China’s Science of Military Strategy (2013)

Updated below

In 2013, the Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army of China issued a revised edition of its authoritative, influential publication “The Science of Military Strategy” (SMS) for the first time since 2001.

“Each new edition of the SMS is closely scrutinized by China hands in the West for the valuable insights it provides into the evolving thinking of the PLA on a range of strategically important topics,” wrote Joe McReynolds of the Jamestown Institute.

A copy of the 2013 edition of the Science of Military Strategy — in Chinese — was obtained by Secrecy News and is posted on the Federation of American Scientists website (in a very large PDF).

“The availability of this document could be a huge boon for young China analysts who have not yet had the chance to buy their own copy in China or Taiwan,” said one China specialist.

An English translation of the document has not yet become publicly available.

But an overview of its treatment of nuclear weapons policy issues was provided in a recent essay by Michael S. Chase of the Jamestown Institute.

“Compared to the previous edition of SMS, the 2013 edition offers much more extensive and detailed coverage of a number of nuclear policy and strategy-related issues,” Mr. Chase wrote.

In general, SMS 2013 “reaffirms China’s nuclear No First Use policy…. Accordingly, any Chinese use of nuclear weapons in actual combat would be for ‘retaliatory nuclear counterstrikes’.”

With respect to deterrence, SMS 2013 states that “speaking with a unified voice from the highest levels of the government and military to the lowest levels can often enhance deterrence outcomes. But sometimes, when different things are said by different people, deterrence outcomes might be even better.”

SMS 2013 also notably included the first explicit acknowledgement of Chinese “network attack forces” which perform what the U.S. calls “offensive cyber operations.”

In a separate essay on “China’s Evolving Perspectives on Network Warfare: Lessons from the Science of Military Strategy,” Joe McReynolds wrote that the SMS authors “focus heavily on the central role of peacetime ‘network reconnaissance’ — that is, the technical penetration and monitoring of an adversary’s networks — in developing the PLA’s ability to engage in wartime network operations.”

On July 28, the Congressional Research Service updated its report on China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress.

Update: The Union of Concerned Scientists has published a detailed review of the 2013 Science of Military Strategy, including translations of some key passages.

JASON on the Physics of Nuclear Weapons

Despite the extensive data obtained through the conduct of more than 1000 nuclear explosive tests, there is still much that is unknown or imperfectly understood about the science of nuclear weapons.

A newly disclosed report prepared in 2011 by the JASON science advisory panel assessed efforts by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to “develop improved understanding of the underlying physics of the materials and components in nuclear weapons.”

The study was released in redacted form last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists. See Hydrodynamic and Nuclear Experiments, JASON report JSR-11-340, November 2011.

More recently, JASON performed “a short study of the science and technology enabling improved measurement, characterization, and understanding of the state of stress in engineered subsurface systems of the Earth’s crust.” See Subsurface Characterization, Jason letter report JSR-14-Task-013, September 2014.

Size of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Remains Classified

The U.S. government will not categorically declassify the number of weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal once and for all, but it will consider declassification of the size of the prior year’s arsenal on a case by case basis, the Department of Energy said last week.

In May 2010, the Obama Administration declassified the fact that there were 5,113 warheads in the U.S. arsenal as of September 2009. It was the first time in the nuclear age that the current size of the U.S. arsenal (or any nation’s arsenal) was officially disclosed.

Last year, the numbers were updated through September 2013, when there were a reported 4,804 warheads.

Why not make such disclosures routinely and as a matter of course? Last May, the Federation of American Scientists presented a proposal to that effect to the joint DOE/DOD Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) Declassification Working Group (DWG). Officials rejected the idea.

“The FRD DWG has determined that it cannot agree to your request at this time,” wrote Andrew P. Weston-Dawkes, the Director of the DOE Office of Classification in a December 30, 2014 letter.

Instead, “any public request for stockpile and dismantlement numbers beyond September 30, 2013, should be made as a separate declassification request for the prior fiscal year,” he wrote. “Public requests for this information will not be considered for future out-years.”

Accordingly, we submitted a request this week for declassification of the stockpile and dismantlement figures as of the end of fiscal year 2014 (i.e., September 30, 2014).

