What Are Acceptable Nuclear Risks?

When I read Eric Schlosser’s acclaimed 2013 book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, I found a tantalizing revelation on pages 170-171, when it asked, “What was the ‘acceptable’ probability of an accidental nuclear explosion?” and then proceeded to describe a 1957 Sandia Report, “Acceptable Premature Probabilities for Nuclear Weapons,” which dealt with that question. Unable to find the report online, I contacted Schlosser, who was kind enough to share it with me. […]

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Italy’s Nuclear Anniversary: Fake Reassurance For a King’s Ransom

By Hans M. Kristensen In December 1963, a shipment of U.S. nuclear bombs arrived at Ghedi Torre Air Base in northern Italy. Today, half a century later, the U.S. Air Force still deploys nuclear bombs at the base. The U.S.-Italian nuclear collaboration was celebrated at the base in January. A placard credited the nuclear “NATO mission” at Ghedi with having “protected the free nations of the world….” That might have been the case during the […]

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DOD Report Shows Chinese Nuclear Force Adjustments and US Nuclear Secrecy

The Pentagon’s latest annual report to Congress on the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China describes continued broad modernization and growing reach of Chinese military forces and strategy. There is little new on the nuclear weapons front in the 2014 update, however, which describes slow development of previously reported weapons programs. This includes construction of a handful of ballistic missile submarines; the first of which the DOD predicts will begin to […]

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Chinese Nuclear Missile Upgrade Near Dalian

By Hans M. Kristensen One of the last Chinese Second Artillery brigades with the old liquid-fuel DF-3A intermediate-range nuclear ballistic missile appears to have been upgraded to the newer DF-21 road-mobile, dual-capable, medium-range ballistic missile. A new satellite image posted on Google Earth from May 4, 2014, reveals major changes to what appears to be a launch unit site for the Dengshahe brigade northeast of Dalian by the Yellow Sea. The upgrade apparently marks the […]

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Nuclear Exercises Amidst Ukrainian Crisis: Time For Cooler Heads

By Hans M. Kristensen Less than a week after Russia carried out a nuclear strike exercise, the United States has begun its own annual nuclear strike exercise. The exercises conducted by the world’s two largest nuclear-armed states come in the midst of the Ukraine crisis, as NATO and Russia appear to slide back down into a tit-for-tat posturing not seen since the Cold War. Military posturing in Russia and NATO threaten to worsen the crisis and […]

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Resolving the Crisis in Ukraine: International Crisis Group’s Recommendations

As readers of the FAS Strategic Security Blog know, we have been concerned about the potential of the crisis in Ukraine to escalate, further worsening U.S.-Russian relations and possibly resulting in armed conflict involving NATO and Russia. As the May 25th presidential election in Ukraine is fast approaching, this post draws attention to advice and recommendations from the International Crisis Group, a highly respected non-governmental organization. Here’s the announcement of the major findings from the […]

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Russian ICBM Force Modernization: Arms Control Please!

By Hans M. Kristensen In our Nuclear Notebook on Russian nuclear forces from March this year, Robert S. Norris and I described the 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 […]

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Nuclear Modernization Briefings at the NPT Conference in New York

By Hans M. Kristensen Last week I was in New York to brief two panels at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (phew). The first panel was on “Current Status of Rebuilding and Modernizing the United States Warheads and Nuclear Weapons Complex,” an NGO side event organized on May 1st by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and […]

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US Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Number Declassified: Only 309 Warheads Cut By Obama Administration

By Hans M. Kristensen After a transparency hiatus of four years, the Obama administration has declassified the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile: 4,804 warheads as of September 2013. The new stockpile size is 309 warheads fewer than the 5,113 warheads that the administration in 2010 reported were in the stockpile as of September 2009. The new number of 4,804 warheads is 154 warheads more than Norris and I have in our latest Nuclear Notebook, […]

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