Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

“Strengthening Deterrence” with More Nuclear Bombs?

Earlier this month the Department of Defense acknowledged that it has recently begun to deploy low-yield nuclear warheads on certain submarine ballistic missiles. “This supplemental capability strengthens deterrence. . . and demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario,” […]

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US Stands By the Chemical Weapons Convention

While the Trump Administration has retreated from negotiated arms control agreements in many areas ranging from nuclear weapons to anti-personnel landmines, the US is still committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which generally prohibits the production and use of chemical weapons. Last week the State Department certified to Congress — as a required condition of continued US participation in the […]

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State of the Union: Frequently Asked Questions, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following. History, Evolution, and Practices of the President’s State of the Union Address: Frequently Asked Questions, updated January 29, 2020 The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement: A Summary, January 29, 2020 The Washington Post’s “Afghanistan […]

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NNSA Moves to Expand Plutonium Pit Production

The National Nuclear Security Administration said last week that it will proceed with a plan to sharply expand production of plutonium “pits” — the explosive triggers for thermonuclear weapons — without performing a full “programmatic” environmental review. NNSA envisions producing “no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030,” including a minimum of 30 pits […]

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White House Rebuffs Declassification, Disclosure Requirements

Congress adopted numerous new disclosure and reporting requirements in the government spending bill that was signed into law last week. But the Trump White House said that many of them encroach on executive authority and that they may not be implemented as written. Several provisions of the FY2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act “purport to mandate or regulate the […]

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Many Reports to Congress May Go Online

Many of the hundreds or thousands of reports that are submitted to Congress by executive branch agencies each year may be published online pursuant to a provision in the new Consolidated Appropriations Act (HR 1158, section 8092). That provision states that any agency that is funded by the Act shall post on its website any […]

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Confronting Foreign Threats to Basic Research

Foreign scientists working in the U.S. are a vital part of the U.S. scientific research enterprise, a new report from the JASON scientific advisory panel said, and this country could hardly do without them. Yet in some cases they pose a challenge to the integrity of U.S. research programs. “In 2019, eight Americans were awarded […]

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Carter Page: Corruption Can Erode Secrecy Authority

Corruption in the executive branch diminishes the ability of federal agencies to preserve secrecy, wrote a then-21 year old named Carter Page in 1993 when he was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. See Balancing Congressional Needs for Classified Information: A Case Study of the Strategic Defense Initiative by Carter W. Page, May 17, 1993. […]

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JASON Science Advisory Panel Preserved

Congress has directed the Department of Defense to reach an “arrangement with the JASON scientific advisory group to conduct national security studies and analyses.” Last spring DoD officials sought to let the existing contract with the JASONs lapse, leaving the panel without a sponsor and threatening its continued viability. The new legislation rejects that move, although […]

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