FAS Roundup: November 19, 2012

New report on Iran,  debate on defense spending, modernization of the B61, and much more.

New Report: “Sanctions, Military Strikes and Other Potential Actions Against Iran: Anticipating Impacts on the Global Economy”

The escalating confrontation between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program has triggered much debate about what actions should be taken to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Yet this debate has focused primarily on the immediate impacts on Iran’s nuclear program and thereby left many questions about broader effects underexplored. For example, how might certain actions against Iran affect the global economy?

FAS released the results of a new study which assesses the global economic impact on a variety of conflict scenarios, sanctions and other alternative actions against Iran at a briefing in Washington, DC on Friday, November 16.

Read the report here.

From the Blogs

The Meaning of Transparency: President Obama’s declared goal of making his “the most transparent Administration in history” generated successive waves of enthusiasm, perplexity, frustration, and mockery as public expectations of increased openness and accountability were lifted sky high and then — often, not always — thwarted. Steven Aftergood writes that every Administration including this one presides over the release of more government information than did its predecessors, if only because more information is created with the passage of time and there is more that can be released.  But President Obama seemed to promise more than this. What was it?

Germany and the B61 Bomb Modernization: In a new post on the Strategic Security Blog, Hans Kristensen discusses his recent trip to Germany where he testified before the Disarmament Subcommittee of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the future of  U.S. B61 nuclear bombs in Europe. One of the B61 bombs currently deployed in Europe is scheduled for an upgrade to extend its life and add new military capabilities and use-control features. The work has hardly begun but the project is already behind schedule and the cost has increased by more than 150 percent in two years, from $4 billion to $10.4 billion. View Mr. Kristensen’s remarks here.

Academy Report on National Grid Withheld for Five Years: Over the objections of its authors, the Department of Homeland Security classified a 2007 report from the National Academy of Sciences on the potential vulnerability of the U.S. electric power system until most of it was finally released on November 14. The report generally concluded, as other reports have, that the electric grid is lacking in resilience and is susceptible to disruption not only from natural disasters but also from deliberate attack.

Eavsdropping Statutes and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as federal laws on cybersecurity, medical marijuana, privacy laws, and veterans affairs.

Up for Debate: U.S. Defense Budget

The word “sequestration” is on everyone’s lips this election season, at least those connected with the defense apparatus. Sequestration raises larger issues regarding the appropriate amount to spend on defense. Two issues stand in the foreground: America’s growing debt and a multipolar world of evolving threats. Currently, President Barack Obama plans to reduce discretionary funding by 1 percent with $525.4 billion for FY 2013. Is this too much? Is this not enough?

In a new edition of the FAS online debate series “Up for Debate,” Ms. Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Project on Defense Alternatives, and Mr. Christopher Preble of the CATO Institute debate  whether the U.S. should increase or decrease its spending for defense.

Read the debate here.

Publication

Modernizing NATO’s Nuclear Forces- Implications for the Alliance’s Defense Posture and Arms Control: In a new paper published by the ACA/BASIC/IFSH project on “Working Towards a Reduced Role of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in European Security,” Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, writes that the modernization of NATO’s nuclear posture contradicts key elements of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review.

In the News

Nov 16: CNN – Security Clearance Blog“Putting a Price on War With Iran”

Nov 15: The Daily Caller“Obama Signed Secret Cyber Directive in October”

Nov 14: New York Times – At War Blog, “Possible Score for Syrian Rebels: Pictures Show Advanced Missile Systems”

Nov 14: The Guardian – Middle East Live“Surface-to-Air Missiles”

Nov 14: RIA Novosti, “5 Questions About the CIA Sex Scandal”

Nov 13: Popular Mechanics“What China’s Nuclear Missile Subs Mean for the U.S.”

Nov 13: Foreign Policy, “Red Balloon – Is Congress Inflating the China Threat?”

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