Month: April 2008

Kazakhstan’s nuclear ambitions

Kazakhstan’s nuclear ambitions

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the international community anxiously watched to see what newly independent Kazakhstan would do with the thousands of nuclear weapons left on its territory. If Kazakhstan had decided to prevent their withdrawal, it would have become the fourth largest nuclear power in the world. Thankfully, the country decided to disarm–a choice it reached due to a combination of international pressure, a desire to integrate into the international community, and assured Western assistance with dismantling its nuclear weapons and facilities.

Republicans, missile defense, and the Reagan legacy

Republicans, missile defense, and the Reagan legacy

When developing a weapons program for the Defense Department, there is normally an orderly and somewhat rational process to be followed: First, a threat is identified; research is then conducted on how best to deal with said threat; and finally, a weapon system is developed and eventually produced.
If at any time in this process the threat changes or the research demonstrates that no available technology exists to deal with the threat, or a weapon system cannot be developed in a cost-effective manner, the research is stopped, slowed down, or canceled.

Press briefing on missile defense

Press briefing on missile defense

A new analysis by George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol in the May/June 2008 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reveals that the configuration of the proposed U.S. missile defense system in Europe will not adequately protect the continental United States or Europe against the postulated threat–an Iranian ballistic missile equipped with a nuclear warhead.

Getting scientists involved in arms control

Getting scientists involved in arms control

Earlier this month Macedonian Amb. Georgi Avramchev addressed the “Second International Forum on Biosecurity” in Budapest and stressed the importance of including scientists and scientific organizations in the proceedings of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). Delegations at BWC meetings have always included scientific experts, but Avramchev confirmed what many in attendance knew to be true, that scientists had not always been given the time or opportunity to contribute their expertise adequately.

Pavel Podvig receives Szilard Award

Pavel Podvig receives Szilard Award

Bulletin online columnist Pavel Podvig, member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board and research associate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, received the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award from the American Physical Society at its April meeting in St. Louis.

Improving infectious disease surveillance

Improving infectious disease surveillance

The advance of human civilization has brought people, plants, animals, and microbes together in otherwise improbable combinations and locations. Today, international travel and commerce (most notably the explosive growth of commercial air transportation during the past 50 years) drives the rapid, global distribution of microbial pathogens, and the organisms that harbor them. These include humans, whose migrations have been implicated in the spread of diseases including SARS, drug-resistant malaria, and chikungunya (a vector-borne viral disease) in Europe.

An interview with Hugh Gusterson

An interview with Hugh Gusterson

Describe life at Livermore.

I first moved to Livermore, a town of about 55,000, in the late 1980s to begin an anthropological study of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and its surroundings. Although San Francisco was an hour away, at that time, Livermore could best be described as a cultural backwater. Ethnic food was hard to find. The movie theater specialized in second runs. A small independent bookstore was struggling to survive and has since succumbed. The biggest event of the year was the Livermore rodeo.

An Interview with Malcolm Dando

An Interview with Malcolm Dando

Which developments in the life sciences pose the greatest threat to humans?

I support the benignly intended civil biotechnology that’s producing a revolution in our understanding of life and opening up positive possibilities such as cures for mental illnesses. I don’t see these developments as a threat. The threat comes from the malign misuse of the knowledge, materials, and technologies produced in the ongoing revolution, which could result in dangerous biological warfare and biological terrorism.

An Interview with Pavel Podvig

An Interview with Pavel Podvig

How have U.S.-Russian relations changed in the post-Cold War era?

Not as much as they should have changed. The Cold War confrontation had ideological and historic roots that are irrelevant today for either Russia or the United States. Unfortunately, however, the inertia of the Cold War has proved difficult to overcome, and the notion that nuclear weapons somehow contribute to national security persists.