North Korean Nuclear Weapons, 2024: Federation of American Scientists Release Latest North Korea Nuclear Weapons Estimate

North Korea continues to modernize and grow its nuclear weapons arsenal

Washington, D.C. – July 15, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists today released the North Korea edition of the Nuclear Notebook, published in the  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and available here. The authors, Hans Kristensen, Matt Korda, Eliana Johns, and Mackenzie Knight, estimate that North Korea may have produced enough fissile material to build up to 90 nuclear warheads, but the famously opaque country has likely assembled fewer than that—potentially around 50. This is not a significant change from previous estimates (2021, 2022) but follows the trendline researchers are tracking. North Korea’s abandonment of a no-first-use policy coincides with the country’s recent efforts to develop tactical nuclear weapons.

Warhead Preparation and Delivery

While its status remains unclear, North Korea has developed a highly diverse missile force in all major range categories. In this edition of the Nuclear Notebook, FAS researchers documented North Korea’s short-range tactical missiles, sea-based missiles, and new launch platforms such as silo-based and underwater platforms Additionally, FAS researchers provided an overview of North Korea’s advancements in solid-fuel missile technology, which will improve the survivability and mobility of its missile force.

“Since 2006, North Korea has detonated six nuclear devices, updated its nuclear doctrine to reflect the irreversible role of nuclear weapons for its national security, and continued to introduce a variety of new missiles test-flown from new launch platforms,” says Hans Kristensen, director of FAS’s Nuclear Information Project

The size and composition of North Korea’s nuclear stockpile depends on warhead design and the number and types of launchers that can deliver them.

Disco Balls, Peanuts, and Olives

Researchers informally refer to North Korea’s nuclear warhead designs as the disco ball, peanut, and olive based on their appearance in North Korean state media. These images, taken from this recent issue of the North Korea Nuclear Notebook, show supposed warhead designs, including a single-stage implosion device (nicknamed “disco-ball”), a new miniaturized warhead called the Hwasan-31 (nicknamed “olive”), and a two-stage thermonuclear warhead (nicknamed “peanut”).  

Caption: Images from the Nuclear Notebook: North Korea, 2024. Top left “disco ball”, top right “olive”, bottom left “peanut”. (Source: Federation of American Scientists).

While North Korea’s warhead design and stockpile makeup are not verifiable, it is possible that most weapons are single-stage fission weapons with yields between 10 and 20 kilotons of TNT equivalent, akin to those demonstrated in the 2013 and 2016 tests. A smaller number could be composite-core single-stage warheads with a higher yield.

The Hwasan-31, first showcased in 2023, demonstrates North Korea’s progress towards developing and fielding short-range, or tactical, nuclear weapons. In addition to the development and demonstration of new long-range strategic nuclear-capable missiles, the pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons appears intended to provide options for nuclear use below the strategic level and to strengthen North Korea’s regional deterrence posture.

###

ABOUT THE NUCLEAR NOTEBOOK 

The FAS Nuclear Notebook, co-authored by Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, Eliana Johns, and Mackenzie Knight, is published bi-monthly in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The joint publication began in 1987. FAS, formed in 1945 by the scientists who developed the nuclear weapon, has worked since to increase nuclear transparency, reduce nuclear risks, and advocate for responsible reductions of nuclear arsenals and the role of nuclear weapons in national security.

This latest issue follows the release of the 2024 United States Nuclear Notebook. The next issue will focus on India. More research is located at FAS’s Nuclear Information Project.

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Nuclear Experts from the Federation of American Scientists Call for More Transparency from the Defense Department with Its Decision to Certify the Sentinel ICBM Program

The Air Force’s flawed assumptions, processes, and estimation methodologies have led to unprecedented cost overruns

Washington, D.C. – July 9, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) stands with fellow scientists and peer organizations critiquing the Biden administration’s decision to certify the Sentinel ICBM program, despite it being 81% over budget and two to three years behind schedule. This program does not improve American safety or global peace efforts, and is an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers.

The Pentagon’s review of the Sentinel came after the projected cost of the project rose by 37 percent, to $131 billion––requiring a re-evaluation of the program and a consideration of possible alternatives under the Nunn-McCurdy Act. Recent reporting from Bloomberg indicates that the Sentinel’s costs are now estimated to rise to $141 billion. This represents an 81 percent increase from the Pentagon’s own estimate in 2020.

“You can be for nuclear weapons modernization and think this program is both in trouble and needs a serious re-examination.  At 81% over budget and $140 billion and climbing, we owe it to consider real alternatives and get modernization right,” says Jon Wolfsthal, Director of Global Risk at FAS.

In its justification decision, the Pentagon suggested that the Nunn-McCurdy review team considered “‘four to five different options,’ including extending the aging Minuteman III missiles in 2070, ‘hybrid options of different ground facilities, mobile versus fixed,’ and others.” However, the Pentagon’s stated justifications for continuing the program, its timelines, and its funding are all questioned by the FAS team. 

