FAS Roundup: June 16, 2014

By June 16, 2014

New issue of the PIR, DoD report on Chinese military forces and more.

Spring Issue of the Public Interest Report

The Spring issue of the PIR is now available online; it includes articles on Hezbollah’s use of drones, nuclear terrorism and Pakistan’s energy crisis.

Spring 2014 Public Interest Report
Volume 67, No 2


The Evolution of the Senate Arms Control Observer Group
PDF Version

The National Security Working Group (NSWG) began as the Arms Control Observer Group (ACOG) in 1985 and helped to build support for arms control in the Senate. This group created an official role for senators to join U.S. delegations as they negotiated arms control treaties. In recent years, there have been calls from both parties to revive the Observer Group, as there is diminishing nuclear policy expertise in a divided Senate. Additionally, there is a large need for a group of engaged and knowledgeable senators invested in arms control issues.  By Nickolas Roth.

President’s Message: American Scientists and Nuclear Weapons Policy
PDF Version

The first group of American atomic scientists who worked on nuclear arms control issues identified with three schools of thought: control, finite containment and infinite containment. The control group favored the international control of atomic energy and concepts which created multilateral means to control and safeguard fissile materials. Scientists who believed in finite containment were generally reluctant (and some opposed) to advocating for more powerful weapons. Those scientists who belonged to the infinite containment school argued for a world government or coalition of allied nations to enforce world peace. President Charles D. Ferguson applies these three schools of thought to the dilemma the United States is facing with Iran over efforts to control the Iranian nuclear program and confronting decades of mistrust.

Misconceptions and the Spread of Infectious Disease
PDF Version

New and improved medical treatments for infectious diseases are vital to improving global health security; however, public education is equally important. Myths and misperceptions regarding infectious diseases have detrimental effects on global health when a disease outbreak occurs. While it may seem that this problem is isolated to remote regions of the developing world, neither infectious diseases nor misconceptions regarding them are explicitly confined to certain areas. By Brittany Linkous.

Hezbollah and the Use of Drones as a Weapon of Terrorism
PDF Version

The international terrorist group Hezbollah, driven by resistance to Israel, now regularly sends low flying drones into Israeli airspace. These drones are launched and remotely manned from the Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon and presumably supplied by its patron and strategic partner, Iran.  As their sophistication grows, Hezbollah’s drones will be increasingly valuable for reconnaissance missions and could potentially carry and launch some weapons of mass destruction — biological and chemical weapons and even radioactive “dirty” bombs. In the hands of a jihadist group such as Al Qaeda, they could be used to kill civilians as a substitute for on-ground suicide attacks. By Milton Hoenig.

Keeping the Lights on: Fixing Pakistan’s Energy Crisis
PDF Version

From frequent attacks by Islamic militants across the country to a slowing economy, it is clear that there are many issues that threaten Pakistan’s stability. However, the most pressing issue that Pakistan faces today is its deteriorating economy. In particular, a crushing energy shortage across the country significantly constrains economic growth. By Ravi Patel and Nelson Zhao.

A Scenario for Jihadist Nuclear Revenge
PDF Version

When President Obama declared in 2009 that “nuclear terrorism is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security,” it was scarcely noticed. Passage of time and reluctance to think the unthinkable have generated complacency; no nuclear weapon has been used aggressively since the August 9, 1945, attack on Nagasaki. Terrorists now have new opportunities to covertly fabricate nuclear weapons on their own, and the threat is compounded by the potential anonymity of the attackers. By Edward A. Friedman and Roger K. Lewis.

More from FAS 
PDF Version

News and Notes from FAS Headquarters.

From the Blogs

Overclassification: Is there a Limit?: As far as can be determined, no classifier has ever been found to have willfully or culpably defied the rules set forth in the President’s executive order on national security classification. Is there any act of overclassification that is so egregious that the classifier would be held accountable for abusing his classification authority? The answer is unknown, since no one has ever been held accountable in such a case.

