Posts from June, 2006

British Parliament Report Criticizes Government Refusal to Participate in Nuclear Deterrent Inquiry

Although the British government has promised a full and open public debate about the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, it has so far failed to explain what decisions need to be made, failed to provide a timetable for those decisions, and has refused to participate in a House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry on the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, according to a British parliamentary report. The report partially relies on research conducted by the FAS Nuclear Information Project for the SIPRI Yearbook.

Online overview of British nuclear forces

Breakdown of Federal Funding for Biodefense 2001-2007

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has released their analysis of US Federal Spending on Biodefense from 2001-2007.

The numbers are staggering: Since 2001 the U.S. government has spent or allocated over $36 billion among 11 federal departments and agencies on biodefense. The Bush Administration has proposed $8 billion in biodefense spending for FY ’07, approximately $120 million (or 1.5%) over the ’06 appropriation. Of particular interest was that only 2% of all federal biodefense funding has been devoted to efforts to prevent the development, acquisition, and use of biological weapons by other nations and terrorists.

You can view their analysis here or download it as a PDF

BARDA: House vs. Senate

Earlier this month, Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) submitted the House version (H.R.5533) of the `Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2006′ (BARDA). The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) (S.2564). The two bills are essentially the same with the exception of two controversial sections included in the Senate, but not the House version. Section 5: Orphan Drug Market Exclusivity for Countermeasures Products and Section 7: Collaboration and Coordination.

The Market Exclusivity section Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to extend the period of market exclusivity from seven years to ten years for certain new drugs, antibiotics, or anti-infective drugs to treat a rare disease or condition caused by a biological agent, toxin, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent that is deemed by the Secretary to be a material threat to the United States.

The Collaboration and Coordination section provides an antitrust exemption for: (1) meetings and consultations held by the Secretary among persons engaged in the development of countermeasures or pandemic or epidemic products; and (2) agreements resulting from such meetings.

See the extended entry for the full text of Sections 5 and 7.
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G-8 Summit Begins July 15 in St. Petersburg

When I filled up my compact sedan this past weekend at the Getty station near my home, at – ouch! – 3.07 a gallon, I noticed an advertisement on the pump for a Lukoil credit card. I had not paid attention to this before, but Russian oil giant Lukoil owns the Getty name, and also several other brands in the Eastern United States. Those of us who live in the Washington, DC region no doubt have noticed a number of Lukoil direct-branded service stations popping up around the area.

Russia is rolling in profits not only from oil, but also from its natural gas reserves. And there is little doubt that Russian gas as part of nailing down a global energy security policy will be at the top of President Putin’s agenda at the G-8 Summit, which starts July 15 in St. Petersburg: http://en.g8russia.ru/
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Effort Underway in European Parliament Against US Nuclear Weapons in Europe

A Written Declaration presented in the European Parliament calls for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe by the end of 2006. The Declaration has until December 10 to gather support from at least half of the Parliament’s 732 members to be adopted and formally submitted to the US government. The initiative comes as Russia refused last week to discuss tactical nuclear weapons with the United States. Most European want the US to withdraw its remaining nuclear weapons from Europe.

Background report: U.S. Nuclear Weapons In Europe

Pentagon/White House Provide Talking Points on Iraq Debate

Coverage of the debate in both the House and the Senate on measures to endorse the current policy in Iraq, referred to a mysterious set of talking points, called the Iraq Floor Debate Prep Book. The Washington Post wrote:

“Their position was bolstered by a 74-page document drafted by the White House and distributed by the Pentagon, replete with talking points, quotations and timelines to back administration policy. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) called the document “an affront to the American people.”

Some have raised questions about the legality of the document (because of bans against using Executive branch funds to lobby Congress) and it was formally withdrawn. We asked Senator Lautenberg’s office for a copy of the document, which it kindly provided, along with a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld.

37 Nobel Laureates Sign Letter Opposing the Indian-US Nuclear Deal

Thirty seven Nobel Laureates signed a letter opposing the administration’s proposed nuclear trade deal between India and the United States. The letter was released at a press briefing at the National Press Club yesterday.

The Federation of American Scientists was founded by scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. The founders of FAS understood that the technology that made nuclear power possible and the technology that made nuclear weapons possible were inextricably entangled. One of the founding issues of the Federation was, therefore, openness and international inspection, if not control, of all the world’s nuclear facilities. They recognized that this was the only hope of avoiding wide-spread proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Here we are sixty years later and faced with the same issue. The Federation strongly supports improved economic, cultural, trade, academic, and security relations with India. We would like to see Chinese, as well as US, Russian, indeed, everyone’s nuclear arsenals dramatically reduced and eventually eliminated. The Indian-US nuclear deal further undermines the already weakened non-proliferation regime and pushes the world in the wrong direction, toward greater legitimacy of nuclear weapons.

The Federation of American Scientists is proud that thirty seven Nobel Laureates on its Board of Sponsors agreed to endorse this letter to Congress.

US Air Force Publishes New Missile Threat Assessment

The Air Force has published a new report about the threat from ballistic and cruise missiles. The new report, Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat, presents the Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center’s (NASIC) assessment of current and emerging weapon systems deployed or under development by Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Syria and others.

Among the news in the report is a different and higher estimate for China’s future nuclear arsenal than was presented in the previous NASIC report from 2003. Whereas the previous assessment stated that China in 15 years will have 75-100 warheads on ICBMs capable of reaching the United States, the 2006 report states that this number will be “well over 100″ warheads. NASIC also believes that a new Chinese cruise missile under development will have nuclear capability.

Also new is that NASIC reports that the Indian Agni I ballistic missile has not yet been deployed despite claims by the Indian government that the weapon was “inducted” into the Indian Army in 2004. Contrary to claims made by some media and experts, the NASIC report states that the Indian Bramos cruise missile does not have a nuclear capability. The Babur cruise missile under development by Pakistan, however, is assessed to have a nuclear capability.

A copy of the report, which was published in March 2006 and recently obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, is available in full along with previous versions here.

Council on Foreign Relations Gets It Wrong on India

The Council on Foreign Relations just released a “Special Report,” U.S.-India Nuclear Cooperation by Michael Levi and Charles Ferguson. Mike and Charles are first rate thinkers but I disagree with almost every aspect of their report.

The report is seductively misleading because many of the recommendations make good sense given the presumptions and context of the report. But the presumptions and context are wrong. So first, we need to step back and examine the context. The authors state early on that “…the Bush administration has stirred deep passions and put Congress in the seemingly impossible bind of choosing between approving the deal and damaging nuclear nonproliferation, or rejecting the deal and thereby setting back an important strategic relationship.” [p. 3] This is true, but the problem is with the deal, not the implementation.
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