Associate Director for FAS’ Nuclear Information Project, Matt Korda, asks: “Where does the year 2070 come from? The Air Force previously referred to the year 2075 in its program documentation, and as far as I know, neither year is codified in any official policy documents like the National Defense Strategy or the Nuclear Posture Review. Yet these benchmarks have enormous bearing on cost estimates, and can be purposely selected to tip the scales and make some options look more palatable than others.” Korda wrote a detailed report in 2021 showing how changes in these cost benchmarks would have indicated that alternatives to the Sentinel––such as life-extending the current fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs––would very likely have been cheaper than building an entirely brand-new weapon system. 

Director of FAS’s Nuclear Information Project, Hans Kristensen, is more pointed in his criticism: “Despite massively escalating cost projection, having sold the new Sentinel ICBM program to Congress based on unrealistic cost, the Pentagon says go ahead anyway.”

Kristensen and Korda are leading researchers on the global stockpile of nuclear weapons. Along with their colleagues, Senior Research Associates Eliana Johns and Mackenzie Knight, they produce and distribute, in conjunction with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Nuclear Notebook, detailed reports on the status of nuclear weapons worldwide.  

Knight was among the first to identify Sentinel’s extreme cost overruns and raise public awareness of this issue. In March she wrote what should happen next: 

Secretary Austin’s likely certification of the Sentinel program should be open to public interrogation, and Congress must thoroughly examine whether every requirement is met before allowing the program to continue. Congress should ask the Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office to conduct independent reviews to interrogate the Pentagon’s justification for Sentinel and ensure hawk-eyed scrutiny of the program’s next steps.

The Hill, March 1, 2024

She adds now: “The Sentinel program being allowed to continue despite an 81% cost increase sets a dangerous precedent. Whether the program is flawed, necessary, or not, Congress and the administration should not allow ostensibly limitless spending on nuclear weapons programs. How much is too much?”

More than 700 scientists, including ten Nobel laureates and 23 members of the National Academies, have signed a letter calling for President Biden and Congress to cancel the program, led by the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Federation of American Scientists Statement on the Supreme Court’s Elimination of Chevron Deference

Washington, D.C. – June 28, 2024 – Today’s ruling on Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and its companion case by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) eliminating Chevron deference, a Reagan-era interpretation, may handicap the government’s ability to rely on science and technology expertise to address pressing issues, warns the Federation of American Scientists.

“For a generation, Chevron deference has encouraged federal agencies to draw – and act – upon the science community’s expertise. The decision creates uncertainty about how federal action will be reliably informed by science and technology expertise moving forward and raises the specter of greater federal inaction, which is not the answer for the myriad challenges we face as a country,” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

As a non-partisan organization, FAS values evidence first and foremost. As currently structured, the courts and Congress lack the infrastructure to draw on the expertise of scientists and technologists that are required in many areas of federal agency action.

Scientific and technical experts are needed now more than ever

“The United States has benefitted from scientific and technical experts to interpret ambiguity and implement the law according to the knowledge-specific demands of a particular issue; judges cannot and should not be expected to know every aspect and detail of technical policy,” says James Campbell, J.D., Wildfire Policy Specialist at the Federation of American Scientists.

We rely on judges for their legal expertise, not their knowledge of nuclear weapons, healthcare practices, novel energy technologies, climate models, epidemiology, and natural disasters.

The elimination of the Chevron doctrine will likely limit the role of science in policy making and scientists in agencies. Expertise from scientists and technologists within government will be critical as the country works to keep pace with the speed of progress in critical and emerging areas such as artificial intelligence. “What do we do if we cannot act as fast as potential dangers are exposed?” asks Grace Wickerson, M.S., Health Equity Policy Manager at the Federation of American Scientists. 

“Government has a responsibility to invest in science and technology expertise and to utilize that expertise to maximize the efficiency, dynamism, and intended impacts of its programs. This technical expertise is critical to responding to our most pressing issues, including climate change, modernizing infrastructure, and improving public health. Scientists in agencies should have the ability to implement their vast knowledge on topics of importance to all Americans” says Kelly Fleming, Ph.D, Associate Director, Clean Energy at the Federation of American Scientists. 

Additional Background 

Chevron deference refers to SCOTUS’ 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which recognized that when Congress leaves ambiguity — whether intended or not — in the laws it passes, courts should defer to the federal agencies’ valid interpretation of those laws. Federal agencies are appropriate for this role given their ample subject matter expertise and their accountability to the American people through congressional oversight and presidential elections.

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) Must Include Online Civil Rights, Says the Federation of American Scientists

Require that personal data is processed safely and fairly

Washington, DC – June 27, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists believes that the House Energy & Commerce Committee made the right decision in canceling its markup of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) today. Privacy laws are only effective if they include civil rights protections that ensure personal data is processed safely and fairly regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age, or other protected characteristics.

