Month: December 2008

Bulletin magazine goes all-digital in 2009

Bulletin magazine goes all-digital in 2009

Beginning in January 2009, Bulletin subscribers began receiving the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine in its new digital format only. To save on the steeply rising costs of paper and postage, the Bulletin announced in late 2008 that it would no longer produce a print edition of the magazine.

The struggle for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia

The struggle for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia

When Kazakhstan’s Parliament ratified a treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia earlier this month, the effort to ban nuclear weapons from the region took its final step. Throughout the Cold War, Central Asia had been the epicenter of the Soviet nuclear testing program–with the Soviet military conducting 456 nuclear tests in Kazakhstan alone. Appropriately then, the treaty was signed by representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in September 2006 at Semipalatinsk, the main Soviet test site in Kazakhstan.

Restricting the role of biosecurity

Restricting the role of biosecurity

The list of issues that qualify as biosecurity concerns is expanding. Protecting against accidental disease outbreaks; the introduction of genetically modified crop plants, or foreign animal or plant diseases; food defense (formerly known as food safety); and controlling natural outbreaks of disease have all recently fallen under the biosecurity umbrella. This broadening scope has the potential to bring renewed attention to certain public health issues, but it also could tie public health too closely to national security agendas and may threaten the freedom of scientific research.

Formulating the next U.S.-Russian arms control agreement

Formulating the next U.S.-Russian arms control agreement

As the United States waits for a new administration to take office in January, expectations are high that arms control talks with Russia will be revitalized shortly thereafter. Parties in both countries–no matter political persuasion–think Washington and Moscow should move quickly to devise a new disarmament agreement that would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in December 2009.

Making domestically produced medical isotopes a national priority

Making domestically produced medical isotopes a national priority

Despite the clinical importance of medical isotopes, used in an estimated 18 million procedures per year in the United States alone, the world’s supply is increasingly unreliable due to antiquated reactors. At one point in August, all five of the most important medical isotope-producing reactors, all located outside of the United States, were inoperable. The simultaneous shutdowns resulted in supply interruptions, causing a rationing of medical procedures in some areas. Problems are likely to persist for months because one of the largest reactors requires significant repairs.

The Future of Nuclear Energy: Policy recommendations

The Future of Nuclear Energy: Policy recommendations

Global warming necessitates the development of new forms of low-emissions, base-load power generating capacity. To assess the financial, regulatory, and proliferation concerns confronting nuclear energy and to develop strategies for addressing the barriers to the deployment of new reactors, in late September 2008, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists convened nearly 40 scientists, policy makers, industry representatives, and nongovernmental experts from around the world.

Redefining deterrence: Is RRW detrimental to U.S. security calculus?

Redefining deterrence: Is RRW detrimental to U.S. security calculus?

Editor's note: The opinions expressed below are solely those of the author and not his employer.The Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) Program proposes to redesign the nuclear explosive package of U.S. nuclear warheads using advanced computer simulations and the experience gleaned from previous weapons tests. The advertised aim of RRW is to enhance warhead safety and security while improving confidence in the stockpile's long-term reliability–allegedly, without any new nuclear explosive tests.1