“As a matter of principle, information should remain classified only when doing so serves a valid and compelling national security purpose. We believe that continued classification of the size of the FY 2014 nuclear stockpile does not meet that criterion,” the FAS request said.

In the absence of officially declassified stockpile numbers, it is nevertheless possible for diligent students of the subject to reliably assess the size of the nuclear arsenal.

In February 2009, prior to the declassification of the 2009 stockpile figure of 5,113 warheads, Hans Kristensen and Robert S. Norris of FAS estimated the number to be 5,200 warheads, an impressively close approximation. The estimate was published in their Nuclear Notebook column, which monitors nuclear arsenals worldwide based on open sources, and which regularly appears in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Norris and Kristensen reflect on the origins and the purposes of the Nuclear Notebook in the latest issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. See “Counting Nuclear Warheads in the Public Interest,” January 2015.

FAS at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

The Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held on December 8-9 in Vienna; this was the third in a series of conferences organized by a growing number of countries and humanitarian organizations to discuss the risks nuclear weapons pose to humanity.

Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, participated in the conference and gave two presentations. The first was to the ICAN Civil Society Forum on the overall status of worldwide nuclear forces; presentation slides are available here. Kristensen and Matthew McKinzie from the Natural Resources Defense Council, presented on nuclear deterrence, nuclear war planning and scenarios of nuclear conflict; briefing slides are available here. 

Transcript of 1954 Oppenheimer Hearing Declassified in Full

The transcript of the momentous 1954 Atomic Energy Commission hearing that led the AEC to revoke the security clearance of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who had led the Manhattan Project to produce the first atomic bomb, has now been declassified in full by the Department of Energy.

“The Department of Energy has re-reviewed the original transcript and is making available to the public, for the first time, the full text of the transcript in its original form,” according to a notice posted on Friday.

The Oppenheimer hearing was a watershed event that signaled a crisis in the nuclear weapons bureaucracy and a fracturing of the early post-war national security consensus. Asked for his opinion of the proceedings at the time, Oppenheimer told an Associated Press reporter (cited by Philip Stern) that “People will study the record of this case and reach their own conclusions. I think there is something to be learned from it.”

And so there is. But what?

“No document better explains the America of the cold war — its fears and resentments, its anxieties and dilemmas,” according to Richard Polenberg, who produced an abridged edition of the hearing transcript in 2002 based on the redacted original. “The Oppenheimer hearing also serves as a reminder of the fragility of individual rights and of how easily they may be lost.”

It further represented a breakdown in relations between scientists and the U.S. government and within the scientific community itself.

“The Oppenheimer hearing claims our attention not only because it was unjust but because it undermined respect for independent scientific thinking at a time when such thinking was desperately needed,” wrote historian Priscilla J. McMillan.

First published in redacted form by the Government Printing Office in 1954, the Oppenheimer hearing became a GPO best-seller and went on to inform countless historical studies.

The transcript has attracted intense scholarly attention even to some of its finer details. At one point (Volume II, p. 281), for example, Oppenheimer is quoted as saying “I think you can’t make an anomalous rise twice.” What he actually said, according to author Philip M. Stern, was “I think you can’t make an omelet rise twice.”

The Department of Energy has previously declassified some portions of the Oppenheimer transcript in response to FOIA requests. But this is said to be the first release of the entire unredacted text. It is part of a continuing series of DOE declassifications of historical records of documents of particular historic value and public interest.

The newly declassified portions are helpfully consolidated and cross-referenced in a separate volume entitled “Record of Deletions.”

At first glance, it is not clear that the new disclosures will substantially revise or add to previous understandings of the Oppenheimer hearing. But their release does finally remove a blemish of secrecy from this historic case.

President’s Message: The Nuclear Guns of August

“One constant among the elements of 1914—as of any era—was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true,” wrote Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August.1)Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York: Dell, 1962). Today, the United States and other nuclear-armed states are not addressing the harder alternative of whether nuclear weapons provide for real security. The harder alternative, I argue,  is to work toward elimination of these weapons at the same time as the security concerns of all states are being met. If leaders of states feel insecure, those with nuclear arms will insist on maintaining or even modernizing these weapons, and many of those without nuclear arms will insist on having nuclear deterrence commitments from nuclear-armed states. Therefore, security concerns must be addressed as a leading priority if there is to be any hope of nuclear abolition.

