FAS Roundup:November 18, 2013

Death by polonium poisoning, negotiations between Iran and the United States and more.

Iran is Negotiating with the Wrong U.S. Officials

Last week, Iranian officials met with representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany (the P5 +1) regarding Iran’s nuclear program and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe.

Chris Bidwell, Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation and Law, writes in an op-ed published by Al Jazeera Americathat Iran is negotiating with the wrong U.S. officials in Geneva. The overtures made by Secretary of State John Kerry and his team of sanction experts seem out of sync with the will of Congress, which wants to keep current sanctions in place and is poised to pass new laws with even tougher economic sanctions. Instead, Tehran should be meeting with select members of Congress to convince them to end economic sanctions.

Read the op-ed here. 

From the Blogs

Pentagon Drone Programs Taper Off: The DoD budget for research and procurement of unmanned aerial systems (or drones) is on a distinctly downward slope. The FY2014 budget request included $2.3 billion for research, development, and procurement of unmanned aerial systems, a decrease of $1.1 billion from the request for the fiscal year 2013.

Death by Polonium?: Swiss scientists who tested samples from Yassar Arafat’s body have revealed that these samples contained at least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium, leading some to believe he died via polonium-210 poisoning. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y investigates the origins of polonium-210,  its uses and symptoms that would present from high levels of ingestion.

Leaks Divide Supporters, Opponents of Media Shield Bill: A bill that is intended to strengthen the ability of reporters to protect their confidential sources would encourage damaging leaks of classified information, congressional opponents argue. The Free Flow of Information Act was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12 and would establish a “qualified” reporter’s privilege whose application would be limited in several respects.

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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