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Nuclear Deterrence and Cyber: The Quest for Concept

March 5, 2014 Comments off

Nuclear Deterrence and Cyber: The Quest for Concept
Source: Air & Space Power Journal

Nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century will be tasked with military and policy support missions in a technology environment of digital preeminence. The relationship between nuclear and cyber realms for the purpose of deterrence and other missions requires concept definition and practical demonstration. This study considers the relationship between nuclear and cyber within the context of nuclear arms control, including New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and post–New START options. The future of nuclear-cyber overlap will include challenges to the existing deterrence and nonproliferation regimes from nuclear weapons states in the Middle East and/or South and East Asia, as well as from improving conventional offensive and defensive weapons, including cyber war and antimissile defenses.

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CRS — U.S. Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production Options for Congress

March 4, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production Options for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

“The Department of Defense states that it needs the Department of Energy, which maintains U.S. nuclear weapons, to produce 50-80 ppy [pits per year] by 2030. While some argue that few if any new pits are needed, at least for decades, this report focuses on options to reach 80 ppy.”

New From the GAO

February 20, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Oil and Gas: Interior Has Begun to Address Hiring and Retention Challenges but Needs to Do More. GAO-14-205, January 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-205
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660570.pdf

2. Plutonium Disposition Program: DOE Needs to Analyze the Root Causes of Cost Increases and Develop Better Cost Estimates. GAO-14-231, February 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-231
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660926.pdf

CRS — Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer

February 13, 2014 Comments off

Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with other states, it must conclude a framework agreement that meets specific requirements under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). The AEA also provides for exemptions to these requirements, export control licensing procedures, and criteria for terminating cooperation. Congressional review is required for Section 123 agreements; the AEA establishes special parliamentary procedures by which Congress may act on a proposed agreement.

CRS — Iran Sanctions (updated)

January 31, 2014 Comments off

Iran Sanctions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Strict sanctions on Iran—sanctions that primarily target Iran’s key energy sector and its access to the international financial system—harmed Iran’s economy to the point where Iran’s leaders, on November 24, 2013, accepted an interim agreement the thrust of which is to halt further expansion of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for apparently modest sanctions relief. The June 14, 2013, election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president was an indication of the growing public pressure on the regime to achieve an easing of sanctions.

CRS — North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation

January 31, 2014 Comments off

North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

North Korea has been among the most vexing and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea). Negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have occupied the past three U.S. administrations, even as some analysts anticipated a collapse of the isolated authoritarian regime. North Korea has been the recipient of well over $1 billion in U.S. aid and the target of dozens of U.S. sanctions.

This report provides background information on the negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program that began in the early 1990s under the Clinton Administration. As U.S. policy toward Pyongyang evolved through the George W. Bush and Obama presidencies, the negotiations moved from mostly bilateral to the multilateral Six-Party Talks (made up of China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States). Although the negotiations have reached some key agreements that lay out deals for aid and recognition to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization, major problems with implementation have persisted. With Six- Party Talks suspended since 2009, concern about proliferation to other actors has grown.

Assessment of Nuclear Monitoring and Verification Technologies

January 29, 2014 Comments off

Assessment of Nuclear Monitoring and Verification Technologies (PDF)
Source: Defense Science Board

The Defense Science Board Task Force on Assessment of Nuclear Treaty Monitoring and Verification Technologies was established to examine a broad range of questions concerning the capability of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Intelligence Community (IC) to support future monitoring and verification of nuclear nonproliferation and arms control treaties. The Terms of Reference (TOR) for the study, found in Appendix B, state the tasking. Given the breadth of the topics of interest to our sponsoring leadership and the time and resources available, the Task Force determined to focus on those aspects of the TOR that address what it views as the priority issue––namely, monitoring for proliferation. Assessments of strategies for monitoring nuclear activities in both permissive and non‐permissive environments, and of our current technical capabilities and future requirements for successfully implementing those strategies, were made.

CRS — Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

January 16, 2014 Comments off

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The FY2013 Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310, Section 1037) indicates that it is the sense of Congress that “the United States should pursue negotiations with the Russian Federation aimed at the reduction of Russian deployed and nondeployed nonstrategic nuclear forces.” The United States and Russia have not included limits on these weapons in past arms control agreements. Nevertheless, some analysts and Members of Congress have argued that disparities in the numbers of nonstrategic nuclear weapons may become more important as the United States and Russia reduce their numbers of deployed long-range, strategic nuclear weapons.

