Latest Posts

24 Space-Based Missile Defense Satellites Cannot Defend Against ICBMs

, co-director and senior scientist

UPDATE: In September 2018, UCS released an animated feature and video that explains how space-based missile defense works. Check it out here.

Articles citing a classified 2011 report by the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) have mistakenly suggested the report finds that a constellation of only 24 satellites can be used for space-based boost-phase missile defense. Read More

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More Comments on the IDA Boost-Phase Missile Defense Study

, co-director and senior scientist

Part 1 of this post discusses one aspect of the 2011 letter from Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to then-Senator Kyl about the IDA study of space-based missile defense. The letter raises several additional issues, which I comment on here. Read more >

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Pipe Rupture at Surry Nuclear Plant Kills Four Workers

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Role of Regulation in Nuclear Plant Safety #7

Both reactors at the Surry nuclear plant near Williamsburg, Virginia operated at full power on December 9, 1986. Around 2:20 pm, a valve in a pipe between a steam generator on Unit 2 and its turbine inadvertently closed due to a re-assembly error following recent maintenance. The valve’s closure resulted in a low water level inside the steam generator, which triggered the automatic shutdown of the Unit 2 reactor. The rapid change from steady state operation at full power to zero power caused a transient as systems adjusted to the significantly changed conditions. About 40 seconds after the reactor trip, a bend in the pipe going to one of the feedwater pumps ruptured. The pressurized water jetting from the broken pipe flashed to steam. Several workers in the vicinity were seriously burned by the hot vapor. Over the next week, four workers died from the injuries. Read more >

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Obstruction of Injustice: Columbia Generating Station Whitewash

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

There’s been abundant talk recently about obstruction of justice—who may or may not have impeded this or that investigation. Rather than chime in on a bad thing, obstruction of justice, this commentary advocates a good thing—obstruction of injustice. There’s an injustice involving the Columbia Generating Station in Washington that desperately needs obstructing. Read more >

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Opposition to Trump’s New Low-Yield Nuclear Warhead

, Washington representative and senior analyst

And the “consensus” on rebuilding the US nuclear stockpile

The Trump administration’s program to deploy a new, low-yield variant of the W76 warhead carried by U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles has faced relatively strong opposition in Congress, with almost all Democrats and several Republicans supporting legislation to eliminate or curb the program. Read more >

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