DIGITAL MAGAZINE

July 2020

DIGITAL MAGAZINE

July 2020

Cover design by Thomas Gaulkin

hiroshima atomic bombing anniversary 1946

Why the atomic bombing of Hiroshima would be illegal today

The desire to avoid the US military casualties expected in the planned invasion of Japan, combined with a desire for vengeance against Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese, overwhelmed legal concerns and moral qualms about killing civilians on a massive scale in the attack on Hiroshima. Such a nuclear attack would be illegal today. It would violate three major requirements of the law of armed conflict.
hiroshima atomic bombing anniversary 1946

Why the atomic bombing of Hiroshima would be illegal today

The desire to avoid the US military casualties expected in the planned invasion of Japan, combined with a desire for vengeance against Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese, overwhelmed legal concerns and moral qualms about killing civilians on a massive scale in the attack on Hiroshima. Such a nuclear attack would be illegal today. It would violate three major requirements of the law of armed conflict.

Nuclear Notebook: Indian nuclear forces, 2020

We estimate that India currently operates eight nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and two sea-based ballistic missiles. At least three more systems are in development, of which several are nearing completion and will soon be combat-ready. Beijing is now in range of Indian ballistic missiles.

China is speeding up its plutonium recycling programs

The China National Nuclear Corporation is pushing toward the third stage of a plutonium-recycling program by negotiating with France’s nuclear fuel cycle company Orano (formerly Areva) over the purchase of a large commercial reprocessing plant and has proposed construction of large commercial fast-neutron reactors by 2028.

A pandemic of bad science

Compared to public health crises of the recent past, there has been a distinct change in how science is communicated to the public. Experts no longer control the narrative through trusted outlets, and, accurate or not, social media allows anyone to craft their own narrative about science and publish it to an audience of millions.
A small Chinese flag placed in front of an empty chair.

“What about China?” and the threat to US–Russian nuclear arms control

Sinophobia triggered by China’s economic and military growth—as well as allegations surrounding Beijing’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic—threatens to upend decades of consensus on bilateral nuclear arms control. This could continue beyond the Trump presidency and spur arms races that ultimately undermine US national security and global stability. If this scenario occurs, it will be imperative for future leaders to consider new approaches to nuclear risk reduction.

Preventing the preventable: Strengthening international controls to thwart radiological terrorism

Global efforts to keep radioactive materials secure are based on an IAEA code of conduct that countries are under no obligation to follow or implement. The time has come to make this code of conduct a legally binding agreement that would promote national accountability and help prevent radiological terrorism.

Twenty-first century perspectives on the far-from-toothless Biological Weapons Convention

In 1960 Matthew Meselson, a newly-minted assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University, spent the summer at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Washington, DC, a US government funded independent organization that worked on non-proliferation issues (Klotz and Sylvester 2009). Paul Doty, a long-time advisor to the government on nuclear-weapons disarmament … Continued
President Donald Trump at a press conference.

Assessing the US government response to the coronavirus

Understanding the shortfalls in the federal role to date will be essential in responding to and recovering from COVID-19, mitigating its effects and better preparing for future events. To examine these shortfalls, going back to the beginning can be informative.   

Follow the money: What the sources of Jiankui He’s funding reveal about what Beijing authorities knew about illegal CRISPR babies, and when they knew it

When news broke in November 2018 that the first gene-edited human babies had been born in an experiment conducted by Jiankiu He, an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUStech) in Shenzhen, the initial reaction from Chinese authorities was  positive. Indeed, the People’s Daily—official newspaper of China’s Communist Party—used the words “milestone … Continued

Nuclear Notebook: Indian nuclear forces, 2020

We estimate that India currently operates eight nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and two sea-based ballistic missiles. At least three more systems are in development, of which several are nearing completion and will soon be combat-ready. Beijing is now in range of Indian ballistic missiles.

China is speeding up its plutonium recycling programs

The China National Nuclear Corporation is pushing toward the third stage of a plutonium-recycling program by negotiating with France’s nuclear fuel cycle company Orano (formerly Areva) over the purchase of a large commercial reprocessing plant and has proposed construction of large commercial fast-neutron reactors by 2028.

A pandemic of bad science

Compared to public health crises of the recent past, there has been a distinct change in how science is communicated to the public. Experts no longer control the narrative through trusted outlets, and, accurate or not, social media allows anyone to craft their own narrative about science and publish it to an audience of millions.
A small Chinese flag placed in front of an empty chair.

“What about China?” and the threat to US–Russian nuclear arms control

Sinophobia triggered by China’s economic and military growth—as well as allegations surrounding Beijing’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic—threatens to upend decades of consensus on bilateral nuclear arms control. This could continue beyond the Trump presidency and spur arms races that ultimately undermine US national security and global stability. If this scenario occurs, it will be imperative for future leaders to consider new approaches to nuclear risk reduction.

Preventing the preventable: Strengthening international controls to thwart radiological terrorism

Global efforts to keep radioactive materials secure are based on an IAEA code of conduct that countries are under no obligation to follow or implement. The time has come to make this code of conduct a legally binding agreement that would promote national accountability and help prevent radiological terrorism.

Twenty-first century perspectives on the far-from-toothless Biological Weapons Convention

In 1960 Matthew Meselson, a newly-minted assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University, spent the summer at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Washington, DC, a US government funded independent organization that worked on non-proliferation issues (Klotz and Sylvester 2009). Paul Doty, a long-time advisor to the government on nuclear-weapons disarmament … Continued
President Donald Trump at a press conference.

Assessing the US government response to the coronavirus

Understanding the shortfalls in the federal role to date will be essential in responding to and recovering from COVID-19, mitigating its effects and better preparing for future events. To examine these shortfalls, going back to the beginning can be informative.   

Follow the money: What the sources of Jiankui He’s funding reveal about what Beijing authorities knew about illegal CRISPR babies, and when they knew it

When news broke in November 2018 that the first gene-edited human babies had been born in an experiment conducted by Jiankiu He, an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUStech) in Shenzhen, the initial reaction from Chinese authorities was  positive. Indeed, the People’s Daily—official newspaper of China’s Communist Party—used the words “milestone … Continued

Cover design by Thomas Gaulkin

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Albert Einstein in Washington, D.C., between 1921 and 1923. Harris & Ewing, photographers. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016885961/

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