During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union both deployed nonstrategic nuclear weapons for use in the field during a conflict. While there are several ways to distinguish between strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons, most analysts consider nonstrategic weapons to be shorter-range delivery systems with lower yield warheads that might be used to attack troops or facilities on the battlefield. They have included nuclear mines; artillery; short-, medium-, and long-range ballistic missiles; cruise missiles; and gravity bombs. In contrast with the longer-range “strategic” nuclear weapons, these weapons had a lower profile in policy debates and arms control negotiations, possibly because they did not pose a direct threat to the continental United States. At the end of the 1980s, each nation still had thousands of these weapons deployed with their troops in the field, aboard naval vessels, and on aircraft.

In 1991, the United States and Soviet Union both withdrew from deployment most and eliminated from their arsenals many of their nonstrategic nuclear weapons. The United States now has approximately 760 nonstrategic nuclear weapons, with around 200 deployed with aircraft in Europe and the remaining stored in the United States. Estimates vary, but experts believe Russia still has between 1,000 and 6,000 warheads for nonstrategic nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The Bush Administration quietly redeployed and removed some of the nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. Russia, however seems to have increased its reliance on nuclear weapons in its national security concept. Some analysts argue that Russia has backed away from its commitments from 1991 and may develop and deploy new types of nonstrategic nuclear weapons.

See also: Next Steps in Nuclear Arms Control with Russia: Issues for Congress (PDF)

CRS — Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities

January 16, 2014 Comments off

Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The physical security of nuclear power plants and their vulnerability to deliberate acts of terrorism was elevated to a national security issue following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Congress subsequently enacted new nuclear plant security requirements and has repeatedly focused attention on regulation and enforcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, security at nuclear plants remains an important concern.

CBO — Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014 to 2023

January 6, 2014 Comments off

Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014 to 2023
Source: Congressional Budget Office

In its most recent review of U.S. nuclear policy, the Administration resolved to maintain all three types of systems that can deliver nuclear weapons over long ranges—submarines that launch ballistic missiles (SSBNs), land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and long-range bombers—known collectively as the strategic nuclear triad. The Administration also resolved to preserve the ability to deploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons carried by fighter aircraft overseas in support of allies. Nearly all of those delivery systems and the nuclear weapons they carry are nearing the end of their planned operational lives and will need to be modernized or replaced by new systems over the next two decades. In addition, the Administration’s review called for more investment to restore and modernize the national laboratories and the complex of supporting facilities that maintain the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. The costs of those modernization activities will add significantly to the overall cost of the nation’s nuclear forces, which also includes the cost of operating and maintaining the current forces.

As directed by the Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112 239), CBO has estimated the costs over the next 10 years of the Administration’s plans for operating, maintaining, and modernizing nuclear weapons and the military systems capable of delivering those weapons. CBO’s estimates should not be used directly to calculate the savings that might be realized if those forces were reduced: Because the nuclear enterprise has large fixed costs for infrastructure and other factors, a partial reduction in the size of any segment of those forces would be likely to result in savings that were proportionally smaller than the relative reduction in force.

CRS — Interim Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program

January 2, 2014 Comments off

Interim Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In the early hours of November 24, 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland, Iran and the six powers that have negotiated with Iran about its nuclear program since 2006 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany—collectively known as the “P5+1”) finalized an interim agreement requiring Iran to freeze many aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for what the Obama Administration calls “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible” relief from international sanctions. The period of the interim deal is to be six months, during which time Iran and the P5+1 will attempt to reach a comprehensive deal on the long-term status of Iran’s nuclear program.

New From the GAO

December 11, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise: NNSA’s Budget Estimates Do Not Fully Align with Plans. GAO-14-45, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-45
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659612.pdf

2. Indian Health Service: Opportunities May Exist to Improve the Contract Health Services Program. GAO-14-57, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-57
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659603.pdf

3. Dodd-Frank Regulations: Agencies Conducted Regulatory Analyses and Coordinated but Could Benefit from Additional Guidance on Major Rules. GAO-14-67, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-67
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659587.pdf

4. Defense Management: Actions Needed to Ensure National Guard and Reserve Headquarters are Sized to Be Efficient. GAO-14-71, November 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-71
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658979.pdf

5. Financial Audit: Office of Financial Stability (Troubled Asset Relief Program) Fiscal Years 2013 and 2012 Financial Statements. GAO-14-172R, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-172R

6. Small Business Lending Fund: Treasury Should Ensure Evaluation Includes Methods to Isolate Program Impact. GAO-14-135, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-135
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659594.pdf