“We believe that the United States needs federal data privacy laws, and despite the clear shortcomings of the latest version of APRA, we commend Chair McMorris Rodgers and Ranking Member Pallone for their leadership and efforts in advancing comprehensive privacy legislation. We hope the conversation on privacy doesn’t end here, and that new attempts to pass privacy legislation include the critical civil rights protections necessary to build trust across all communities participating in our data-based society,” says Dan Correa, CEO of Federation of American Scientists.

“The latest draft of APRA not only discards basic protections, but also baseline considerations for AI and other algorithms that would prevent data-based discrimination. If this draft became law, it would also undermine hard-fought privacy protections currently in effect in several states,” says Clara Langevin, AI Policy Specialist on FAS’s Emerging Technologies team. 

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

22 Organizations Urge Department of Education to Protect Students from Extreme Heat at Schools

Twenty-two organizations and 29 individuals from across 12 states sent a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Education to take urgent action to protect students from the dangers of extreme heat on school campuses

WASHINGTON — With meteorologists predicting a potentially record-breaking hot summer ahead, a coalition of 22 organizations from across 12 states is urgently calling on the Department of Education to use its national platform and coordinating capabilities to help schools prepare for and respond to extreme heat. In a coalition letter sent today, spearheaded by the Federation of American Scientists and UndauntedK12, the groups recommend streamlining funding, enhancing research and data, and integrating heat resilience throughout education policies.

“The heat we’re experiencing today will only get worse. Our nation’s classrooms and campuses were not built to withstand this heat, and students are paying the price when we do not invest in adequate protections. Addressing extreme heat is essential to the Department of Education’s mission of equitable access to healthy, safe, sustainable, 21st century learning environmentssays Grace Wickerson, Health Equity Policy Manager at the Federation of American Scientists, who recently authored a policy memo on addressing heat in schools.

Many schools across the country – especially in communities of color – have aging infrastructure that is unfit for the heat. This infrastructure gap exposes millions of students to temperatures where it’s impossible to learn and unhealthy even to exist. Despite the rapidly growing threat of extreme heat fueled by climate change, no national guidance, research and data programs, or dedicated funding source exists to support U.S. schools in adapting to the heat.

“Many of our nation’s school campuses were designed for a different era – they are simply not equipped to keep children safe and learning with the increasing number of 90 and 100 degree days we are now experiencing due to climate change. Our coalition letter outlines common sense steps the Department of Education can take right now to move the needle on this issue, which is particularly pressing in schools serving communities of color. All students deserve access to healthy and climate-resilient classrooms,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of UndauntedK12.

The coalition’s recommendations include:

  1. Publish guidance on school heat readiness, heat planning best practices, model programs and artifacts, and strategies to build resilience (such as nature-based solutions) in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NIHHIS, and subject-area expert partners.
  2. Join the Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group led by the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS).
  3. Use ED’s platform to encourage states to direct funding resources for schools to implement targeted heat mitigation and increase awareness of existing funds (i.e. from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) that can be leveraged for heat resilience. Further Ed and the IRS should work together to understand the financing gap between tax credits coverage and true cost for HVAC upgrades in America’s schools.
  4. Direct research and development funding through the National Center for Educational Statistics and Institute for Education Sciences toward establishing regionally-relevant indoor temperature standards for schools to guide decision making based on rigorous assessments of impacts on children’s health and learning.
  5. Adapt existing federal mapping tools, like the NCES’ American Community Survey Education Tabulation Maps and NIHHIS’ Extreme Heat Vulnerability Mapping Tool, to provide school district-relevant information on heat and other climate hazards. As an example, NCES just did a School Pulse Panel on school infrastructure and could in future iterations collect data on HVAC coverage and capacity to complete upgrades.
  6. Evaluate existing priorities and regulatory authority to identify ways that ED can incorporate heat readiness into programs and gaps that would require new statutory authority.

The Federation of American Scientists and UndauntedK12 and our partner organizations welcome the opportunity to meet with the Department of Education to discuss these recommendations and to provide support in developing much needed guidance as we enter another season of unprecedented heat. 

###

About UndauntedK12

UndauntedK12 is a nonprofit organization with a mission to support America’s K-12 public schools to make an equitable transition to zero carbon emissions while preparing youth to build a sustainable future in a rapidly changing climate.

About Federation of American Scientists

FAS envisions a world where cutting-edge science, technology, ideas and talent are deployed to solve the biggest challenges of our time. We embed science, technology, innovation, and experience into government and public discourse in order to build a healthy, safe, prosperous and equitable society. 

Nuclear Experts from the Federation of American Scientists Contribute to SIPRI Yearbook 2024

FAS’s Nuclear Information Project estimates that the combined global inventory of nuclear warheads is approximately 12,120

Washington, DC – June 17, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists’ nuclear weapons researchers Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda with the Nuclear Information Project write in the new SIPRI Yearbook, released today, that the world’s nuclear arsenals are on the rise, and massive modernization programs are underway.