House Adopts A Comprehensive Reporters Privilege: A new amendment to the FY15 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill to provide near-absolute shield for reporters against compulsory disclosure of confidential sources was adopted by a vote of 225-183 on May 29, 2014. “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to compel a journalist or reporter to testify about information or sources that the journalist or reporter states in a motion to quash the subpoena that he has obtained as a journalist or reporter and that he regards as confidential,” the amendment reads.

DOD Report Shows Chinese Nuclear Force Adjustments and US Nuclear Secrecy: The Pentagon’s latest annual report to Congress on the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China describes continued broad modernization and growing reach of Chinese military forces and strategy. Up until 2010, the report included an overview of Chinese missile features, but removed in 2013 by the Obama Administration. Hans Kristensen provides an overview of the report including updates on Chinese land, sea and nuclear capable missiles.

NSA Releases NSPD-54 on Cybersecurity Policy: In January 2008, the Bush Administration issued the Top Secret National Security Presidential Directive 54 on Cybersecurity Policy which “establishes United States policy, strategy, guidelines, and implementation actions to secure cyberspace.” Despite its relevance to a central public policy issue, both the Bush and Obama Administrations had refused to release the Directive. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the NSA released a lightly redacted version of the document, most of which had been unclassified all along.

US Army Reflections on the Value of Military History: Far from being a subject of merely antiquarian interest, military history is an essential tool for training of soldiers and for institutional accountability, according to newly updated Army doctrine. In the new report Military History Operations (ATP 1-20, June 2014), the Army discusses what military history is for, its development over time, and the proper way to produce it.

Secrecy System Shows New Signs of Contraction: In 2012, the number of newly created national security secrets (or “original classification decisions”) dropped by a startling 42% from the year before, according to the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Per new ISOO annual report, in 2013 the number of reported new secrets continued to decline by additional 20%- another new record low.

The Fourth Amendment Third Party Doctrine and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as Internet governance, U.S.-China military contacts, the fourth amendment third party doctrine and Navy ship names.

Short Course on CBRN Weapons, Science and Policy

FAS and George Mason University will host a short course from July 7-9, 2014 as part of GMU’s 2014 summer program in International Security. This three day, non-credit short course is designed to introduce participants to the science, security, and policy dimensions of the threats of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons as well as ballistic and cruise missile.

This course is aimed at professionals in energy policy, nuclear policy, nuclear industry, public health, life sciences, law enforcement, emergency management and national security who have responsibilities for preventing, preparing for, or responding to acts by states, criminals, or terrorists using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

Click here for course information and registration. 

Petition the White House to Ensure a Secure Nuclear Future

FAS and the arms control community urge you to sign a petition asking the White House to reverse cuts to programs that prevent nuclear terrorism. The petition is as follows:

Dear Mr. President:

Your budget request makes deep cuts to vital nuclear security programs. These cuts increase the risk that terrorists could obtain materials to construct a crude nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb.

Your request for the National Nuclear Security Administration reduces funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative by 25% and International Materials Protection and Cooperation by 27%. It also slashes the Pentagon’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program by 27%.

We applaud your leadership on initiating the Nuclear Security Summit process. Still, as you said at the 2014 summit, significant work remains to be done.

Please work with Congress to ensure that these programs have resources to build a secure nuclear future where no American fears the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Click here to sign the petition. 

FAS in the News

Jun 13: NPR On The Media, “Intelligence Community Directive 119” 

Jun 11: Global Security Newswire“House Bill Seeks Answers On Costs Of NATO Nuclear Burden-Sharing”

Jun 10: New York Times, “Official Backs Marines’ Move To Classify Photos Of Forces With Taliban Bodies”

Jun 9: Time“Demand For Health Care Spikes As Veterans’ Ranks Fall”

Jun 5: Huffington Post“One Year After Edward Snowden’s Leaks, Government Claims Of Damage Leave Public In Dark”

Jun 5: Christian Science Monitor“The Snowden Documents: One Year Later, What Have They Changed?”

Jun 5: The Guardian“Edward Snowden, A Year On: Reformers Frustrated As NSA Preserves Its Power”

Categories: FAS Roundup