Month: February 2012

Strategic revelation

Strategic revelation

One of the time-honored traditions for influencing debates in Washington, DC, is to leak confidential information to the press. The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Valerie Plame, Wikileaks, are just a few examples of use of the tactic. By exposing classified or private information, a strategic leaker can then rise in high dudgeon to head off the “appalling” policy being considered, or divulge actions that those in the government were not yet ready to publicize.

Toward a better Nuclear Security Summit

Toward a better Nuclear Security Summit

The Nuclear Security Summit taking place in Seoul next month is expected to reinforce the commitment of the international community to confronting the threat of nuclear terrorism. The summit process provides a unique opportunity to ensure that nuclear security receives the high-level attention it deserves from governments around the world. It also entrusts the participants with a special responsibility not to let this opportunity pass by.

Zone defense

Zone defense

With political upheavals in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, this might seem like a bad time to begin talks on a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. And, in fact, some claim that meaningful progress on a treaty cannot be made until order is restored — under publicly accountable authorities with clear control of military forces and weapons. Others suggest, however, that undertaking multilateral negotiations now would calm fears, provide transparency about nuclear weapons, and encourage a regional peace process that would contribute to stability. So, which should it be?

Why Latin America matters at the Nuclear Security Summit

Why Latin America matters at the Nuclear Security Summit

It is a fact that nuclear terrorism is a global threat and has become a worldwide concern. But what is particularly frightening is that there is no clearly defined plan for securing all nuclear materials. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s (NTI) Nuclear Material Security Index, there is no global consensus about what steps matter most in achieving nuclear security.

Projecting power: The security implications of space-based solar power

Projecting power: The security implications of space-based solar power

Increasing oil prices and environmental conscientiousness have generated a commensurate spike in interest in renewable energy sources. Most technologies, however, are ill-suited to providing large-scale, base-load power. Solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power all rely on specific environmental or geographic conditions that are intermittent or uncommon in nature. Furthermore, the places where these conditions do occur are often far from the population centers where power is needed most.

Social acceptance and the Blue Ribbon Commission: A positive experience in national nuclear waste discussions

Social acceptance and the Blue Ribbon Commission: A positive experience in national nuclear waste discussions

Last month, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) released its final report, a culmination of two years’ work on the difficult issue of how best to manage the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle in the United States. We both participated in this process, as a commissioner and as staff director, and find it worthwhile to reflect on how the commission’s process — that is to say, involving the community — shaped our recommendations.

The science fiction effect

The science fiction effect

It’s alive! Neurophysiology. Huddled around a warm fireplace one cold summer’s night in 1816, a small group of friends decided to hold a competition to see who could write the scariest horror story. While vacationing in a villa by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, the friends spent their time reading ghost stories and discussing the exciting experiment being performed by the scientists of the day: reanimating dead matter.

New START: One year later

New START: One year later

February 5 marks the one-year anniversary of the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty’s (New START) entry into force. Signed by the United States and Russia in April 2010, New START caps each country’s nuclear arsenal at 1,550 deployed strategic warheads, 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles (long-range missiles and bombers), and 800 deployed and non-deployed strategic launchers (long-range missile tubes on submarines, missile silos, and bombers).