“China is expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than any other country,” said Hans M. Kristensen, Associate Senior Fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). “But in nearly all of the nuclear-armed states, there are either plans or a significant push to increase nuclear forces.”

“We are entering a new period in the post-Cold War era as nuclear stockpiles increase and nuclear transparency decreases. It is, therefore, extremely important for independent researchers to inject factual data into the debate,” says Matt Korda, Associate Researcher in the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Senior Research Fellow at FAS. 

Kristensen and Korda are leading researchers on the global stockpile of nuclear weapons. Along with their colleagues Eliana Johns and Mackenzie Knight, the Nuclear Information Project team at FAS produces the Nuclear Notebook, a bi-monthly report published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists detailing current estimates of nuclear weapon stockpiles. This work plays an increasingly important role as government transparency about nuclear forces continues to decline around the globe. Ongoing reports, archives, and other materials are available at fas.org.

The first edition of the SIPRI Yearbook was released in 1969, with the aim of producing “a factual and balanced account of a controversial subject-the arms race and attempts to stop it.” Interested parties may download excerpts from the latest Yearbook in several languages here, or purchase the report in full.

Read a summary of SIPRI findings by FAS Nuclear Information Project researcher Eliana Johns here.

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Science and Tech Leaders Jim Gates, Theresa Mayer, and Allison Scott Join the Federation of American Scientists Board

FAS thanks Vice Chair Dr. Rosina Bierbaum for her 20+ years of service

Washington, DC – June 7, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) today announced the addition of three new members to its board of directors, and celebrated Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, who is stepping down as board vice-chair after serving on the board for more than 20 years, helping to grow the science organization into a leading voice in science policy. The three new members to serve the nonpartisan organization include Drs: Jim Gates, Theresa Mayer, and Allison Scott.

“These changes on the FAS board represent a milestone for the organization. First, we owe so much to the multi-decade dedication of Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, whose vision and tireless stewardship of the organization have paved the way for our success. Rosina, thank you,” said Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

He continued: “Second, it is an honor to welcome to the board three leaders who each bring a new perspective and expertise that will help guide the organization as we refine an ambitious, expanded vision for impact. They all exemplify the highest standards of science and technology leadership, scholarship and service.”

“My time leading this board could never have been as enjoyable or as impactful without my partnership with Rosina Bierbaum,” FAS Board Chair Gilman Louie added. “We believe Jim Gates, Theresa Mayer and Allison Scott are the right people to carry on the stewardship that Rosina exemplified.”

New Arrivals to the FAS Board

Jim Gates (full bio here)


Dr. Sylvester James (“Jim”) Gates Jr.
works at the boundary of physics and mathematics. He is a theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, where he is a University System Regents Professor, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics, and a College Park Professor. He also holds the Clark Leadership Chair in Science at the University of Maryland and is also a Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public Policy. Gates earned two Bachelor of Science degrees (in physics and mathematics) and his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gates co-authored Superspace: One Thousand and One Lessons in Supersymmetry, the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry in 1984, and has since authored more than 200 research papers. Among his many accomplishments and awards: he became the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university; received the National Medal of Science – the highest award given to scientists in the U.S. – from President Obama (2013); and his 2015 essay “Thoughts on Creativity, Diversity and Innovation in Science & Education” was cited in the Supreme Court decision known as “Fisher v. Texas.” He served seven years on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), under President Obama.  2024 marks fifty-three consecutive years of university-level teaching at institutions as diverse as Caltech, Howard University, Gustavus Adophus College, MIT, Brown University, and the University of Maryland. Gates regularly appears in documentaries and other media, in addition to his ongoing technical work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory.

Theresa Mayer (full bio here)

Dr. Theresa S. Mayer is Carnegie Mellon University’s Vice President for Research, providing leadership for the University’s research enterprise and advocating for the role that science, technology, and innovation play nationally and globally. She is internationally recognized for her research in applications of nanotechnology, enabling a wide range of novel structures from low-power integrated nanosensor circuits to nanostructured gradient index optical components. In addition to being Carnegie Mellon University’s Vice President for Research, Mayer holds joint faculty appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering. Previously, she was at Purdue University, where she oversaw Purdue’s research enterprise as Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships and a professor of electrical and computer engineering. Prior to that Mayer served as Vice President for Research and Innovation and as a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. She has more than 350 technical publications, invited presentations and tutorials, and holds eight patents. Several of her co-inventions have been transitioned into commercial products. Mayer’s  research is enabling a wide range of novel structures from low-power integrated nanosensor circuits to nanostructured gradient index optical components.