Among the many merits of Tuchman’s book is her trenchant analysis of the entangled military and political alliances that avalanched toward the armed clashes at the start of the First World War in August 1914. The German army under the Schlieffen Plan had to mobilize within a couple of weeks and launch its attack through neutral Belgium into France and win swift victory; otherwise, Germany would get bogged down in a two-front war in France and Russia. But this plan did not go like clockwork. As we know from history, years of trench warfare resulted in millions of soldiers killed. The war’s death toll of military and civilians from multiple causes (including pandemic influenza) was more than 16 million.

The danger today is that alliance commitments could drag the United States into an even more costly nuclear war. While the United States must support its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and in East Asia (including Japan and South Korea), it must be wary of overreliance on nuclear weapons for providing security. This is an extremely difficult balancing act. On the one hand, the United States needs to reassure these allies that they have serious, reliable extended deterrence commitments. “Extended” means that the United States extends deterrence beyond its territory and will commit to retaliating in response to an armed attack on an ally’s territory. Such deterrence involves conventional and nuclear forces as well as diplomatic efforts.

NATO allies have been concerned about the security implications of Russia’s incursion into Crimea and its influence over the continuing political and military crisis in Ukraine. Do nuclear weapons have a role in reassuring these allies? A resolute yes has come from an August 17th op-ed in the Washington Post by Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley, and Franklin Miller.2)Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley, and Franklin Miller, “NATO-based nuclear weapons are an advantage in a dangerous world,” Washington Post, August 17, 2014. (The first two gentlemen served as national security advisers in the Ford, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations while the third author was a senior official in charge of developing nuclear policy for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.) Not only do these experienced former national security officials give an emphatic affirmation to the United States recommitting to nuclear deterrence in NATO (as if that were seriously in doubt), but they underscore the perceived need for keeping “the modest number of U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe.” The United States is the only nuclear-armed state to deploy nuclear weapons in other states’ territories.

The authors pose three arguments from opponents and then attempt to knock them down. First, the critics allegedly posit that NATO-based nuclear weapons “have no military value.” To rebut, Scowcroft et al. state that because NATO’s supreme allied commander says that these weapons have military value, this is evidence enough. While by definition of his rank he is an authority, he alone cannot determine whether or not these weapons have military value. This is at least a debatable point. Scowcroft et al. instead want to emphasize that the weapons are “fundamentally, political weapons.” That is, these forward deployed arms are “a visible symbol to friend and potential foe of the U.S. commitment to defend NATO with all of the military power it possesses.” But would the United States go so far as to threaten Russia with nuclear use? The authors do not pursue this line of questioning. Perhaps they realize that this threat could lead to a commitment trap in which the United States would risk losing credibility because it would not want to cross the nuclear threshold, but Russian President Vladimir Putin could call the U.S. bluff.3)For more on the commitment trap as applied to the riskiness of nuclear threats against chemical and biological weapons, see Scott D. Sagan, “The Commitment Trap,” International Security, Spring 2000, pp. 85-115.

The United States can still demonstrate resolve and commitment to allies with its strategic nuclear weapons based on U.S. soil and on submarines under the surfaces of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Moreover, the United States can show further support by working with European allies to make them more resilient against disruptions of energy supplies such as oil and natural gas from Russia. By implementing policies to reduce and eventually eliminate dependencies on Russian energy supplies, these countries will strengthen their energy security and have further options to apply economic and diplomatic pressure, if necessary, on Russia. These measures are not explicitly mentioned in the op-ed.

Rather, Scowcroft et al. argue that Russia has been modernizing its nuclear forces because these weapons “clearly matter to Russian leadership, and as a result, our allies insist that the U.S. nuclear commitment to NATO cannot be called into question.” But of course, these weapons are valuable to Russia due to the relative weakness of its conventional military. While Scowcroft et al. raise an important concern about continued modernization of nuclear weapons, this argument does not lead to the necessity of deployment of U.S. nuclear bombs in European states.

