FAS Roundup: June 4, 2012

By June 4, 2012

Congress will allow Energy Department to reclassify nuke info, new biosecurity podcast and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Congress Will Allow Energy Department to Reclassify Nuke Info: Steven Aftergood writes that Congress is poised to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons-related information that is classified as Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) to be restored to the Restricted Data (RD) category. FRD and RD are both classified under the Atomic Energy Act, but FRD generally pertains to the utilization of nuclear weapons, whereas RD mostly deals with nuclear weapons design information.
  • Declassification of the Historical Backlog: The total number of pages of government records that were reviewed for declassification last year, as well as the number that were actually declassified, declined slightly from the year before, according to the 2011 annual report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) that was published on May 29, 2012.
  • Hot Tuna: In 2011, after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, there was significant concern regarding the spread of radioactive material. A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to suggest that Pacific bluefin tuna transported Fukushima-derived radionuclides across the entire North Pacific Ocean.
  • Move to Declassify FISA Court Rulings Yields No Results: An initiative that was started two years ago to declassify significant rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding domestic intelligence surveillance has produced no declassified records, a Justice Department official confirmed last week. In response to complaints about the rise of “secret law,” the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence established a new process in 2010 to declassify opinions of the FISA Courts (including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as well as the FIS Court of Review) that contained “important rulings of law.”

  • Congress’s Contempt Power and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S.-EU cooperation against terrorism, Congress’s contempt power and an overview of the financial action task force.


New Podcast

Anthrax. Smallpox. Plague. We are familiar with these potential weapons of mass destruction, but how do they differ from other WMDs?

In a new edition of the FAS podcast series, “A Conversation with an Expert,” Ms. Kelsey Gregg, Manager of the Biosecurity Program and Virtual Biosecurity Center discusses biological weapons and how they differ from other types of weapons. Additionally, Ms. Gregg discusses the Virtual Biosecurity Center, a program managed by FAS, which helped support the making of “The Anthrax Diaries,” a new documentary focused on the psychological and social issues faced by scientists who developed biological weapons.  The VBC  also provides a  ‘one stop shop’ for biosecurity information, education, best practices, and collaboration among government agencies, law enforcement, academia and non-governmental organizations.

To listen to the podcast, click here.



FAS is partnering with the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University to host the event, “Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences” on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 from 10am-12pm in Washington, DC. The program will focus on the life and legacy of nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat (1908-2005); his dedication to world peace and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons as the founder and driving force behind the international Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for six decades.  The program will consider the Pugwash Conferences’ contributions to ending the Cold War and reducing the nuclear threat in the post-Cold War world.

For more information on the program, click here.

To RSVP, please contact the Atomic Heritage Foundation at 202-293-0045 or via e-mail at info@atomicheritage.org.


Nuclear Transparency Using Satellite Imagery: On Thursday, June 7, FAS will host a conference regarding the use of satellite imagery to increase nuclear transparency. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at FAS, Matthew McKinzie, Senior Scientist with the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Tamara Patton, Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Geneva, will showcase their use of satellite imagery and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to monitor and analyze nuclear weapons and other security issues. The conference will be held at FAS from 10 am-12pm; to RSVP please e-mail rsvp@fas.org by Wednesday, June 6th.


FAS in the News


Categories: FAS Roundup