France’s Choice for Naval Nuclear Propulsion: Why Low-Enriched Uranium Was Chosen

This special report is a result of an FAS task force on French naval nuclear propulsion and explores France’s decision to switch from highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU). By detailing the French Navy’s choice to switch to LEU fuel, author Alain Tournyol du Clos — a lead architect of France’s nuclear propulsion program — explores whether France’s choice is fit for other nations. Read or download now.

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.

Why FAS Adjunct Fellowships Matter

It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I accepted an Adjunct Fellow role here at FAS. To be honest, my time at FAS has far exceeded any of my expectations. So, I wanted to take a brief moment to reflect on the last two years and, in so doing, make the case for others to consider serving in similar roles in the future.

One of the most important benefits of being at FAS has been the opportunity to engage in global policy debates surrounding two specific topics: 1) emerging security; 2) regional security in East Asia. During the last two years, I was invited to join Track 1.5 and Track 2 initiatives on emerging security issues, attend off-the-record expert exchanges on the future of regional security in East Asia, and participate in next generation foreign policy leadership exchanges in Asia, Europe, and North America. I was also given the opportunity to publish numerous articles in the journals of leading think tanks and provide commentary to international media outlets.

Reflecting upon these milestones, I can assure you that these benefits were of great professional value. They not only helped build my own brand as an expert on these issues but they also: 1) Widened and deepened my knowledge about contemporary security issues; 2) Expanded my global network of contacts working on converging and space technologies; 3) Amplified the reach and impact of my insights on these topics.

But, there were also a number of indirect benefits that often get overlooked. So, I wanted to briefly jot down a few for those considering an adjunct fellowship in the future.

By far the most important was the chance to work with Mark Jansson and Charles Ferguson, who have always supported my professional ambitions within and beyond FAS. In fact, both are now involved in a nonprofit that I founded a few years ago to focus on emerging security issues beyond the domain of WMD. As a consequence, I will have the opportunity to continue to work with them for years to come. And, for this, I remain deeply grateful, as they are true champions for science diplomacy.

Another benefit of my affiliation is that it has enabled my consulting agency to expand into new subject matter areas as a direct result of the knowledge and skills gained under my FAS fellowship. There is no doubt that serving as an unpaid adjunct fellow entails certain sunk costs. These are particular burdensome for those in the private sector who find it difficult to justify the time commitment to their management. However, my experience shows that such affiliations can still benefit those in the private sector. By allowing for such affiliations, business leaders not only illustrate the firm’s commitment to corporate citizenship but also provide its employees with new opportunities to expand their knowledge about contemporary security issues. They also ensure that the business sector maintain a vocal presence on policy issues that will inevitably affect their business interest alongside their country’s national security environment.

While the list of indirect benefits is long, I will only mention one more today. And, this is the benefit for career transition. In my case, I was leaving media after working as a foreign policy commentator and foreign correspondent for the last five years. Serving as an adjunct fellow at FAS provided an opportunity to reposition myself within the global ecosystem of experts on my chosen topics. When I started my fellowship, most of my colleagues in the think tank community identified me as a journalist or commentator. However, two years later, many have come to accept me as a member of the global think tank community. This was evident when I was recently introduced as a “policy wonk” in Tokyo. I owe this new socially constructed role in the expert ecosystem solely to my affiliation with FAS.

In closing, I would like to first express my gratitude to FAS for all that my fellowship has provided, including all of friendships and professional relationships that will endure well beyond my two year fellowship. FAS is like a family and you have always made me feel welcome throughout my fellowship. I also would like to thank those who have contributed to FAS and made my fellowship possible. Finally, I would like to challenge others to consider serving as Adjunct Fellows at FAS as well. The organization provides a platform unlike any other for you to make a policy impact on nuclear and nuclear-related security issues.

From my perspective, it is so important for those with expertise on these issues to contribute to the global discourse on nuclear and nuclear-related security policy. This is especially true of scientists and business leaders whose unique perspective on these issues help to inform policymakers of the real costs and benefits of policy decisions under consideration. It is therefore critical that these actors do not abdicate their own agency on these issues. For, if they do, security at all levels of analysis will be weakened by security policy decision-making that fails to take account for the full spectrum of interests impacted by science and technology policies. I therefore urge those who support the great work of FAS to continue doing so and for those who are considering an adjunct fellowship to put their name forward. Your efforts are making a difference in the world we live in today and the world that our children will inherit tomorrow.