Testimony

1. Reverse Auctions: Guidance is Needed to Maximize Competition and Achieve Cost Savings, by Michele Mackin, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, House Committee on Small Business. GAO-14-200T, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-200T

Extreme Risks – 2013

October 31, 2013 Comments off

Extreme Risks – 2013
Source: Towers Watson
From press release:

Towers Watson’s extreme risks ranking has a new top three: Food/water/energy crisis, Stagnation and Global temperature change – while Sovereign default and Insurance crisis have both fallen five places and Depression loses the top spot for the first time since the research began in 2009. While Food/water/energy crisis (previously Resource scarcity) rose ten places to take the top slot, other extreme risks that have also risen up the ranking this year are Global trade collapse (+4) and Global temperature change (+3). Extreme risks that, in Towers Watson’s view, are less of a threat than in 2011 include Sovereign default, which has fallen five places, as has an Insurance crisis, while a Currency crisis and a Banking crisisfell three and two places respectively.

Towers Watson’s research and ranking, entitled Extreme risks 2013, categorises very rare events that would have a high impact on global economic growth and asset returns if they occurred. The top 15 Extreme risks now for the first time include: Stagnation, Health progress backfire, Nuclear contamination, Extreme longevity and Terrorism, while those that have dropped out of the top 15 this year are: Euro break-up, Hyperinflation, Political crisis, Major war, End of fiat money and Killer pandemic.

CRS — U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues

October 28, 2013 Comments off

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Even though the United States plans to reduce the number of warheads deployed on its longrange missiles and bombers, consistent with the terms of the New START Treaty, it also plans to develop new delivery systems for deployment over the next 20-30 years. The 113th Congress will continue to review these programs during the annual authorization and appropriations process.

During the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear arsenal contained many types of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The longer-range systems, which included long-range missiles based on U.S. territory, long-range missiles based on submarines, and heavy bombers that could threaten Soviet targets from their bases in the United States, are known as strategic nuclear delivery vehicles. At the end of the Cold War, in 1991, the United States deployed more than 10,000 warheads on these delivery vehicles. That number has declined to less than 2,000 warheads today, and is slated to decline to 1,550 warheads by the 2018, after the New START Treaty completes implementation.

At the present time, the U.S. land-based ballistic missile force (ICBMs) consists of 450 Minuteman III ICBMs, each deployed with between one and three warheads; they will all be reduced to only one warhead over the next few years, and the fleet will decline to, at most, 420 missiles. The Air Force is also modernizing the Minuteman missiles, replacing and upgrading their rocket motors, guidance systems, and other components. The Air Force had expected to begin replacing the Minuteman missiles around 2018, but decided, instead, to continue to modernize and maintain the existing missiles, so that they can remain in the force through 2030; it is, once again, considering what to do to sustain the missiles after 2030.

New From the GAO

October 25, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Combating Terrorism: DHS Should Take Action to Better Ensure Resources Abroad Align with Priorities. GAO-13-681, September 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-681
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658133.pdf

2. Nuclear Weapons: Information on Safety Concerns with the Uranium Processing Facility. GAO-14-79R, October 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-79R

3. Federal Facilities: Selected Facilities’ Emergency Plans Generally Reflect Federal Guidance. GAO-14-101, October 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-101
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658555.pdf

New From the GAO

October 17, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Managing Critical Isotopes: Stewardship of Lithium-7 Is Needed to Ensure a Stable Supply. GAO-13-716, September 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-716
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657965.pdf

2. Nuclear Power: Analysis of Regional Differences and Improved Access to Information Could Strengthen NRC Oversight. GAO-13-743, September 27.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-743
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658274.pdf

3. Medicare Information Technology: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Needs to Pursue a Solution for Removing Social Security Numbers from Cards. GAO-13-761, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-761
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657710.pdf

4. Farm Programs: Changes Are Needed to Eligibility Requirements for Being Actively Involved in Farming. GAO-13-781, September 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-781
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658209.pdf

Testimony

1. Haiti Reconstruction: USAID Infrastructure Projects Have Had Mixed Results and Face Sustainability Challenges, by David Gootnick, director, international affairs and trade, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. GAO-14-47T, October 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-47T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658446.pdf

Press Release

1. GAO Executive Wins Service to America Medal, October 17.
http://www.gao.gov/press/service_to_america_award_2013oct17.htm

Disasters, Rebuilding and Leadership – Tough Lessons from Japan and the U.S.

