Posts tagged with United States

Better Understanding North Korea: Q&A with Seven East Asian Experts, Part 2

North Korea flag nuclearEditor’s Note: This is the second of two postings of a Q&A conducted primarily by the Federation of American Scientists regarding the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. Developed and edited by Charles P. BlairMark Jansson, and Devin H. Ellis, the authors’ responses have not been edited; all views expressed by these subject-matter experts are their own. Please note that additional terms are used to refer to North Korea and South Korea, i.e., the DPRK and ROK respectively.

Researchers from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) asked seven individuals who are experts in East Asia about the the recent escalation in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Is North Korea’s recent success with its nuclear test and satellite launch evidence that it is maturing? Is there trepidation in Japan over the perceived threat of North Korea attacking Japan with a nuclear weapon? Has North Korea mastered re-entry vehicle (RV) technology?  Is there any plausible way to de-nuclearize North Korea?

This is the second part of the Q&A, featuring Dr. Yousaf Butt, Dr. Jacques Hymans and Ms. Masako Toki. Read the first part here. Continue Reading →

End of the B53 Era; Continuation of the Spin Era

Hans Kristensen with B53 Bomb

By Katie Colten and Hans Kristensen

[Modifed] Today, one of the largest weapons in the United States nuclear weapons arsenal, the B53, will be dismantled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. Developed during the Cold War and deployed in 1962, this bomb weighs as much as a minivan and has an explosive yield of nine megatons, equivalent to 750 Hiroshima bombs.

Retired from the arsenal in 1997, the dismantlement of the B53 marks the end of the era of large, multi-megaton bombs, a hallmark of the Cold War. The largest-yield warhead in the U.S. stockpile today is the B83 bomb, which has a maximum yield of 1.2 Megatons.

Administration officials have been busy spinning the dismantlement as proof of the administration’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and as vindication of its plan to spend billions of extra dollars to modernize the nuclear weapons production complex. Continue Reading →

20th Anniversary of START

July 31st is the 20-year anniversary of signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and the Soviet Union. The treaty, also known as START I, marked the beginning of a treaty-based reduction of U.S. and Soviet (later Russian) strategic nuclear forces after the end of the Cold War.

START I required each country to limit its number of accountable strategic delivery vehicles (ballistic missiles and long-range bombers) to no more than 1,600 with no more than 6,000 accountable warheads. The treaty came with a unique on-site inspection regime where inspectors from the two countries would inspect each other’s declared force levels. Thousands of other warheads were not affected and the treaty did not require destruction of a single nuclear warhead. START I entered into effect on December 5th, 2001, and expired on December 4, 2009.

Twenty years after the signing of START I, the United States and Russia are still in the drawdown phase of their strategic nuclear forces: START II followed in 1993, limiting the force levels to 3,500 accountable warheads by 2007 with no multiple warheads on land-based missiles; START II was never ratified by the U.S. Senate but surpassed by the Moscow Treaty in 2002, limiting the number of operationally deployed strategic warheads to 2,200 by 2012; The Moscow Treaty was replaced by the New START treaty signed in 2010, which limits the number of accountable strategic warheads to 1,550 on 700 deployed ballistic missiles and long-range bombers by 2018. Like its predecessors, New START does not limit thousands of non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear warheads and does not require destruction of a single warhead.

The Obama administration has stated that the next treaty must also place limits on non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear warheads.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

Missile Watch – November 2010


Missile Watch

A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 3
November 2010
Editor: Matt Schroeder

Contents:

Editor’s Note: Wikileaks and arms trafficking, Missile Watch sponsorship program
Global News: UN Arms Register: Venezuela was the largest importer of MANPADS in 2009
Global News: Extradition of Viktor Bout could reveal much about the illicit arms trade
Afghanistan: No evidence of Iranian MANPADS training, claims NATO official
Egypt: Another Massive Missile Cache Discovered in the Sinai
Somalia: Photos of missile confirms claims in UN report, but questions remain
United States: FAS obtains key counter-MANPADS report
Additional News & Resources
About the Authors
About Missile Watch

Download full issue

Editor’s Note
The surprise extradition of notorious arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States tops the list of developments covered in this edition of Missile Watch. The former Russian intelligence officer is widely considered to be one of the most prolific arms traffickers of the last twenty years, and his trial is likely to yield important new insights into the illicit arms trade. Also noteworthy is the release of the Department of Homeland Security’s final report on its counter-MANPADS program. The report confirms that two anti-missile systems evaluated during the program are capable of protecting planes from MANPADS, but the $43 billion price tag may preclude their installation on more than a small number of airliners.

