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Nuclear Weapons

NNSA’s Roller Coaster Ride on Costs of the 3+2 Plan

Written with Stephen Young

The FY16 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP), released in March, is the latest in a series of these reports published annually by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-independent agency that oversees production and maintenance of U.S. nuclear warheads, as well as the infrastructure required for these activities. Read More

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Workshop on the Future of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

Last September UCS, in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), organized a one-day workshop on the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. We are pleased to release the summary report of the conference, which recaps the day and provides key findings. Read More

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Preventing Space War

“Of all the places where conflict could erupt, space might seem the least likely, except in movies.”

So says a very good New York Times editorial “Preventing a Space War” this week. Sounds right, if X-Wing fighters come to mind when you think space conflict. But in reality conflict in space is both more likely than one would think and less likely to be so photogenic. Read More

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The No-Muss, No-Fuss Solution to Preventing Accidental Nuclear War

Here’s something I bet you say to yourself pretty often: “Boy, I sure hope I don’t die in an accidental nuclear war today.” Okay, you may never have said that, but if you thought about it, you would.

More importantly, while it is not highly likely that you will die in an accidental or mistaken nuclear war today, the chances of that happening are likely greater than of dying in an intentional nuclear war—probably much greater. And that’s just plain crazy. Read More

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What is the Administration’s Rationale for Keeping Missiles on Hair-Trigger Alert?

One of the sensible ideas the non-nuclear weapon states promoted at both the 2010 and 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conferences is the idea that the nuclear weapon states should take their missiles off high alert and eliminate the option to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an attack. This would reduce the risk of accidental, mistaken, and unauthorized launches while retaining deterrence by post-attack retaliation. Read More

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China and MIRVed Warheads

A recent Pentagon report on Chinese Military Power reported that for the first time China has apparently begun to put multiple warheads on some of its ballistic missiles. This would mean that China can use its existing missile force to launch more nuclear warheads. This change was also reported in a New York Times article over the weekend. Read More

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NPT Brief: Keeping Chinese Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert

An overwhelming majority of NPT member states agree that keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert presents an irresponsibly high risk of an accidental or mistaken launch. The final report of the last NPT review conference, held in 2010, included a requirement to lower alert levels. The United States is doing its best to make sure that requirement is stripped from the final language of the 2015 report, despite the wishes of many close U.S. allies. Read More

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U.S. Plays Word Games in Statement about Alert Level of Nuclear Weapons

On Tuesday, the U.S. delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York issued a statement on the alert level of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, the statement is disingenuous and misleading, and relies on word games to obfuscate the real issues. It inappropriately seeks to dispel NPT delegates’ concerns about the U.S. practice of keeping nuclear missiles ready to be launched within minutes, giving the president the option of launching these missiles based on warning of an incoming attack. Read More

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The End for MOX

Last week the Aerospace Corporation sent to Congress its new analysis of the costs of the mixed oxide (MOX) program and other alternatives to dispose of excess plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons. UCS was the first outside organization to obtain and distribute a copy of the one-page summary of the analysis.

The results it shows are stunning: The cost to complete the MOX program going forward are $47.5 billion, 90% higher than the comparable estimate from just a year ago. Read More

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Hair-Trigger Alert and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Fact-Checking the U.S. Fact Sheet

In the lead up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon, for those who enjoy acronyms), opening today, the U.S. Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation released a fact sheet titled “Myths and Facts Regarding the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Regime.”

Judging by the selection of “myths” they chose to include, the United States seems to be feeling a bit defensive about its track record in making progress towards the main objective of the NPT—nuclear disarmament. That is the central bargain of the NPT: the five countries designated as nuclear weapon states—the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France—agree to give up their nuclear weapons in exchange for all the other non-nuclear weapon states agreeing not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Read More

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