The INF Crisis: Bad Press and Nuclear Saber Rattling

By Hans M. Kristensen

Russian online news paper Vzglaid is carrying a story that wrongly claims that I have said a Russian flight-test of an INF missile would not be a violation of the INF Treaty as long as the missile is not in production or put into service.

That is of course wrong. I have not made such a statement, not least because it would be wrong. On the contrary, a test-launch of an INF missile would indeed be a violation of the INF Treaty, regardless of whether the missile is in production or deployed.

Meanwhile, US defense secretary Ashton Carter appears to confirm that the ground-launched cruise missile Russia allegedly test-launched in violation of the INF Treaty is a nuclear missile and threatens further escalation if it is deployed. Continue reading

Ballistic Missile Defense and Strategic Stability in East Asia

On February 20, 2015, FAS hosted a workshop examining ballistic missile defense in East Asia and strategic stability between the United States and China. A new project led by Charles Ferguson, FAS president, and Bruce MacDonald, Adjunct Senior Fellow for National Security Technology, is examining the security implications of possible Chinese deployment of strategic ballistic missile defense. In the Winter 2015 Public Interest Report, Ferguson writes about nuclear strategic stability between the United States and China, and results from research travel to China.

Frank Rose, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance at the State Department, served as the keynote speaker at the workshop. Rose spoke about China’s ballistic missile program, its relationship to China’s anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons program, and how to achieve strategic stability between the United States and China.

Rose’s remarks are available here. 

FAS Roundup: February 23, 2015

Winter 2015 Public Interest Report Now Online 

Winter 2015 Public Interest Report
Volume 68, No. 1

Look to Texas Rather Than Nevada for a Site Selection Process on Nuclear Waste Disposal
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For the past three years, Texas has been accepting what so many other states and localities have rejected in past decades- radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants. A newly opened private facility operated by Waste Control Specialists in Andrews County, Texas, has been receiving shipments of low-level radioactive waste from multiple states. With Nevada’s persistent and successful efforts, it is unlikely that Yucca Mountain will ever receive shipments of nuclear waste. What should  be the future nuclear waste policy of the United States? By Daniel Sherman.

President’s Message: Seeking China-U.S. Strategic Nuclear Stability
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There is a gap between American and Chinese perspectives on nuclear stability and strategy. The Chinese appear reluctant to use these weapons, but see the need for deterrence purposes. The United States is skeptical of China’s policy of no-first-use (NFU), in which China would not launch nuclear weapons first against the United States or any state. The worry from Washington is that NFU cannot be demonstrated and the posture can quickly change, especially with recent modernizations to China’s nuclear forces. By Charles D. Ferguson. 

Reflections on the 70th Anniversary of the Manhattan Project: Questions and Answers
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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project. Cameron Reed, professor of Physics at Alma College, reflects on the lessons learned from the Project including nuclear deterrence, ethics of using the bomb and if a project like this could be carried out today. By B. Cameron Reed. 

Nuclear Power and Nanomaterials: Big Potential for Small Particles
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A class of very small particles may be gearing up to lend a helping hand in making power plants more efficient and less costly to operate. Nanomaterials are natural materials whose defining feature is a small size; because of their size, the physical principles governing how particles behave and interact with their environments change. As a result, scientists are investigating how nanomaterials can be used to solve energy and defense problems. By Lamar O. Mair.

The Making of the Manhattan Project Park
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Fifteen years after the first efforts to preserve some of the Manhattan Project properties at Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1999, Congress enacted the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, signed by President Obama on December 19, 2014. There are over 40 properties that are officially designated as part of the park with provision for adding others later; the new park will focus on three major sites:  Los Alamos, NM, where the first atomic bombs were designed; Oak Ridge, TN, where enormous facilities produced enriched uranium; and Hanford, WA, where plutonium was produced. By Cynthia Kelly.

More from FAS
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News and Notes from FAS Headquarters.

From the Blogs

JASON on the Physics of Nuclear Weapons: Despite the extensive data obtained through the conduct of more than 1000 nuclear explosive tests, there is still much that is unknown or imperfectly understood about the science of nuclear weapons. In a recently declassified report obtained by FAS via a Freedom of Information Act request, the JASON science advisory panel assessed efforts by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to “develop improved understanding of the underlying physics of the materials and components in nuclear weapons.”

New DNI Guidance on Polgygraph Testing Against Leaks: Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper issued a new guidance this month on polygraph testing for screening of intelligence community personnel. His instructions give particular emphasis to the use of the polygraph for combating unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The use of polygraph testing to combat leaks has been a recurring theme in security policy for decades. Yet somehow neither leaks nor polygraph tests have gone away.

Leaks Damaged U.S. Intelligence, Official Says: Unauthorized disclosures of classified information by Edward Snowden have damaged U.S. intelligence capabilities, National Counterterrorism Center director Nicholas J. Rasmussen said at a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 12. “We have specific examples which I believe we have shared with the committee and the committee staff in classified session — specific examples of terrorists who have adopted greater security measures such as using various new types of encryption, terrorists who have dropped or changed email addresses, and terrorists who have simply stopped communicating in ways they had before, in part because they understand how we collected,” he said. This is not terribly persuasive, particularly since Mr. Rasmussen did not specify which leaks resulted in which changes by which terrorists at what cost to U.S. security. Nor is a public statement by an intelligence official before the Senate Intelligence Committee entitled any longer to a presumption of accuracy since the Committee permits errors to stand uncorrected.

Another State Secrets Case Ends in Dismissal: Last week, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency after the government asserted the state secrets privilege and argued that the case could not be litigated without jeopardizing national security. Former CIA officer Jacob E. Abilt (a pseudonym) had charged the Agency with employment discrimination, improper retaliation and wrongful termination, in December 2014, CIA Director John Brennan invoked the state secrets privilege to block the lawsuit.

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