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More of NPEC’s Work
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Articles | Occasional Papers & Monographs | Interviews | Official Docs & Letters | Op-Eds & Blogs | Press Releases | Presentations | Audio & Video | Testimony & Transcripts | Translations | Wargame Reports
HOME > Presentations      
Sep 09, 2021 "The National Security Case for America Returning to the Moon," virtual NPEC meeting
On September 9th at 5:00 PM, NPEC hosted a virtual event on "The National Security Case for America Returning to the Moon." NPEC secured a distinguished panel of space experts to discuss the topic. Peter Garretson, Senior Fellow in Defense Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, and Simon "Pete" Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, gave brief presentations. In addition, Michael "Mick" Gleason, national security senior project engineer in the Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy, provided brief commentary. See below for slides and a recording.  
Jun 18, 2021 "Can Self-Government Survive the Next Convulsion?" American Purpose
When Washington worries about our government surviving against future military threats, it uses nuclear war as its benchmark. To skirt the worst, it maintains international nuclear hotlines; hardens our nation’s nuclear command, control, and warning systems; and games possible nuclear attacks, defenses, and counter strikes. More important, it maintains elaborate plans to uphold the “continuity of government” (think “Last Survivor” fortified with real nuclear bunkers, emergency communications systems, and legal lines of succession). Developed during the Cold War, these continuity of government plans give Washington some confidence it might ride out a nuclear attack and continue to govern. We assume that less dramatic threats can be handled as “lesser included threats” to this "big one." But can they? In the attached American Purpose piece, “Can Self-Government Survive the Next Convulsion?” I argue no. With any bad luck, targeted civil disorders, pinpoint biological attacks, assassination drone strikes in Washington, as well as precision strikes against key U.S. financial, energy, and commercial nodes could unplug self-government in favor of martial rule without a “Day After” pulverizing of America’s major cities. Such pinpoint attacks could also do this without uprooting most Americans’ daily routines. If this is at all likely, it recommends that we finally get serious about distributing our government by moving more of it out of Washington. It also recommends encouraging our nation’s largest commercial institutions and companies to locate their largest offices and plants away from the left and right coasts into the nation’s heartland.  How might this work operationally and politically? I take a stab below if only to assess if making such heroic changes would be worth the candle. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ On July 12, 2021,  Henry Sokolski gave a virtual presentation for American Purpose on this op-ed. For the video recording, see below.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________
Jun 15, 2021 "Military micro-reactors: Waging yesterday's wars while losing the future's," Defense News
Earlier this month, the Secretary of Defense requested $60 million for further development of Project Pele, a micro-reactor concept the Army is working on to provide power for remote military bases. So far, the project has flown largely below the political radar screen. It shouldn’t. In a Defense News piece, “Military Micro-reactors: Fighting Yesterday’s Wars While Losing the Future’s,” Bryan Clark, a former nuclear submariner at the Hudson Institute, and I make the case that the Pentagon should hit the brakes.  It isn’t that the project is technically infeasible: the United States demonstrated luggable military reactors a half-century ago. It’s that they’re geared to wage wars in ways that no longer make sense.  Early in the Afghanistan campaign, a key vulnerability of our forward bases was the extended lines of fuel trucks needed to transit fuel to our forward-deployed forces. These convoys were sitting ducks that locals could knockout with mere potshots. Hence, the Army’s interest in developing reactors that might reduce our military's need to deliver so much fuel to contested bases. That was a decade or more ago. Today, forward bases’ key vulnerability is different. It’s not logistical convoys that are the key target, but the bases themselves. Chinese, Russian, Iranian, North Korean, Turkish, and European accurate missiles and drones have spread to the world’s hotspots and to proxy forces. These missiles can be used to knockout the bases themselves. This makes forward basing our forces much more risky.  If you build micro-reactors on these bases, you have a prescription for even more mischief. If hit, the reactors would jeopardize the base, leaving a radiological stain that would be difficult to remove and diplomatically awkward to handle. At the very least, potential host nations — e.g., a Japan or a Germany — would be loath to allow such plants on their soil.  Bryan and I make these points and several others. Bottom line: The Pentagon should leave this project to NASA and DoE.  To determine how best to power forward based energy-directed weapons, electric military vehicles, and the like, the Defense Department should stop picking preferred “winners” without truly having an open contest. Towards this end, the Pentagon might employ DARPA’s proven technique of awarding prizes for winners of technical contests that allow a wide variety of possible solutions.  There currently is a rapid rate of innovation for renewables, battery storage, distributed energy systems, switching technologies, and the like. Having the Pentagon clarify its military energy requirements, set a competition deadline, and announce a large prize for the winner makes more sense than funding some faddish pick.  _________________________________________________________________________________________________ On June 24, 2021, Bryan Clark and Henry Sokolski gave a presentation on this op-ed. Their presentation, "Does Our Military Need Micro-Reactors?" examines the military case for Project Pele, a micro-reactor concept the Pentagon is funding to provide power for a variety of military missions. For the Powerpoint slides, click here. For the video recording, see below.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________
May 27, 2021 Grim Prospect: Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East (Occasional Paper 2103)