Allison Scott  (full bio here

Dr. Allison Scott is the CEO of the Kapor Foundation, which focuses at the intersection of racial justice and technology and works to remove barriers in access and opportunity, such that the promise and potential of technology can be harnessed to create a more equitable future. Under her leadership, the Foundation works to: (a) expand equity in K-12 computer science education, (b) increase diversity within tech companies and VC firms, and (c) advance equitable tech policy to transform the technology ecosystem. The Foundation’s strategies include producing research, deploying strategic grants, supporting policy advocacy, and investing in tech entrepreneurs and venture funds. Dr. Scott is currently a Principal Investigator on multiple national grants to expand equity in computer science education and in her previous role as the Chief Research Officer, authored foundational research on inequity in CS education and disparities in the tech sector. Previous positions included: Chief Research Officer at the Kapor Center; Program Leader for the National Institutes of Health’s Enhancing the Diversity of the Biomedical Workforce Initiative; Director of Research and Evaluation for the Level Playing Field Institute, and Data Analyst for the Education Trust-West. Dr. Scott holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hampton University.  

With Thanks for Dedicated Service to the FAS Board

Rosina Bierbaum (full bio here)

Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, FAS Vice Chair, will step away after more than 20 years of service to the FAS board. Bierbaum’s research is on the interface of science and policy—principally on issues related to climate change adaptation and mitigation—at the national and international levels. Her experience extends from climate science into foreign relations and international development. Bierbaum served for two decades in both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government, and ran the first Environment Division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Bierbaum’s distinguished career includes university teaching, government service in the White House, influential writing on climate change (including 1993’s Preparing for an Uncertain Climate), as well as numerous other awards, publications, and board positions. Bierbaum holds an appointment in the School of Public Health at Michigan, and in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. She has lectured on every continent, and in more than 20 countries. Bierbaum earned a BA in English, a BS in biology, and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution.

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Applauds the Newly Announced Board Selected to Lead the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation (FESI)

FAS eager to see the Board set an ambitious agenda that aligns with the potential scale of FESI’s impact

Washington, D.C. – May 9, 2024 – Earlier today Secretary of Energy Granholm took the first official step to stand up the Department of Energy-affiliated non-profit Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation (FESI) by appointing its inaugural board. Today the “Friends of FESI” Initiative of the nonpartisan, non-profit Federation of American Scientists (FAS) steps forward to applaud the Secretary, congratulate the new board members, and wish FESI well as it officially begins its first year. The Inaugural FESI Board consists of 13 accomplished members whose backgrounds span the nation’s regions and communities and who have deep experience in innovation, national security, philanthropy, business, science, and other sectors. It includes:

Since the CHIPS and Science Act authorized FESI in 2022, FAS, along with many allies and supporters who collectively comprise the “Friends of FESI,” have been working to enable FESI to achieve its full potential as a major contributor to the achievement of DOE’s vital goals. “Friends of FESI” has been seeking projects and activities that the foundation could take on that would advance the DOE mission through collaboration with private sector and philanthropic partners.

“FAS enthusiastically celebrates this FESI milestone because, as one of the country’s oldest science and technology-focused public interest organizations, we recognize the scale of the energy transition challenge and the urgency to broker new collaborations and models to move new energy technology from lab to market,” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS. “As a ‘Friend of FESI’ FAS continues our outreach amongst our diverse network of experts to surface the best ideas for FESI to consider implementing.” The federation is soliciting ideas at fas.org/fesi, underway since FESI’s authorization.

FESI has great potential to foster the public-private partnerships necessary to accelerate the innovation and commercialization of technologies that will power the transition to clean energy. Gathering this diverse group of accomplished board members is the first step. The next is for the FESI Board to pursue projects set to make real impact. Given FESI’s bipartisan support in the CHIPS & Science Act, FAS hopes the board is joined by Congress, industry leaders and others to continue to support FESI in its initial years. 

“FESI’s establishment is a vital initial step, but its value will depend on what happens next,” says David M. Hart, a professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and leader of the “Friends of FESI” initiative at FAS. “FESI’s new Board of Directors should take immediate actions that have immediate impact, but more importantly, put the foundation on a path to expand that impact exponentially in the coming years. That means thinking big from the start, identifying unique high-leverage opportunities, and systematically building the capacity to realize them.”


###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.


Resources

Building a Firm Foundation for the DOE Foundation: It All Starts with a Solid Board
https://fas.org/publication/fesi-board-launch/

FAS use case criteria:
https://fas.org/publication/fesi-priority-use-cases/

FAS open call for FESI ideas:
https://fas.org/publication/share-an-idea-for-what-fesi-can-do-to-advance-does-mission/

DOE announcing FESI board:
https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-appoints-inaugural-board-directors-groundbreaking-new-foundation

DOE release announcing FESI:
https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-launches-foundation-energy-security-and-innovation



America’s Nuclear Weapons Arsenal 2024: Annual Overview Released by the Federation of American Scientists

FAS researchers, in partnership with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, release this seminal account each year in the “Nuclear Notebook”

Washington, D.C. – May 7, 2024 – Nuclear experts at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) today released “Nuclear Notebook: United States Nuclear Weapons 2024,” an annual overview of the current status and trends of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. The FAS Nuclear Notebook is widely considered the most accurate public source for information on global nuclear arsenals for all nine nuclear-armed states.

