In a challenge to Pentagon secrecy, Congress has told the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence to prepare an unclassified report on the nuclear weapons programs of the United States, Russia and China.
The requirement was included in the new House-Senate conference version of the FY2020 defense authorization act (sect. 1676).
The mandated report must include an assessment of “the current and planned nuclear systems” of the three nations, including “research and development timelines, deployment timelines, and force size.”
The Pentagon has been reluctant to issue its own unclassified estimates of foreign nuclear programs. Earlier this year DoD even refused to declassify the current size of the US nuclear stockpile, though it had previously done so every year since 2010.
The newly required report must be produced in unclassified form, Congress directed, though it may include a classified annex.
“Across the Department of Defense, basic information is becoming harder to find,” wrote Jason Paladino of the Project on Government Oversight in “The Pentagon’s War on Transparency,” December 5, 2019.