October 9, 2013 Comments off

Disasters, Rebuilding and Leadership – Tough Lessons from Japan and the U.S.
Source: Knowledge@Wharton (U Penn)

On March 11, 2011, deep below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, enormous seismic forces reached a tipping point. At 2:46 p.m., one of the earth’s tectonic plates suddenly shifted, thrusting violently underneath another. The North American plate was pushed upward with such force that the movement generated a massive tsunami. It took the wall of moving water 51 minutes to reach the coast of Japan, some 45 miles away.

In some places, the tsunami towered more than 125 feet above the ground when it hit. Thankfully, the height of the wave was far less where it came ashore near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — “only” 50 feet high. Still, the nuclear disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami has been rated by the International Atomic Energy Agency as equal in severity to the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster on record.

The complex catastrophe — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown — killed close to 20,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands more and contaminated a large swathe of beautiful countryside for decades or longer. More than two years later, Japan is still struggling to recover and prevent even more devastation.

On May 24, 2013, the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) sponsored a panel at the Wharton Global Forum in Tokyo to consider the leadership lessons generated by the Fukushima disaster, and to look at its impact on Japan’s energy policy and the resettlement of afflicted areas.

While the scale of the natural disaster in Japan was beyond the experience of anyone now alive, it was far from unprecedented and should have been anticipated, according to several post-Fukushima reports. Yet those in leadership positions failed to adequately prepare for the catastrophic events of March 2011. Unwilling to face up to the rare but predictable worst-case scenario, government and industry leaders were quickly overwhelmed by events. The judgments they made and the actions they took — or failed to take — often compounded problems. A close look at these mistakes offers valuable lessons for leaders facing disasters in the future.

New From the GAO

September 11, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Environmental Health: EPA Has Made Substantial Progress but Could Improve Processes for Considering Children’s Health. GAO-13-254, August 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-254
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/656921.pdf

2. Modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise: Observations on NNSA’s Options for Meeting Its Plutonium Research Needs. GAO-13-533, September 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-533
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657746.pdf

3. Cargo Tank Trucks: Improved Incident Data and Regulatory Analysis Would Better Inform Decisions about Safety Risks. GAO-13-721, September 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-721
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657756.pdf

Testimonies

1. 2020 Census: Progress Report on the Census Bureau’s Efforts to Contain Enumeration Costs, by Robert Goldenkoff, director, strategic issues, and Carol R. Cha, director, information technology acquisition management, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and the Census, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-857T, September 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-857T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657733.pdf

2. Unemployment Insurance Information Technology: States Face Challenges in Modernization Efforts, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resources issues, before the Subcommittee on Human Resources, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-13-859T, September 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-859T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657736.pdf

3. Delphi Pensions: Key Events Leading to Plan Terminations, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security issues, and A. Nicole Clowers, director, financial markets and community investment issues, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-854T, September 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-854T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657740.pdf

Report on the Workshop on Radionuclides in Wastewater Infrastructure Resulting from Emergency Situations

August 21, 2013 Comments off

Report on the Workshop on Radionuclides in Wastewater Infrastructure Resulting from Emergency Situations
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC), hosted an expert workshop December 3-4, 2012, in Alexandria, Virginia, to engage with subject matter experts and wastewater utility stakeholders on radionuclides in wastewater collection and treatment systems. The key objective of this workshop was to provide EPA NHRSC recommendations and technical information in the area of radionuclides in wastewater infrastructure resulting from emergency situations, as well as related needs and concerns of, and potential solutions for, the wastewater industry.

Study: U.S. Nuclear Reactors Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack

August 15, 2013 Comments off

Study: U.S. Nuclear Reactors Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack (PDF)
Source: Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP), University of Texas

More than 10 years after the 9/11 hijackers considered flying a fully loaded passenger jet into a Manhattan area nuclear reactor, U.S. commercial and research nuclear facilities remain inadequately protected against two credible terrorist threats – the theft of bomb-grade material to make a nuclear weapon, and sabotage attacks intended to cause a reactor meltdown – according to a new report prepared under a contract for the Pentagon by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, and released today.

(T)he report, titled “Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack: Re-assessing the Current ‘Design Basis Threat’ Approach,” finds that none of the 104 commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States is protected against a maximum credible terrorist attack, such as the one perpetrated on September 11, 2001. More than a decade after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, operators of existing nuclear facilities are still not required to defend against the number of terrorist teams or attackers associated with 9/11, nor against airplane attacks, nor even against readily available weapons such as high-power sniper rifles.

+ Full Report (PDF)

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