This year’s report, produced in partnership with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and available in full here, shows the following nuclear trends as Americans enter a presidential election year:

In this issue of the Nuclear Notebook, FAS estimates that the United States maintains a stockpile of approximately 3,708 warheads—an unchanged estimate from the previous year. The total number of U.S. nuclear warheads are now estimated to include 1,770 deployed warheads, 1,938 reserved for operational forces. An additional 1,336 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement, for a total inventory of approximately 5,044 warheads.

Of the deployed warheads, FAS estimates 400 are on intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs], 970 on submarine-launched ballistic missiles [SLBMs], and 300 are located at bomber bases in the United States and approximately 100 tactical bombs are at European bases. 

The United States has embarked on a wide-ranging nuclear modernization program that will ultimately see every nuclear delivery system replaced with newer versions over the coming decades. The total cost of this modernization could reach over $1.7 trillion. Calls to increase the nuclear arsenal would increase cost further and compete with non-nuclear defense needs.

The New START treaty, established in 2010 between the United States and Russia, has proven useful so far in keeping a lid on both countries’ deployed strategic forces. But the treaty expires in February 2026 and a decision to renew or not will be made by the next administration. If it is not followed by a new agreement, both the United States and Russia could potentially increase their deployed nuclear arsenals by uploading several hundred of stored reserve warheads onto their launchers. 

FAS Nuclear Experts and Previous Issues of Nuclear Notebook

The FAS Nuclear Notebook, co-authored by Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, Eliana Johns, and Mackenzie Knight, is published bi-monthly in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The joint publication began in 1987. FAS, formed in 1945 by the scientists who developed the nuclear weapon, has worked since to increase nuclear transparency, reduce nuclear risks, and advocate for responsible reductions of nuclear arsenal and their role. 

This latest issue on the United State’s nuclear weapons comes after the release of Nuclear Notebook: Russian Nuclear Forces, 2024 on Russia’s nuclear arsenal. More research is located at FAS’s Nuclear Information Project.


###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

The Federation of American Scientists Presents Policy Proposals to Address the Human Toll of Extreme Heat, Hosts Summit with Arizona State University

The Federation of American Scientists Solicited Input from 85+ Experts to Address Impacts on the Workforce, Built Environment, Disaster Preparedness, Planning and Resilience, and Food Security

Washington, DC – April 29, 2024 – March 2024 was the 10th consecutive month to break temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Given the temperatures for the first three months of the year, it’s virtually certain 2024 will be one of the world’s top five warmest years on record globally, NOAA reports, and each year thereafter is likely to be even hotter. In the absence of a national strategy to address the compounding impacts of extreme heat, states, counties, and cities around the country have had to take on the responsibility of experimenting and attempting to address this reality in their communities with limited available resources. While state and local governments can make significant advances, national extreme heat resilience requires a “whole of government” federal approach. 

To meet this need, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) spent the fall and winter working with more than 85 scientific experts to develop a comprehensive set of policy proposals, found here and listed below, to address extreme heat and its many detrimental effects. The resulting policy memos aim to be force multipliers to existing federal efforts to address heat and enhance resilience to climate change.

“The mild Spring temperatures we’re experiencing in Washington, D.C. right now are still above normal and trending up. That’s cause for concern, especially when it comes to human health impacts,” says Erica Goldman, FAS Director of Science Policy Entrepreneurship, who — along with Grace Wickerson, FAS Health Equity Policy Manager and Autumn Burton, FAS Senior Associate of Climate, Health, and Environment — worked with experts across the country to develop the policy proposals.

“The effects of extreme heat disproportionately burden people who work outdoors, and those of limited financial means living in poorly insulated housing or without air conditioning. Outdoor workers, children and elderly people are at elevated risk of severe outcomes, including death. The effects of extreme heat are devastating to those experiencing homelessness,” says Grace Wickerson.

They continue: “Even if we put aside the harm heat places on our physical bodies, there is no denying extreme heat has consequential knock-on effects in many areas of our society. These include worker productivity, livable cities, and food security, to name just a few. No one is immune from the effects.”

These proposals are timely. Just two weeks ago Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed into law HB 433, which prevents local governments from requiring heat protection for the estimated 2 million people in the state who work outdoors. Right now, as extreme heat events are becoming increasingly frequent and intense, we need effective, intentional policies to protect vulnerable populations that are disproportionately impacted: outdoor laborers, low-income, BIPOC, seniors, veterans, children, the unhoused, and those with compromised health status, among others.

