How Presidents Arm and Disarm

By Hans M. Kristensen [updated] It’s a funny thing: the administrations that talk the most about reducing nuclear weapons tend to reduce the least. Analysis of the history of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile shows that the Obama administration so far has had the least effect on the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile of any of the post-Cold War presidencies. In fact, in terms of warhead numbers, the Obama administration so far has […]

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W80-1 Warhead Selected For New Nuclear Cruise Missile

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Council has selected the W80-1 thermonuclear warhead for the Air Force’s new nuclear cruise missile (Long-Range Standoff, LRSO) scheduled for deployment in 2027. The W80-1 warhead is currently used on the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), but will be modified during a life-extension program and de-deployed with a new name: W80-4. Under current plans, the ALCM will be retired in the mid-2020s and replaced with the more advanced LRSO, possibly starting […]

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FAS Roundup: October 6, 2014

From the Blogs CIA: Cost of Personal Computer in 1987 is a Secret: Under the information policies of the CIA, even well known public information such as the cost of a personal computer may be withheld from public disclosure. In an article in the CIA’s journal Studies in Intelligence, the cost of the 1987 Commodore Amiga computer was redacted. Yet upon review, a CIA official said the redaction was made in error and the full […]

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New START: Russia and the United States Increase Deployed Nuclear Arsenals

By Hans M. Kristensen Three and a half years after the New START Treaty entered into force in February 2011, many would probably expect that the United States and Russia had decisively reduced their deployed strategic nuclear weapons. On the contrary, the latest aggregate treaty data shows that the two nuclear superpowers both increased their deployed nuclear forces compared with March 2014 when the previous count was made. Russia has increased its deployed weapons the […]

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President’s Message: The Nuclear Guns of August

“One constant among the elements of 1914—as of any era—was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true,” wrote Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August.1)Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York: Dell, 1962). Today, the United States and other nuclear-armed states are not addressing the harder alternative of whether nuclear weapons provide for real security. The harder alternative, I argue,  is to work toward elimination of these weapons at the same time as the security concerns of all states are being met. If leaders of states feel insecure, those with nuclear arms will insist on maintaining or even modernizing these weapons, and many of those without nuclear arms will insist on having nuclear deterrence commitments from nuclear-armed states. Therefore, security concerns must be addressed as a leading priority if there is to […]

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Insider Threat Program Advances, Slowly

Nearly two years after President Obama issued a National Insider Threat Policy “to strengthen the protection and safeguarding of classified information” against espionage or unauthorized disclosure, the effort is still at an early stage of development. Only last week, the U.S. Air Force finally issued a directive to implement the 2012 Obama policy. (AF Instruction 16-1402, Insider Threat Program Management). And even now it speaks prospectively of what the program “will” do rather than what […]

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Russia Declared In Violation Of INF Treaty: New Cruise Missile May Be Deploying

By Hans M. Kristensen The United States yesterday publicly accused Russia of violating the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The accusation was made in the State Department’s 2014 Compliance Report, which states: “The United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or […]

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A Look Behind President Clinton’s Veto of an Anti-Leak Bill

In 2000, both houses of Congress passed legislation that would have made any leak of classified information a felony. The provision, contained in the FY2001 intelligence authorization act, was designed “to ensure the prosecution of all unauthorized disclosures of classified information.” said Sen. Richard Shelby, the primary sponsor of the provision, at the time. While some unauthorized disclosures of classified information were already prohibited by statute (including the Espionage Act), others have not been specifically […]

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Wanted: A Chef with a Top Secret Clearance

A secure U.S. government facility in Herndon, Virginia needs a master chef who holds or who can obtain a Top Secret security clearance. The job opening was announced by Sodexo, the international food service company. “Sodexo’s Government Services Division is seeking a strong Executive Chef to manage all the culinary operations at a high profile government dining account in Northern Virginia. The successful candidate must be able to obtain a TS/SCI clearance,” the announcement said. […]

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Secrecy System Shows New Signs of Contraction

In 2012, the number of newly created national security secrets (or “original classification decisions”) dropped by a startling 42% from the year before, according to the Information Security Oversight Office. It was the largest annual drop ever reported by ISOO, yielding the lowest annual production of new secrets since such numbers began to be collected in 1979. (Secrecy System Shows Signs of Contraction, Secrecy News, June 25, 2013). Now it seems that this 2012 decline […]

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