Michael Edward Walsh has served as an Adjunct Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists since 2012. In a few weeks, he will be leaving FAS to focus on other professional commitments. He can be followed on Twitter at @aseanreporting.

FAS Roundup: November 19, 2012

New report on Iran,  debate on defense spending, modernization of the B61, and much more.

New Report: “Sanctions, Military Strikes and Other Potential Actions Against Iran: Anticipating Impacts on the Global Economy”

The escalating confrontation between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program has triggered much debate about what actions should be taken to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Yet this debate has focused primarily on the immediate impacts on Iran’s nuclear program and thereby left many questions about broader effects underexplored. For example, how might certain actions against Iran affect the global economy?

FAS released the results of a new study which assesses the global economic impact on a variety of conflict scenarios, sanctions and other alternative actions against Iran at a briefing in Washington, DC on Friday, November 16.

Read the report here.

From the Blogs

The Meaning of Transparency: President Obama’s declared goal of making his “the most transparent Administration in history” generated successive waves of enthusiasm, perplexity, frustration, and mockery as public expectations of increased openness and accountability were lifted sky high and then — often, not always — thwarted. Steven Aftergood writes that every Administration including this one presides over the release of more government information than did its predecessors, if only because more information is created with the passage of time and there is more that can be released.  But President Obama seemed to promise more than this. What was it?

Germany and the B61 Bomb Modernization: In a new post on the Strategic Security Blog, Hans Kristensen discusses his recent trip to Germany where he testified before the Disarmament Subcommittee of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the future of  U.S. B61 nuclear bombs in Europe. One of the B61 bombs currently deployed in Europe is scheduled for an upgrade to extend its life and add new military capabilities and use-control features. The work has hardly begun but the project is already behind schedule and the cost has increased by more than 150 percent in two years, from $4 billion to $10.4 billion. View Mr. Kristensen’s remarks here.

Academy Report on National Grid Withheld for Five Years: Over the objections of its authors, the Department of Homeland Security classified a 2007 report from the National Academy of Sciences on the potential vulnerability of the U.S. electric power system until most of it was finally released on November 14. The report generally concluded, as other reports have, that the electric grid is lacking in resilience and is susceptible to disruption not only from natural disasters but also from deliberate attack.

Eavsdropping Statutes and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as federal laws on cybersecurity, medical marijuana, privacy laws, and veterans affairs.

Up for Debate: U.S. Defense Budget

The word “sequestration” is on everyone’s lips this election season, at least those connected with the defense apparatus. Sequestration raises larger issues regarding the appropriate amount to spend on defense. Two issues stand in the foreground: America’s growing debt and a multipolar world of evolving threats. Currently, President Barack Obama plans to reduce discretionary funding by 1 percent with $525.4 billion for FY 2013. Is this too much? Is this not enough?

In a new edition of the FAS online debate series “Up for Debate,” Ms. Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Project on Defense Alternatives, and Mr. Christopher Preble of the CATO Institute debate  whether the U.S. should increase or decrease its spending for defense.

Read the debate here.

Publication

Modernizing NATO’s Nuclear Forces- Implications for the Alliance’s Defense Posture and Arms Control: In a new paper published by the ACA/BASIC/IFSH project on “Working Towards a Reduced Role of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in European Security,” Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, writes that the modernization of NATO’s nuclear posture contradicts key elements of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review.

In the News

Nov 16: CNN – Security Clearance Blog“Putting a Price on War With Iran”

Nov 15: The Daily Caller“Obama Signed Secret Cyber Directive in October”

Nov 14: New York Times – At War Blog, “Possible Score for Syrian Rebels: Pictures Show Advanced Missile Systems”

Nov 14: The Guardian – Middle East Live“Surface-to-Air Missiles”

Nov 14: RIA Novosti, “5 Questions About the CIA Sex Scandal”

Nov 13: Popular Mechanics“What China’s Nuclear Missile Subs Mean for the U.S.”