Extreme Heat Policy Innovation Summit 

These policy memos were presented at the FAS and Arizona State University’s Knowledge Exchange for Resilience’s (ASU KER) Extreme Heat Policy Innovation Summit on April 9th and April 10th. Over two days, 200+ stakeholders came together for the first time to discuss policy innovation to build heat resilience at all levels of government: local, state, tribal, territorial, and federal. FAS and ASU KER will continue to support this community of practice, in order to collectively work towards a whole-of-government strategy on extreme heat preparedness, response, mitigation, and resilience. As we enter the next hottest summer on record, we need transformative ideas as well as sustained collaborations that ensure full implementation.

Here are the FAS policy proposals to address extreme heat.

Infrastructure and the Built Environment 

It is vital that the federal government integrate climate resilience into all federal funding grants and investments.

A Comprehensive Strategy to Address Extreme Heat in Schools 

Rebecca Morgenstern-Brenner, Amie Patchen, Alistair Hayden, Nathaniel Hupert,  Grace Wickerson | link

Adapting the Nation to Future Temperatures through Heat Resilient Procurement 

Kurt Shickman | link

Enhanced Household Air Conditioning Access Data For More Targeted Federal Support Against Extreme Heat

Larissa Larsen | link

Shifting Federal Investments To Address Extreme Heat Through Green And Resilient Infrastructure

Bill Updike, Jacob Miller, Rhea Rao, Dan Metzger | Link

Workforce Safety and Development

With no mandated federal heat stress standard, there is no federal mechanism to ensure the adoption of appropriate heat stress prevention strategies and emergency procedures to protect vulnerable workers.

Protecting Workers From Extreme Heat Through An Energy-Efficient Workplace Cooling Transformation

June Spector | link

Adopting Evidence-Based Heat Stress Management Strategies In The Workplace To Enhance Climate Equity

Margaret Morrissey-Basler, Douglas J. Casa | link

Public Health, Medical Preparedness, and Health Security

The undercounting of deaths related to extreme heat and other people-centered disasters — like extreme cold and smoke waves — hinders the political and public drive to address the problem.

Tracking And Preventing The Health Impacts Of Extreme Heat 

Alistair Hayden, Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner, Amie Patchen, Nathaniel Hupert, Vivian Lam | link

Optimizing $4 Billion Of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Funding To Protect The Most Vulnerable Households From Extreme Heat

Justin Schott | link

Enhancing Public Health Preparedness For Climate Change-Related Health Impacts

Kari Nadeau, Nile Nair | link

A Call For Immediate Public Health And Emergency Response Planning For Widespread Grid Failure Under Extreme Heat

Grace Wickerson, Autumn Burton, A. “Skip” Laitner | link

Addressing The National Challenges Of Extreme Heat By Modernizing Preparedness Approaches 

Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg | link

Food Security and Multi-Hazard Resilience

To balance water shortage, federal, state and local governments must invest in recharging aquifers and reservoirs while also reducing losses due to flooding.

U.S. Water Policy For A Warming Planet

Lori Adornato | link

Planning and Response

Extreme heat is an all-of-society problem that requires an all-of-government response.  

Combating Extreme Heat With A National Moonshot

Louis Blumberg | link

A National Framework For Sustainable Urban Forestry To Combat Extreme Heat
Arnab Ghosh | link

Leveraging Federal Post-Disaster Recovery Reform For Extreme Heat Adaptation And Innovation

Johanna Lawton | link

Defining Disaster: Incorporating Heat Waves And Smoke Waves Into Disaster Policy

Alistair Hayden, Sarah Bassett, Grace Wickerson, Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner, Amie Patchen, Nathaniel Hupert | link 

Preparing and Responding to Local Extreme Heat through Effective Local, State, and Federal Action Planning

Vivek Shandas, Grace Wickerson, Autumn Burton | link 

Data and Indices 

A cross-agency extreme-heat monitoring network can support the development of equitable heat mitigation and disaster preparedness efforts in major cities throughout the country.

Improve Extreme Heat Monitoring By Launching Cross-Agency Temperature Network

Bianca Corpuz | link

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf

Federation of American Scientists Among Leading Technology Organizations Pushing Congress to Support Responsible AI Innovation NIST Funding Request

A letter asking congressional appropriators to fully fund the National Institute of Standards and Technology budget request for AI-related work in the upcoming fiscal year signed by more than 80 organizations, companies, and universities.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2024 — Today, leading AI and technology advocacy organizations Americans for Responsible Innovation (ARI), BSA | The Software Alliance, Center for AI Safety (CAIS), Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and Public Knowledge sent a joint letter calling on Congress to prioritize funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) fiscal year 2025 budget request. 

The letter, which was signed by more than 80 industry, civil society, nonprofit, university, trade association, and research laboratory groups, urges investment in NIST’s effort to advance AI research, standards, and testing, including through the agency’s recently established U.S. AI Safety Institute.

