FAS Roundup- January 23, 2012

FAS Roundup: January 23, 2012

India’s rejection of nuclear weapons for warfighting, future of nuclear power, reclassificiation of nuclear weapons information  and much more.


From the Blogs

  • Dept of Energy Wants to Reclassify Some Info as “Restricted Data”:  Steven Aftergood writes that the Department of Energy has asked Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons information that has been removed from the “Restricted Data” classification category to be restored to that category. In a letter to Congress requesting the proposed amendment, Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested that the current arrangement leaves some nuclear weapons design information inadequately protected.
  • Indian Army Chief- Nukes Not for Warfighting:  On January 15, 2012, General V.K Singh said that India’s nuclear weapons “are not for warfighting.” Hans Kristensen writes that the rejection of nuclear warfighting ideas is a welcoming development in the debate over the role of nuclear weapons in South Asia.
  • Whither Nuclear Power?: In the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, Germany and Switzerland have put a halt to their nuclear power programs, America’s nuclear renaissance has slowed, and Japan is trying to figure out how to substitute alternative energy sources for nuclear power.  Dr. Y writes on the ScienceWonk Blog that it is understandable that the world might feel an aversion to nuclear power at the moment, but it is no more dangerous than any other form of energy.
  • Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace: The Army issued a new directive last week to govern the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems or “drones” within the United States for training missions and for “domestic operations.” Much of the Army’s UAS activity will be devoted to UAS operator training conducted at or near military facilities. But beyond such training activities, the military also envisions a role for UAS in unspecified “domestic operations” in civilian airspace.
  • Radioactive Tissues?: On January 12, 2012, Bed, Bath, & Beyond announced that it had received a shipment of steel tissue holders (manufactured in India) that were contaminated with radioactive cobalt-60. Dr. Y agrees that the tissue boxes are radioactive, but the question is whether or not they are sufficiently radioactive to cause health problems.
  • Testimony of Reporter Sought in Sterling Leak Case: In a brief filed in the case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling (who is accused of leaking classified information), prosecutors told the U.S. Court of Appeals that New York Times reporter James Risen should be compelled to testify at Mr. Sterling’s trial and to reveal whether it was Mr. Sterling who leaked information to him about a CIA program to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

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FAS Roundup-November 14, 2011

FAS Roundup: November 14, 2011

Dispute over nuclear weapons program costs, IAEA Iran report analysis, new documentary on anthrax, terrorist threat to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and more.

From the Blogs

  • Dispute over Cost of Nuclear Weapons Program:  Steven Aftergood investigates the radically different estimates of cost of the U.S. nuclear program presented by members of Congress in the past few weeks. The disparate estimates, which vary by hundreds of billions of dollars, reflect a lack of consensus about how to properly assess the cost of nuclear weapons.

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OPINION: Future of Nuclear Power in Japan – Advice from American Friend

TOKYO, March 15, Kyodo

Originally published by Kyodo News

I know that it can be difficult receiving advice from an outsider. I write as someone who greatly admires Japanese culture, science and engineering.

Japan has made some smart energy decisions. Tokyo responded wisely to the Arab oil embargo in 1973 by shifting electricity generation away from oil. In 1974, oil was used to generate about 66 percent of Japan’s electricity and today is only used for 11 percent. Nuclear energy was then a smart choice because Japan has very limited fossil fuel reserves.

However, Japan risks becoming too dependent on nuclear power especially in light of the events at Fukushima Daiichi. Presently about 30 percent of electricity is generated from nuclear energy, but Tokyo plans to increase this capacity to as much as 50 percent by 2050.

I am not recommending that Japan phase out nuclear power. Instead, I am offering advice that I learned from Japanese colleagues. They have often said that they prefer a balanced portfolio in which a mix of energy sources is used for electricity generation.

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