Month: June 2008

COPUOS wades into the next great space debate

COPUOS wades into the next great space debate

It is a well-worn cliché that the gears of international diplomacy grind at a glacial pace. Breakthroughs often are preceded by years of background work during which progress barely crawls forward. So, it is not surprising that this year’s annual session of the Vienna-based U.N. Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) ended on June 20 without any decisions on the key question now bedeviling the global space community: How to ensure the long-term security of space operations in a more crowded, and more militarized, environment?

Deciphering NNSA’s Complex Transformation

Deciphering NNSA’s Complex Transformation

To draw attention to Complex Transformation, its “vision for a smaller, safer, more secure, and less expensive nuclear weapons complex,” in January, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that it had begun removing Category I and II special nuclear materials (SNM) from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to the Savannah River Site–a task that the NNSA anticipates completing by the end of 2012 and would

The security impact of the neurosciences

The security impact of the neurosciences

In light of increased research into human brain function and cognition, some important questions have arisen: What are the implications of security-related applications of this research? What impact will this research and its applied technologies have globally? What international regimes could regulate the dual use or potential misuse of these technologies? Or will international regimes develop as a result?

The U.S. military’s quest to weaponize culture

The U.S. military’s quest to weaponize culture

The Pentagon seems to have decided that anthropology is to the war on terror what physics was to the Cold War. As an anthropologist, this makes me very nervous.
Where former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believed that the United States would vanquish its enemies through technological superiority, his replacement Robert Gates has said that cultural expertise in counterinsurgency operations will be crucial in the future wars he anticipates.

The U.S. Air Force’s indifference toward nuclear weapons

The U.S. Air Force’s indifference toward nuclear weapons

From its creation as a separate service at the end of World War II until the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Air Force was first among equals amid the nation’s three military departments and four armed services–whether measured by budget share or in public appeal. During the 1950s, for example, the air force received about one-half of the entire defense budget, leaving the other three services to argue over the remaining 50 percent and fumbling to co-opt some part of the air force’s mission.

How evil can prevail in state-sanctioned biowarfare research

How evil can prevail in state-sanctioned biowarfare research

Some people consider physician Wouter Basson South Africa’s Josef Mengele. During the 1998 Truth and Reconciliation hearings on Project Coast, South Africa’s apartheid-era chemical and biowarfare programs, Schalk Janse van Rensburg, a veterinarian, stated that Basson, the program’s head, wanted to devise a way to kill individuals that would appear undetectable to a forensics laboratory.

U.S.-Russian nuclear agreement raises serious concerns

U.S.-Russian nuclear agreement raises serious concerns

On May 13, President George W. Bush submitted to Congress an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Russian Federation. The “123 agreement”–named after a provision of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act–would establish a 30-year framework for nuclear commerce between the former Cold War enemies, allowing the transfer of nuclear commodities such as reactor components and U.S. government-owned technologies and materials to Russia.

U.S.-Russian nuclear agreement raises serious concerns

U.S.-Russian nuclear agreement raises serious concerns

On May 13, President George W. Bush submitted to Congress an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Russian Federation. The "123 agreement"–named after a provision of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act–would establish a 30-year framework for nuclear commerce between the former Cold War enemies, allowing the transfer of nuclear commodities such as reactor components and U.S. government-owned technologies and materials to Russia.

Public safety and transporting ethanol

Public safety and transporting ethanol

Every day, tens of millions of gallons of grain alcohol moves from biorefineries located in rural Midwestern communities to major population centers on both coasts–in tanker trucks on congested highways, train cars passing through town centers, and river barges docked in busy ports. And the amount of ethanol transported throughout the country will only continue to increase as interest in fossil-fuel alternatives grows.

Raising life scientists’ awareness

Raising life scientists’ awareness

In April 1980, the Bulletin published an article by former intelligence analyst Henry T. Nash titled “The Bureaucratization of Homicide.” (The article was subsequently reprinted in E. P. Thompson’s Protest and Survive.) In the article, Nash reflected on his experiences as a nuclear targeting planner in the U.S.

The end of Japan’s nuclear taboo

The end of Japan’s nuclear taboo

Ever since the August 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese people have possessed a strong aversion to the idea of nuclear weapons. Public discussion of developing nuclear weapons has been practically nonexistent, and politicians have been chastised for mentioning the topic: As recently as 1999, Japan’s vice defense minister resigned after receiving overwhelming criticism for suggesting that Japan should arm itself with nuclear weapons.

The push for a new arms control agreement with Russia is ill-conceived

The push for a new arms control agreement with Russia is ill-conceived

Skepticism about arms control agreements has been a prominent Bush administration position. As such, its arms control achievements are few and far between. But in its waning days, the administration has finally agreed with the long-standing Russian position that any new arms control agreement should be “legally binding.” John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, also recently announced in a major speech on nuclear issues that he would seek a new arms control agreement with Russia.