Nov 13: Foreign Policy, “Red Balloon – Is Congress Inflating the China Threat?”

FAS Roundup: October 1, 2012

U.S.-NZ relations, new DNI directives, declassification at Department of Energy and much more.

From the Blogs

  • In 1962, Kennedy was Urged to Take “Drastic Action” Against Leakers: Fifty years ago, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) urged President John F. Kennedy to take “drastic action” against whoever had leaked classified intelligence information to a New York Times reporter.  The Board also suggested that the CIA be empowered domestically to track down such leaks. The PFIAB recommendations to President Kennedy were memorialized in an August 1, 1962 report that established a template for future efforts to combat leaks, up to the present day.
  • Declassification Proceeds Methodically at Energy Department: The capacity of gas centrifuges to enrich uranium increased by two orders of magnitude between 1961 and 1967, from 0.39 kg-SWU/year to 30 kg-SWU/year. That striking fact was declassified by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2008 and made public this month. Under the terms of the Atomic Energy Act (section 142), which governs the classification of nuclear weapons-related information, the Department of Energy is required to conduct a “continuous review” of its classified information “in order to determine which information may be declassified.”  And so it does. Slowly and methodically, the Department has declassified numerous categories of nuclear information over the last several years.
  • In Warming U.S.- NZ Relations, Outdated Nuclear Policy Remains Unnecessary Irritant: Last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited New Zealand to ease restrictions on New Zealand naval visits to U.S. military bases. In a new blog post, Hans Kristensen writes that this move shows that Washington, after nearly 30 years of punishing the small South Pacific nation for its ban against nuclear weapons, may finally have come to its senses and decided to end the vendetta in the interest of more important issues.

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FAS Roundup: May 14, 2012

Cost of B61 bomb escalating, radioactive smuggling, cyber threats and much more.

From the Blogs

  • USAF Drones May Conduct  “Incidental” Domestic Surveillance: U.S. Air Force policy permits the incidental collection of domestic imagery by unmanned aerial systems (drones), but ordinarily would not allow targeted surveillance of a U.S. person.  The Air Force policy was restated in a newly reissued instruction on oversight of Air Force intelligence. Legally valid requirements for domestic imagery include surveillance of natural disasters, environmental studies, system testing and training, and also counterintelligence and security-related vulnerability assessments. Air Force units are authorized to acquire domestic commercial imagery for such validated purposes.
  • B61 Nuclear Bomb Costs Escalating: The expected cost of the B61 Life-Extension Program (LEP) has increased by 50 percent to $6 billion dollars, according to U.S. government sources. The escalating cost of the program – and concern that NNSA does not have an effective plan for managing it – has caused Congress to cap spending on the B61 LEP by 60 percent in 2012 and 100 percent in 2013.
  • What is a Cyber Threat?: In order to establish a common vocabulary for discussing cyber threats, and thereby to enable an appropriate response, authors of a new report released by Sandia National Laboratories propose a variety of attributes that can be used to characterize cyber threats in a standardized and consistent way.

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FAS Roundup: May 7, 2012

New report on non-strategic nuclear weapons, missing classified document, U.S. nuclear forces and much more.

New Report on Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

  • Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: A new FAS Special Report written by Hans M. Kristensen comes three weeks before 28 NATO member countries convene in Chicago on May 20-21 to approve the conclusions of a year-long Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR). Among other issues, the review will determine the number and role of the U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and how NATO might work to reduce its nuclear posture.

 

From the Blogs

  • Counterintelligence Surveillance Under FISA Grew in 2011: In a new report to Congress from the Department of Justice, in 2011 the U.S. Government submitted 1,745 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authorization to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The report states that of that number, there were 1,676 requests for authority to perform electronic surveillance. In 2010, there were 1,579 such applications (including 1,511 for electronic surveillance).
  • Classified Records Said to be Missing from National Archives: A three-year investigation by the Inspector General found that more than a thousand boxes of classified government records are believed to be missing from the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). But there are no indications of theft or espionage, an official said.
  • Admin Presses for Renewal of FISA Surveillance Authority: The Obama Administration is urging Congress to renew provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act that are set to expire at the end of this year. One of the key provisions of the act would permit the electronic surveillance of entire categories of non-U.S. persons who are located abroad “without the need for a court order for each individual target.”