Scowcroft et al. then argue that NATO’s overwhelming conventional military superiority in the aggregate of all its allies’ conventional forces is a fallacy because it “masks the reality that on NATO’s eastern borders, on a regular basis, Russian forces are numerically superior to those of the alliance.” Moreover, “Russia’s armed forces have improved significantly since their poor performance in [the Republic of] Georgia in 2008.” The authors then state that looking at conventional war-fighting capabilities alone miss the point that “NATO’s principal goal is deterring aggression rather than having to defeat it. And it is here that NATO’s nuclear capabilities provide their greatest value.” Although I have no argument against deterring aggression, they have not proved the point that forward-deployed U.S. nuclear weapons have done so. Indeed, Russian forces have occupied parts of Ukraine. While Ukraine is not part of NATO, it is still not proven that U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe are essential to block Russia from potentially encroaching on NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Perhaps at best nuclear forces on either side have stalemated each other and that there are still plenty of moves available for less potent, but nonetheless powerful, conventional forces on the geopolitical chessboard.

Finally, they address the opponents’ argument that deep divisions run through NATO allies about the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. While they acknowledge that in 2007 and 2008 domestic politics in several alliance states fed a debate that resulted in several government officials in some European states expressing interest in removal of U.S. nuclear weapons, they argue that the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept (endorsed by all 28 NATO heads of government), demonstrates unity of policy that “We will maintain an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces [and] ensure the broadest participation of Allies in collective defense planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control, and communications arrangements.” Of course, one can read into this statement that “broadest participation” and “peacetime basing” can suggest forward deployment. On the other hand, the statement can be read as purposively ambiguous to iron over differences and achieve consensus among a large group of states. These governments have yet to seriously question nuclear deterrence, but this does not demand forward basing of U.S. nuclear bombs.

Left unwritten in their op-ed are the steps the United States took at the end of the Cold War to remove its nuclear weapons from forward basing in South Korea and near Japan.  Although some scholars and politicians in Japan and South Korea have at times questioned this action, the United States has frequently reassured these allies by flying nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers from the United States to Northeast Asia and emphasizing the continuous deployment of dozens of nuclear-armed submarine launched ballistic missiles in the Pacific Ocean. Japan and South Korea have not built nuclear weapons, and they have not experienced war in the region since the Korean War ended in 1953 in an armistice. It would be a mistake for the United States to reintroduce forward-deployed nuclear weapons in and near Japan and South Korea. These allies’ security would not be increased and might actually decrease because of the potential for adverse reactions from China and North Korea.

The urgent required action is for the United States to stop being the only country with nuclear weapons deployed in other countries, and instead it should remove its nuclear bombs from European states. The United States should not give other countries such as China, Russia, or Pakistan the green light to forward deploy in others’ territories. For example, there are concerns that Pakistan could deploy nuclear forces in Saudi Arabia if Saudi rulers make such a request because of their fears of a future nuclear-armed Iran.

In conclusion, ideas in books do matter. President John F. Kennedy during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis drew lessons from The Guns of August. The main lesson he learned was that great powers slipped accidentally into the catastrophic First World War. This sobering lesson in part made him wary of tripping into an accidental war, but he still took risks, for example, by ordering a naval quarantine of Cuba. (He called this action “quarantine” because a blockade is an act of war.) During the quarantine, it was fortunate that a Soviet submarine commander refrained from launching nuclear weapons that were onboard his submarine. This is just one example of how close the United States and Soviet Union came to nuclear war.

Let us remember that the crisis was largely about the United States’ refusal to accept the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba that was within 100 miles of the continental United States. At that time, the United States had deployed nuclear-capable Jupiter missiles in Turkey, which bordered the Soviet Union. Both sides backed down from the nuclear brink, and both countries removed their forward deployed nuclear weapons from Cuba and Turkey. Thus, it is ironic that we seem to be headed back to the future when senior former U.S. officials argue for U.S. nuclear bombs based in Europe.

 

Charles D. Ferguson, Ph.D.

President, Federation of American Scientists

 

Notes   [ + ]

1. Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York: Dell, 1962).
2. Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley, and Franklin Miller, “NATO-based nuclear weapons are an advantage in a dangerous world,” Washington Post, August 17, 2014.
3. For more on the commitment trap as applied to the riskiness of nuclear threats against chemical and biological weapons, see Scott D. Sagan, “The Commitment Trap,” International Security, Spring 2000, pp. 85-115.

