FAS Roundup: May 13, 2013

Issue brief on regulating nuclear power in Japan, NASA technical database back online, new executive order on government information and much more.

Regulating Japanese Nuclear Power in the Wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Accident

The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was preventable. The Great East Japan earthquake and the tsunami that followed it were unprecedented events in recent history, but they were not altogether unforeseeable. Stronger regulation across the nuclear power industry could have prevented many of the worst outcomes at Fukushima Daiichi and will be needed to prevent future accidents.

In a new FAS issue brief, Dr. Charles Ferguson and Mr. Mark Jansson review some of the major problems leading up to the accident including the lack of regulation of the nuclear power industry and slow updates to safety requirements, such as using probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) methods to  improve accident management plans.

Additionally, the issue brief provides an overview of  proposed regulatory reforms, including an overhaul of the nuclear regulatory bureaucracy and specific safety requirements which are being considered for implementation in all nuclear power plants. These requirements including the establishment of earthquake resistant control centers, installation of filtered vents above reactor containment vessels and limitation of reactor life to no more than forty years.

Read the issue brief, “Regulating Japanese Nuclear Power in the Wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Accident” here (PDF).

From the Blogs

Making Government Information Open and Machine Readable: On May 9, President Obama issued Executive Order 13642 which directs that “the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable.” The new order establishes a requirement to produce an inventory of “datasets that can be made publicly available but have not yet been released.” Steven Aftergood writes that while one wants to believe in the efficacy of the order and to affirm the good faith intentions behind it, it is necessary to recognize how remote it is from current practice, particularly in the contentious realm of national security information.

International Intelligence Agreements and Other DoD Directives: The U.S. Air Force released a new Instruction which establishes international agreements for the exchange of intelligence information with foreign military services. Secrecy News also obtained a new Department of Defense Instruction regarding records management within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and a new directive on DoD information operations.

Judge Mosman Named to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: Chief Justice John Roberts has appointed Judge Michael W. Mosman of the District of Oregon to serve as a judge on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The eleven-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reviews applications from government agencies for electronic surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In 2012, the Court approved 1,788 applications for electronic surveillance and denied none, as noted in a report to Congress last month.

NASA Technical Report Database Partly Back Online: The website of the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS), a massive collection of aerospace-related records, was disabled in March due to congressional concerns that it had inadvertently disclosed export-controlled information. The site is now active again, though hundreds of thousands of previously released documents have been withheld pending review. Rather than conducting a focused search for actual export-controlled information and then removing it, as would have seemed appropriate, NASA blocked access to the entire collection.

Senate Confirms Chair of Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: Almost a year and a half after he was nominated by President Obama in December 2011, the Senate confirmed David Medine to be the chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board by a vote of 53-45 on May 7. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an independent agency established by Congress to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are appropriately represented in the development and implementation of laws and regulations related to terrorism.

A Review of No Fly Zones and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as nuclear energy, U.S. science and engineering workforce, sequestration at the FAA and cuts to air traffic controllers.

Countering Nuclear and Radiological Threats Symposium

FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson will be the keynote speaker at a symposium hosted by VIP Global Net, LLC on May 15-16, 2013 at the Mason Inn at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

The topic of the symposium is “Countering Nuclear and Radiological Threats” and will feature speakers from the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) communities industry, operators, NGO and policymakers. The goal of the symposium is to facilitate solutions based discussion regarding nuclear and radiological threats related to national security and defense.

FAS Adjunct Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation Law and Policy Mr. Chris Bidwell, JD will also speak at the symposium.

Featured speakers and agenda can be found here.

To register for the symposium click here.


  • Mr. Matt Schroeder, Director of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project, participated in the 10th International Security Forum Conference in Geneva on April 23. Schroeder spoke on a panel regarding the role of illicit weapons in war zones. Schroeder’s presentation slides are available here.
  •  Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, traveled to Barksdale Air Force Base to brief the Deterrence and Assurance Working Group at Air Force Global Strike Command. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) is responsible for keeping U.S. strategic bombers (B-2 and B-52) and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) combat ready. Kristensen’s comments prepared remarks are available on Strategic Security Blog here.

FAS in the News

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