As Secretary of State Blinken returns from his trip to Israel after its shooting match with Hamas, the question arises, just how peaceful is the Middle East ever likely to be. The immediate crisis and the shooting may be over in Israel but the long-term prospects for the region include the very grimmest of futures — nuclear proliferation and, with any bad luck, nuclear war. Sound breathless? Maybe, but in the last 36 months, Iran’s, Turkey’s, and Saudi Arabia’s leaders have all threatened to get nuclear weapons and withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. One or more of them might actually follow through. After that, nuclear use in the region is hardly out of the question. How bad might that be? I commissioned a graduate of MIT’s school of nuclear engineering, a contract analyst, Ms. Eva Lisowski, to find out. Using a variety of publicly available computer models, Ms. Lisowski assessed how much harm even a low-yield, nuclear weapon might do in the Middle East. She evaluated how many casualties these weapons would inflict against the populations in five major Middle Eastern cities — Tehran, Riyadh, Dubai, Cairo, and Tel Aviv (for the full report, click here). What she discovered was disturbing: A one-kiloton device detonated at ground level would be at least as deadly as the 15 and 20 kiloton nuclear weapons used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The weapons dropped in 1945 were detonated at 1,600 feet to maximize their blast effects against buildings. One-kiloton ground-bursts, in contrast, maximize prompt radiation and fallout effects against people. The modeled casualty numbers, which ranged from scores to hundreds of thousands, were disturbingly high. Ms. Lisowski's findings have major nuclear control implications. Her study was funded not only by private charitable foundations (Scaife, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and MacArthur), but by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. The question the bureau study asked was what might it take to verify and enforce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) over the next two decades. This report suggests that, at a minimum, it will require more nuclear inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) currently assumes that it takes 8 kilograms of plutonium and 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. These numbers (what the IAEA refers to as "significant quantities" or SQs) are a bit on the high side even for a 20-kiloton Nagasaki bomb. They are dangerously obsolete, however, and far too high for a one-kiloton device, which requires not 8, but only 1 to 3 kilograms of plutonium and not 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, but 2.5 to 8 kilograms. This discovery would be academic were it not that the IAEA continues to use its SQ figures to determine how often it should inspect civil nuclear facilities and materials to prevent and deter them from being diverted for military purposes. If, as this study maintains, the agency’s SQs are three to eight times too high, then the agency’s recommended frequency of inspections (what it refers to as their “timeliness detection goals”) are also way too low. None of this makes for pleasant reading. But ignoring or hiding these facts or, worse, lying about them will hardly help. Our government, as well as like-minded states and the IAEA, need to sort this out.   _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ On June 7, 2021, Eva Lisowki gave a presentation on this report. To view her Powerpoint slides, click here. To watch the video recording, see below.  ________________________________________________________________________________________________________    
May 26, 2021 "India and Pakistan's Next Military Challenge: Drone Warfare," virtual NPEC meeting
On May 26th at 5:00 pm EDT, NPEC hosted a virtual meeting on, "India and Pakistan's Next Military Challenge: Drone Warfare." NPEC secured two of the top experts on this issue, Sameer Lalwani, Senior Fellow and Director of the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center, and General (retired) Feroz Khan, Research Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. The seminar's aim was to clarify how Pakistan and India view the future of drone warfare in South Asia. See below for the recording and slides.    
May 20, 2021 Henry Sokolski Presentation on "China's Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords?"
On May 20, 2021, Henry Sokolski gave a brief overview of the recent NPEC report, "China's Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords?" This presentation answered the following questions: How might China exploit its "peaceful" fast reactor and reprocessing programs to make nearly as many nuclear weapons by 2030 as the United States currently deploys? How might it produce even more nuclear weapons exploiting its other power reactor and enrichment plants? What should the United States do to clarify what China might do? What should Washington explore with Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul to limit the prospect of a fissile material production race? 
Apr 22, 2021 The New Day After: Accurate Missiles in the Middle East
Uzi Rubin, founder and first director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) in the Israel Ministry of Defense (MoD), briefs the group on how precise missile and drone attacks can cause near-nuclear scale damage against states like Israel.
Apr 12, 2021 Lecture at University of San Diego on "Dr. Strangelove's New Passion: Precision-Guided Mayhem"
On April 12, 2021, NPEC Executive Director Henry Sokolski gave a lecture to University of San Diego students on the subject of "Dr. Strangelove's New Passion: Precision-Guided Mayhem."
Mar 25, 2021 Lecture at University of Utah on, "Dr. Strangelove's New Passion: Precision-Guided Mayhem"
On March 24, 2021, NPEC Executive Director Henry Sokolski gave a lecture to University of Utah students on the subject of "Dr. Strangelove's New Passion: Precision-Guided Mayhem."
Mar 11, 2021 The Next China Syndrome: Taiwanese Reactors' Vulnerability to Missile and Drone Strikes
This is the first series of workshops the center will be holding and to kick off this working group, Ian Easton of Project 2049 has agreed to brief us on China's targeting of Taiwan's reactors, which recently made the news. In addition, Henry Sokolski will be sharing research NPEC has conducted on the impact of such strikes.  
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The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), is a 501 (c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization
founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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