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FAS Roundup: September 2, 2014

Worldwide Deployment of Nuclear Weapons Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, and Robert Norris, Senior Fellow for Nuclear Policy, estimate that there are approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons located at  98 sites in 14 countries. Roughly 10,000 of these weapons are in military arsenals; the remaining weapons are retired and awaiting dismantlement. Approximately 4,000 are operationally available, and 1,800 are on high alert and ready for use on short notice. In the latest Nuclear Notebook published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Kristensen and Norris examine the storage sites of deployed weapons in the nine nuclear countries. Read the article here. 

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Nonsense about New START and ICBMs

Because of what appears to have been a computer glitch, a group of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) was temporarily off-line last week and not ready to launch on a moment’s notice. According to an article in The Atlantic, some Republicans have suggested that this means that New START, the nuclear arms control treaty awaiting Senate ratification, is unwise and should be rejected. This assertion is nonsense but is a useful illustration of how much of current nuclear “thinking” is just a holdover from now irrelevant Cold War doctrine.

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Thinking Outside Fukushima

Nearly two and a half years after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station—the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) finally admitted that it needed outside help to control the numerous problems at its stricken plant.

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FAS Roundup: May 26, 2015

From the Blogs Average U.S. Troop Cost Nearly Doubled Since 1980: The average cost to the U.S. defense budget per individual troop member has increased sharply over the past few…

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FAS Roundup: March 8, 2016

FAS Board Member Martin Hellman Co-Wins Turing Award On Tuesday, March 1, the Association for Computing Machinery announced that Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie have won this year’s Turing…

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Naval Reactors and HEU

FAS President Charles D. Ferguson gave a presentation on August 5th at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on the use of highly enriched uranium (a weapons-usable fissile material) in naval…

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Changing the Nuclear Posture: moving smartly without leaping

Release of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is delayed once again.  Originally due late last year, in part so it could inform the on-going negotiations on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Follow-on (START-FO), after a couple of delays it was supposed to be released today, 1 March, but last week word got out that it will be coming out yet another 2-4 weeks later.  Some reports are that the delay reflects deep divisions within the administration over the direction of the NPR.  That means that there is really only one person left whose opinion matters and that is the president. We can only hope that President Obama makes clear that he meant what he said in Prague and elsewhere.  This NPR is crucial.  If it is incremental, if it relegates a world free of nuclear weapons to an inspiring aspiration, then we are stuck with our current nuclear standoff for another generation.  This is the time to decisively shift direction.  But we should not be paralyzed by thinking that the only movement available is a giant leap into the unknown.  We need to move decisively in the right direction, sure, but we can do that in steps.

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Lessons Unlearned

Syria is the first WMD-armed country to descend into civil war. How the United States and the world handles Syria will unmistakably affect future dealings in similar situations in which hostile countries possess WMDs. To get the WMD assessment in Syria right, U.S. and world leaders will have to break free of the past habits of obfuscation, unsound scientific forensics, and withholding of conflicting data.

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FAS Roundup: May 18, 2015

From the Blogs House Renews Ban on CRS Publication of Its Reports: The Congressional Research Service (CRS) will continue to be barred from releasing its reports to the public, the House Appropriations Committee said in its report on legislative branch appropriations for the coming year. Because Congress prohibits CRS from publishing its own reports, most CRS reports are only available to the public from non-governmental organizations that take the initiative to gather and publish them. Many of the reports can be found in a collection that is maintained and regularly updated by FAS. Secrecy News recently obtained copies of new reports on topics such as Iran's foreign policy, the future of Internet governance and U.S.-Mexican security cooperation.  Pentagon Report: China Deploys MIRV Missile: The Pentagon's latest annual report on Chinese military power claims that China's ICBM force now includes the "multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-equipped Mod 3 (DF-5).” Hans Kristensen writes that for China to join the MIRV club strains China’s claim of having a minimum nuclear deterrent and is another worrisome sign that China – like the other nuclear-armed states – are trapped in a dynamic technological nuclear arms competition.

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