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FAS Roundup: April 30, 2012

Investigation into leak prosecutions, nuclear forensics, new CRS reports and much more.

 

From the Blogs

  • Senate Review of CIA Interrogation Program “Nearing Completion”: The Senate Intelligence Committee has been reviewing the post-9/11 detention and interrogation practices of the Central Intelligence Agency for four years and is still not finished.  But the end appears to be in sight. Committee staff are said to have reviewed millions of pages of classified documents pertaining to the CIA program.
  • Govt Appeals Court-Ordered Release of Classified Document: On April 29,  government attorneys said that they would appeal an extraordinary judicial ruling that required the release of a classified document in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The document in question is a one-page position paper produced by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) concerning the U.S. negotiating position in free trade negotiations.  It was classified Confidential and was not supposed to be disclosed before 2013.
  • Nuclear Forensics: A terrorist attack using an improvised nuclear device would be hugely destructive. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons had a ‘return address’ since the U.S. could trace the trajectory back to the point of origin. Dr. Y investigates the background of nuclear forensics in a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog.
  • Patent Office Weighs Patent Secrecy for “Economic Security”: Steven Aftergood writes that in response to congressional direction, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is considering whether to expand the scope of patent secrecy orders — which prohibit the publication of affected patent applications — in order to enhance “economic security” and to protect newly developed inventions against exploitation by foreign competitors. Currently, patent secrecy orders are applied only to patent applications whose disclosure could be “detrimental to national security” as prescribed by the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951.

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FAS Roundup- February 27, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 27, 2012


Status of China’s nuclear forces, strides in DoD classification reform, photos and video from FAS Awards Ceremony and much more.

 

From the Blogs

  • Pentagon Defends Record on Secrecy Reform: The Department of Defense has done a better job of complying with changes in national security classification policy than it has gotten credit for, Pentagon officials told a Senate Committee.  The number of classification guides that are up to date has increased from 30% to over 70%, the officials said, and a new four-volume information security guide that has been under development since 2009 is in final coordination.
  • Media Orgs File Amicus Brief in Sterling Leak Case: Dozens of major news media organizations joined together to defend the notion of a reporter’s privilege to protect the identity of a confidential against compulsory disclosure. The brief is an emphatic chorus of support for James Risen (the New York Times reporter who has been subpoenaed to testify in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, the former CIA officer who is accused of leaking classified information to Mr. Risen), and it offers a clear statement that the public interest in free press is at stake in this case. One thing it does not do, however, is simplify the matter for the appeals court or help to devise some kind of resolution of the conflict between the parties.
  • Chinese Nuclear Modernization-Smaller and Later: Last week, Congress received its annual threat assessment from the U.S. intelligence community. Hans Kristensen writes that China’s nuclear arsenal is at a size that makes comparison with U.S. nuclear force level meaningless – even at the lowest level feared by the critics. The threat assessment showed that China’s nuclear force modernization has been slower than predicted during the Bush administration.
  • DoD Reports “Impressive Strides” in Updating Classification: Steven Aftergood writes that the Department of Defense says it has cancelled more than 300 of its 1800 classification guides as a result of the ongoing Fundamental Classification Guidance Review (mandated by President Obama’s 2009 executive order to identify and eliminate inappropriate classification requirements).  The defunct guides can no longer be used to authorize the classification of national security information.

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FAS Roundup- October 31, 2011

Goodbye to the B53, mystery behind the 1969 nuclear alert, new START data, advice for Washington regarding Iran and much more.

 

From the Blogs

  • New CRS reports, including casualty figures from the war in Afghanistan and more.
  • Mystery of the 1969 Nuclear Alert: In October 1969, the Nixon Administration secretly placed U.S. nuclear forces on alert for two weeks. Still today, no conclusive explanation for the potentially destabilizing alert can be found.  Even with full access to the classified record, State Department historians said in a new volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series that they were unable to provide a definitive account of the event.

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