FAS Roundup: February 18, 2013

By February 18, 2013

De-alerting nuclear weapons, Army use of drones, North Korea’s test and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Army Use of Drones in U.S. is Constrained, Not Prohibited: There are significant barriers to the Army’s use of unmanned aerial systems within the United States, according to a new Army manual, but they are not prohibitive or categorical. The question arises in the context of Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), referring to military assistance to government agencies in disaster response and other domestic emergencies.
  • Options for Reducing Nuclear Weapons Requirements: The Obama administration has decided that it can meet national and international security requirements with 1,000-1,100 deployed strategic nuclear warheads – 450-550 warheads less than planned under the New START Treaty. Hans Kristensen writes that this lower force level has the potential to save billions of dollars, but how much depends on how the administration decides to implement it. Additionally, Kristensen examines the possibilities of what the new  the new U.S. arsenal will look like with these cuts.

  • What’s the Difference Between an Executive Order and a Directive?: The Obama Administration issued policy statements this week on critical infrastructure protection and cyber security, including measures to encourage information sharing with the private sector and other steps to improve policy coordination.  Curiously, the Administration issued both an Executive order and a Presidential directive devoted to these topics. The simultaneous release of the two types of Presidential instruction on overlapping themes raises the question:  What is the difference between an Executive Order and a Presidential Directive?
  • North Korea’s Latest Test: The latest nuclear test by North Korea raises many questions such as what was the actual yield of the device, was it a uranium device or plutonium bomb. Dr. Y examines these questions in a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog.
  • Leak of White Paper Boosts Intelligence Oversight: The unauthorized disclosure last week of a Justice Department White Paper on the legality of targeted killing of senior al Qaida operatives who are Americans had the collateral effect of strengthening congressional oversight of intelligence. Steven Aftergood writes that the leak not only fulfilled a stalemated congressional effort to provide information to the public, but it also catalyzed the long-sought disclosure of classified documents to the intelligence committees themselves.
  • Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons Discussed in Warsaw: Director of the Nuclear information Project Hans Kristensen recently traveled to Warsaw for a conference on non-strategic nuclear weapons organized by Polish Institute of International Affairs, the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The conference commissioned eight working papers to form the basis for the discussions; Kristensen’s paper was focused on identifying common definitions for categories of non-strategic nuclear weapons and recommended starting with air-delivered weapons as the only compatible category for negotiations on U.S-Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons.


New Report: Reducing Alert Rates on Nuclear Weapons

In a new report titled Reducing Alert Rates of Nuclear Weapons (published by UNIDIR), Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, and Dr. Matthew McKinzie, Senior Scientist in the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, examine how the current alert levels exceed current and future security needs and undercut efforts to reduce the role of nuclear weapons.

The report finds that the United States and Russia have previously reduced alert levels of their nuclear forces and recommends that both countries continue this process by removing the remaining nuclear weapons from alert through a phased approach to ensure stability and develop consultation and verification measures.

Read the report here.


New Zealand High Commissioner: Shared Values Driving Ever Stronger U.S.-NZ Partnership

In a new article in the Huffington Post, Eddie Walsh, Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Technologies and High-end Threats, writes that there is a new period of cooperation between the United States and New Zealand, with emphasis on renewable energy, disaster response and climate change adaptation.

Read the article here.

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