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Report reveals $11.7 billion in arms deliveries in 2009, but sheds little light on individual exports

By Matt Schroeder

Deliveries of arms through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales Program (FMS) increased by nearly $700 million in fiscal year (FY) 2009, according to the most recent edition of the Annual Military Assistance Report. The report, which is often referred to as the “Section 655 Report,” is compiled each year by the Defense Department and the State Department. The Defense Department’s contributions to the annual report are acquired by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) through annual requests under the Freedom of Information Act. While the report is useful for tracking trends in the overall value of certain types of arms sales to specific countries, it provides very little detailed information on individual exports, or exports arranged through non-traditional US military aid programs. Changing the way the data is aggregated and presented, and expanding the report to include data on all arms exports, would make the report more useful and improve congressional and public understanding of US arms exports.

Click here to read the full article.

New Study Examines Global Trade in Ammunition

The global trade in ammunition for small arms and light weapons is worth an estimated $4.3 billion, according to a comprehensive new study released today.

Findings from the study, which is co-authored by Matt Schroeder of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), appears as a chapter in Small Arms Survey 2010: Gangs, Groups, and Guns.

The study is part of a multi-year assessment of authorized international transfers of small arms and light weapons, their parts, accessories and ammunition. Previous findings on the international trade in firearms are available in last year’s edition of the Small Arms Survey’s annual yearbook.

Continue Reading →

U.S. Defense Department sold more than $15 billion in arms in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2009, report reveals

By Matt Schroeder

Arms sold by the Defense Department to foreign recipients totaled more than $15 billion in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2009, according to a report obtained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). The quarterly report, which is dated February 2009 and is required by Section 36(a) of the Arms Export Control Act, indicates that defense articles and services sold through Defense Department Security Assistance programs from October through December 2008 were worth approximately $15.79 billion[1]. The United Arab Emirates was the largest buyer, accounting for $7 billion of sales. Saudi Arabia was a distant second with $1.87 billion, and Iraq was third with $947 million in sales. The remaining top ten recipients are listed in the table below. Sales to the top ten countries accounted for more than 80% of total sales, and nearly 89% of unclassified arms sales. These data show that a handful of countries continue to account – in dollar value terms – for the vast majority of arms sold through the US Defense Department.

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Is The US Prepared For Bioweapons Decontamination?

A new report by the UPMC Center for Biosecurity suggests that the US remains unprepared for the task of decontaminating the site of a major biological weapon attack.  Decontamination after the comparatively small-scale Anthrax attacks of 2001 is estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, while shuttering some facilities for as long as two years.  By comparison, the costs of a larger scale attack on a major city could be staggering.

In particular, the report singles out several major problems:

-          Multiple Federal agencies have potentially conflicting responsibilities in the aftermath of an attack.  For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be sampling the site for a criminal investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency would be working on decontamination and the Department of Health and Human Services (home of the Centers for Disease Control) would be tracking the epidemiology of any disease outbreak.

-          Research into the problem is split between at least five federal agencies with major programs that examine decontamination.  This work is also comparatively underfunded in the context of broader biodefense spending.

-          A number of potentially crucial issues remain unanswered; there are limited techniques for taking samples of large, outdoor areas, and it is unclear how much danger there might be of further spreading infectious material during a cleanup effort.

The report calls for the government to clarify the roles of Federal agencies, as well as building owners, in the aftermath of an attack.  It also recommends increased investment in research and infrastructure, especially trained first responder personnel.

Capitol Briefing on Biological Weapon Threats

A March 19th briefing at the US Capitol brought together a panel of experts to discuss the threat of biological weapons.  The briefing, titled “Deterring Biological Threats”, was hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and focused heavily on the historical records of the destructive potential of the Cold War bioweapons programs in the US and the USSR.  With more modern threats, such as Al Qaeda’s well-documented search for Anthrax, the amount of interest in biological attacks appears to be increasing.  The means of actually deterring and preventing these biological threats remain less clear. Continue Reading →

New Industry Biosecurity Conference To Host Experts from Government, Academia

A tight funding environment for academic research, coupled with rapid technological advances, has created an environment where innovation will increasingly occur in industry and at start-up companies.  Regulation in new fields, such as synthetic biology, trails the cutting edge of research, creating an extra need for industry to be involved in the discussion surrounding biosecurity.

A new conference hopes to fill this role by bringing top Administration and Agency officials directly to the site of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) annual meeting.  Organized with the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) and the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response (ISTAR), the new Biosecurity conference is notable in that it demonstrates a commitment by BIO to examine biosecurity issues.

Looking to foster the discussion, the Obama administration is sending a significant number of participants from various relevant agencies; Gary Samore, the White House Coordinator for the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, are expected to participate in the opening session.  The conference will also hold sessions on food security, public health surveillance, countermeasures, and risk mitigation.

More information is available at the conference web site, http://convention.bio.org/biosecurity/