 people and injured scores of others. Volgograd is about 425 miles from Sochi and although the media stresses the proximity it is a considerable distance.

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FAS Roundup: January 27, 2014

General confirms enhanced targeting with B61-12 bomb, Defense Science Board urges more global monitoring and more.

From the Blogs

Defense Science Board Urges Expanded Global Monitoring: A new report by the Defense Science Board urges the U.S. government to expand and accelerate global monitoring for the purposes of detecting nuclear proliferation. The report also emphasized the need for increased openness and transparency to strengthen international confidence and stability and to simplify the challenge of global monitoring of proliferation.

Sen. McCain Blasts Secret Legislation on Drone Policy: Steven Aftergood writes that in a striking new example of secret lawmaking, a classified provision in the consolidated appropriations bill passed by Congress last week prohibited the transfer of CIA drone operations to the Department of Defense. The term “secret law” is most often used to refer to executive branch actions that mandate national policy without public notice, or that reinterpret existing statutes in dubious or counterintuitive ways that are not disclosed to the public. But in this case, an important national policy measure was literally written into law by Congress in secret.

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General Confirms Enhanced Targeting Capabilities of B61-12 Nuclear Bomb


By Hans M. Kristensen

The former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz, confirmed last week that the B61-12 nuclear bomb planned by the Obama administration will have improved military capabilities to attack targets with greater accuracy and less radioactive fallout.

The confirmation comes two and a half years after an FAS publication first described the increased accuracy of the B61-12 and its implications for nuclear targeting in general and the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe in particular.

The confirmation is important because the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) pledged that nuclear warhead “Life Extension Programs…will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.”

In addition to violating the NPR pledge, enhancing the nuclear capability contradicts U.S. and NATO goals of reducing the role of nuclear weapons and could undermine efforts to persuade Russia to reduce its non-strategic nuclear weapons posture.

Confirmation of the enhanced military capability of the B61-12 also complicates the political situation of the NATO allies (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) that currently host U.S. nuclear weapons because the governments will have to explain to their parliaments and public why they would agree to increase the military capability.

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