FAS Roundup: November 11, 2013

By November 11, 2013

China’s nuclear forces, “no spy zones” abroad, and more.

Chinese Nuclear Forces in 2013

Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris examine the status of China’s nuclear forces and determine that the arsenal is slowly growing and the capability of those weapons is also increasing. China has approximately 250 warheads in its stockpile for delivery by nearly 150 land-based ballistic missiles, aircraft, and an emerging submarine fleet.

China is assigning a growing portion of its warheads to long-range missiles, and it is estimated that the arsenal includes as many as 60 long-range missiles that can reach some portion of the United States. Members of the  U.S. intelligence community predict that by the mid-2020s, China could have more than 100 missiles capable of threatening the United States.

Read the article here.

From the Blogs

DoD Special Access Records To Stay Classified At Least 40 Years:According to a newly released DoD directive, special access programs (SAPs) will normally remain classified for at least 40 years. SAPs are established to protect particularly sensitive government information by imposing access requirements that exceed those for other classified information. The use of special access controls by the Department of Defense has proved problematic over the years because it disrupts the oversight protocols that would otherwise be in effect.

Intelligence Collection and Rule of Law: The list of things that U.S. intelligence agencies will not do to support the collection of foreign intelligence is likely to be shorter than the list of things that they will. Gathering intelligence means stealing secrets that another country (or other entity) does not wish to reveal. Towards that end, various forms of bribery, burglary, robbery, coercion and other crimes are tacitly understood to be permitted.

Once More Into the Breach: In a New York Times op-ed published on October 30, pediatrician and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott used the nuclear reactor accident in Fukushima as an opportunity to express her concerns about nuclear energy. Yet, Caldicott included a number of errors in her editorial that are sufficiently serious as to invalidate her conclusions. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y looks at some of claims in the op-ed (on topics such as radiation contamination) and explains the science behind it.

Establish “No Spy Zones”? Current Law Could Make it Hard: Disclosure of U.S. intelligence surveillance activities in Germany and other allied countries has aroused angry public reaction in those countries, and has prompted discussion of the possibility of negotiating “no spy zones” abroad in which certain types of intelligence collection would be renounced and prohibited. Steven Aftergood writes that a rarely-noted statute could make it difficult for any U.S. administration to achieve an international agreement involving binding new limits on intelligence collection against a foreign country, unless Congress enacts the limitation itself.

The CIA “Family Jewels,” Then and Now: In 1973, the Director of Central Intelligence ordered CIA officials to prepare a descriptive account of all CIA activities that were “outside the legislative charter of this Agency,” which is to say unauthorized or illegal. The purpose of the exercise was to identify operations that had “flap potential,” meaning that they could embarrass the Agency or embroil it in controversy. The resulting 700-page CIA compendium of unlawful domestic surveillance, wiretapping, mail opening and detention actions became known as “the family jewels.” A new book by historian John Prados reviews the origins and consequences of the family jewels document and the operations described in it.

U.S. Intelligence Challenged by Foreign Technological Innovation:A new report on U.S. intelligence research and development programs finds that it is challenged by foreign technological innovation. In order to adapt, the report  recommends that  the US intelligence community place renewed emphasis on scientific and technical intelligence and improve coordination and management of competing collection and analysis programs.

Economic Effects of Government Shutdown and More from CRS:Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as the economic effects of the recent government shutdown, U.S. concerns and policy responses to Iran and U.S. relations with Israel.

Biography of Dr. Richard Garwin

A crowdfunding effort to support a completed, published biography of Dr. Richard Garwin was launched on indiegog.com this week. Dr. Garwin is a world-famous physicist, designer of the first thermonuclear device (H-Bomb in popular speak), and has been an arms control advocate for half a century. He has been possibly the most highly regarded scientific advisor on national security issues to the U.S. government for nearly 60 years. He is one of the last major figures from the early Atomic Age and is still going strong, but no biography of him yet exists.

For more information on this project visit the site here. 

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