Who’s Minding the Nukes?

In the wake of recent problems related to Air Force officer morale and test cheating, 60 Minutes examined the U.S. land-based nuclear missile program, one part of the nuclear triad which includes submarines and bombers. Reporter Lesley Stahl visited an underground control room at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming and spoke to the young officers who watch over these weapons which are on high alert. The control centers were built in the 1960s and due to aging infrastructure, officers who oversee the world’s deadliest weapons are working with computers so old they use floppy disks and outdated, faulty phones.

Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, worked with the production team of this piece to provide factual information on the status of the U.S. ICBM force. In 2013, FAS and the Natural Resources Defense Council examined the status of U.S. and Russian nuclear alert forces and provided recommendations to reduce the alert levels of nuclear forces; the report is available here.

60 Minutes piece (video and transcript) available here. 

In Closing

Last week, I was walking through Ueno Park as part of my annual cherry blossom pilgrimage. Among the trees and temples, I came across “The Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” I was deeply moved to read the story of Tatsuo Yamamoto, who went to Hiroshima in search of his uncle following the bombing and instead found a flame burning in the ruins of his uncle’s house. Yamamoto-san retrieved the flame and brought it back to his hometown of Hoshino-mura as a memorial. Over the years, the flame was preserved by the town and became a symbol of the desire to abolish nuclear weapons. In time, the flame was merged with another lit by the friction of broken roofing tiles of Nagasaki. That flame was then carried to the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly for Disarmament. The next year, the “Association for the Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Lit at Ueno Toshogu” erected “The Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial” to permanently enshrine the flame in Ueno Park.

Over the last year, I have been privileged to meet victims of the Hiroshima bombing and work with academics helping to preserve the stories of fallout victims from the Pacific Proving Grounds nuclear tests. Unfortunately, many victims are now reaching the end of their lives. So too are their contemporaries who lived through the great World Wars. In the short-term, decisions on international security will be inherited by the subsequent generation, who experienced firsthand the very real threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction during the Cold War. However, in the not too distant future, my generation will take over the reigns of power without the benefit of those collective memories. So, it is critical that memorials like the one in Ueno Park are maintained. They provide the best mechanism through which to inspire future generations to learn more about the risks associated with nuclear war.

As my time at the Federation of American Scientists draws to an end, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge three people in my life who have served as my inspiration.

The first was my grandfather. A veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, he never shied away from talking about war. As a former B-52 bombardier, he often talked about the firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He loved to debate on the merits of those attacks. From his perspective, they were justified by the fact that they saved hundreds of thousands of American lives and prevented a future nuclear war with the Soviet Union. When challenged, he liked to point out to his grandchildren that there was a very good chance that he himself would have been killed in the battle for the Japanese mainland – thereby eliminating his children’s and grandchildren’s prospect for life. Yet, he often struggled with the moral basis of those attacks. So, we often debated the merits of nuclear war driving down the road in his pickup truck. In retrospect, one of the most important gifts that my grandfather ever gave me was his memory of war. Without it, I would not have appreciated its true nature from my textbooks on strategic studies. Nor would I have been prepared to deal with my own experiences as part of the War on Terrorism.

The second was my father. A businessman of great character, one of his favorite sayings was, “They can take everything away from you except your education.” He lived by this mantra and ensured that his children were provided a level of education that far exceeded our economic status. This included coursework in ethics from an early age. Unfortunately, such training is largely absent in middle and high school education in the United States today. Being forced to confront the classical debates on morality as an adolescent radically shaped my worldview. It also ensured that my views on international politics, including on war, were grounded in ethical positions. Whereas my grandfather had stressed the practical need to always win wars, my education suggested that how one wins is equally important. Yet, when I went off to university, I found that my undergraduate education in International Relations failed to build on this point. Ethics and morality were largely absent from the subject as presented by my professors. Had it not been for the early education provided by my father, I would have graduated from university with a very narrow understanding of international politics grounded solely in international and domestic law. And, in my case, that would have meant that I would have gone to work at the Pentagon with a worldview that failed to account for ethics, morality, and philosophy in the conduct of war.