“As cutting-edge AI systems rapidly evolve, ensuring NIST has the resources it needs to drive responsible AI innovation is essential to maintain America’s technological leadership and safeguard our future,” the organizations wrote.

The joint advocacy effort, backed by industry, academia, and groups from across the AI policy spectrum, calls for the establishment of an effective AI governance framework through NIST, including technical standards, test methods, and objective evaluation techniques for the emerging technology. In addition to asking congressional leaders to meet the agency’s $48 million request for its Scientific and Technical Research Services account, the groups also expressed concern over cuts in the most recent federal budget, which could jeopardize sustainable and responsible AI development in the U.S.

“NIST cannot fulfill its mission to advance responsible AI innovation without immediate, adequate financial support. To pinch pennies now would be a shortsighted mistake, with both the future of responsible AI and global competitiveness on a key emerging technology hanging in the balance. We at the Federation of American Scientists are proud to co-lead this request because of our longstanding commitment to responsible AI innovation and our critical work identifying needs across AI risk measurement, management, and trustworthy AI,” said Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

“This funding will enable NIST to continue the necessary and important work of developing artificial intelligence to balance risk and reward,” said Clara Langevin, FAS AI Policy Specialist. 

The letter, which was submitted to Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME), and subcommittee leaders Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), as well as House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and subcommittee leaders Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA), can be found here.

In addition to Americans for Responsible Innovation (ARI), BSA | The Software Alliance, Center for AI Safety (CAIS), Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and Public Knowledge, the letter is signed by Accountable Tech, AI Forensics, AI Policy Institute, Alliance for Digital Innovation, Amazon, American Civil Liberties Union, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, BABL AI, Backpack Healthcare, Bentley Systems, Box, Capitol Technology University, Carnegie Mellon University, Center for AI and Digital Policy, Center for AI Policy, Center for Democracy & Technology, Cisco, CivAI, Clarifai, Cohere, Common Crawl Foundation, Credo AI, Docusign, Drexel University, Duke University, Duquesne University — Carl G Grefenstette Center for Ethics, EleutherAI, Encode Justice, FAIR Institute, FAR AI, Fight for the Future, ForHumanity, Free Software Foundation, Future of Life Institute, Future of Privacy Forum, Gesund.ai, GitHub, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Hitachi, Hugging Face, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, IBM, Imbue, Inclusive Abundance Initiative, Information Ethics & Equity Institute, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Institute for AI Policy & Strategy (IAPS), Institute for Progress, Intel, ITIF Center for Data Innovation, Johns Hopkins University, Kyndryl, Leela AI, LF AI & Data Foundation, Lucid Privacy Group, Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mastercard, Microsoft, National Retail Federation, New America’s Open Technology Institute, OpenAI, Palantir, Public Citizen, Responsible AI Institute, Safer AI, Salesforce, SandboxAQ, SAP, SAS Institute, Scale AI, SecureBio, ServiceNow, The Future Society, The Leadership Conference’s Center for Civil Rights and Technology, Transformative Futures Institute, TrueLaw, Trustible, Twilio, UC Berkeley, Center for Human-Compatible AI, University at Buffalo — Center for Embodied Autonomy and Robotics, University of South Carolina — AI Institute, and Workday.

###

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Nuclear Notebook: Russian nuclear forces, 2024

The Federation of American Scientists has released its annual estimate of the size and makeup of Russia’s nuclear forces. The total number of nuclear warheads are now estimated to include 4,380 stockpiled warheads for operational forces, as well as an additional 1,200 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, for a total inventory of 5,580 warheads.

Despite modernization of Russian nuclear forces and warnings about an increase of especially shorter-range non-strategic warheads, we do not yet see such an increase as far as open sources indicate. For now, the number of non-strategic warheads appears to be relatively stable with slight fluctuations. Although our new estimate of this category is lower than last year, that is not because of an actual decrease in the force level but because we have finetuned assumptions about the number of warheads assigned to Russian non-strategic nuclear forces. Our new estimate of roughly 1,558 non-strategic warheads is well within the range of 1,000-2,000 warheads estimated by the U.S. Intelligence Community for the past several years. 

While Russia’s nuclear statements and threatening rhetoric are of great concern, Russia’s  nuclear arsenal and operations have changed little since our 2023 estimates beyond the ongoing modernization. In the future, however, the number of warheads assigned to Russian strategic forces may increase as single-warhead missiles are replaced with missiles equipped with multiple warheads. If the New START treaty is not replaced with a new agreement, both Russia and the United States could potentially increase the number of deployed warheads.

Also in the Nuclear Notebook: Russian nuclear forces, 2024, is our latest analysis on Russian force modernization and strategy:

The FAS Nuclear Notebook, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is widely considered the most accurate public source for information on global nuclear arsenals for all nine nuclear-armed states. 

ABOUT FAS
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.


This research was carried out with generous contributions from the New-Land Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, the Prospect Hill Foundation, Longview Philanthropy, and individual donors.