The third was my professor at SAIS. Professor David M. Lampton was one of the greatest teachers that I have ever come across in higher education. His lectures inspired his students to care deeply about East Asian regional security. By forcing us to confront contemporary issues like the North Korean Ballistic Missile Tests, he prepared us to make immediate policy relevant contributions to the international security discourse. Perhaps even more importantly, he always took a personal interest in our success. Unlike many other professors in foreign policy graduate programs, he was a teacher first and a policy expert second. Long after graduation, he would still support his students’ career ambitions and remained in touch with many. In my case, Professor Lampton inspired me to pursue my own PhD. He motivated me to get involved in foreign policy exchanges on East Asian security. And, he always provided a sounding board for new ideas. In short, he exemplified excellence in teaching through his actions and intentions. For this, I am very grateful.

Unfortunately, not everyone has such inspirations in their life. They may not have had a chance to meet a victim of a nuclear bombing or someone who has participated in a nuclear war. They might not have been provided an education that exposed them to ethics or prepared them to be a subject matter expert on international security. For these reasons, we must do more to preserve the memories of those who have survived nuclear attacks. We must also strengthen our education programs to teach future generations about the full risks associated with nuclear war. If we fail to do so, we cannot hope that future generations will appreciate the consequences of nuclear war to the same visceral extent as their predecessors. And, as a consequence, we cannot expect them to make the best policy decisions with respect to international peace and security.

Of course, it is my hope that this world will never experience another nuclear attack. But, I must admit that I find that to be wishful thinking. As we saw in Syria, the temptation to use whatever capabilities are at your disposal to win a conflict means the ever-present possibility of a nuclear confrontation. That is why I believe our only hope is global disarmament. I say this as a realist not as an idealist. And, I believe this goal is achievable. Yet, as Dwight D. Eisenhower famously cautioned in his 1955 Geneva Speech, “The quest for peace is the statesman’s most exacting duty. Security of the nation entrusted to his care is his greatest responsibility. Practical progress to lasting peace is his fondest hope. Yet in pursuit of his hope he must not betray the trust placed in him as guardian of the people’s security. A sound peace — with security, justice, well-being, and freedom for the people of the world — can be achieved, but only by patiently and thoughtfully following a hard and sure and tested road.” I do not believe that we will ever rid the world of war. But, we can eliminate the possibility that any one actor can unilaterally bring an end to our planet’s existence. If we are to achieve this goal, we must remain patient, vigilant, and committed to the objective of disarmament. And, we must always employ use of force while respecting ethical and social needs.

Michael Edward Walsh is the President of the Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre. He is also the President of Plan G Consulting. Since 2012, he has served as an Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Technologies and High-end Threats at the Federation of American Scientists. He can be followed on Twitter at @aseanreporting.

U.S. Military Nuclear Material Unaccounted For: Missing in Action or Just Sloppy Practices?

The United States has the gold standard when it comes to accounting for fissile materials especially in the military sector. Yet, for more than 30 years, government reports have sounded the alarm that the accounting system for these materials is not adequate. The United States is still not meeting its most stringent standards. If the nuclear material accounting system is not adequate, what does it imply for nuclear-armed states that are still manufacturing and remanufacturing warheads more frequently than the United States?

FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson examines missing U.S. nuclear fissile materials in a chapter of the new book Nuclear Weapons Materials Gone Missing: What Does History Teach? (published by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.) The chapter examines incidents of missing materials (such as missing highly enriched uranium from the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation in Pennsylvania from the 1960s) and provides an overview of U.S. military control and accounting systems and recommendations on how to improve these systems.

Read the chapter here (PDF).

Event: Faith Communities on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Soka Gakkai International-USA, FAS, Abolition 2000, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA and Women’s Action for New Directions invite you to a one-day conference examining the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and means for collaboration between the faith and advocacy communities on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. The event will be held from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Leaders from faith-based organizations, advocacy groups and government will come together to examine topics such as how faith views nuclear weapons, areas for partnership and U.S. nuclear policy.

The conference is free but advanced registration is required.

To RSVP and for conference agenda, click here.