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More of NPEC’s Work
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Asia, Pacific Rim
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.  
Presentations; Audio & Video
Aug 24, 2021 China Waging War in Space: An After-Action Report (Occasional Paper 2104)
Last Friday, Space News reported Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten wanted to demonstrate a classified American anti-satellite capability before he left office this fall. Why? Because, he argued, keeping America's space capabilities secret is undermining its ability to deter Chinese and Russian attacks against key U.S. space-based nuclear and conventional military command, control, communications, and surveillance satellites. He’s got a point. In the space war game my center recently conducted, uncertainties about what space military capabilities the United States had and was willing to use caused serious confusion among our allies in responding to aggressive Chinese space actions. The game was perfected by Mark Herman, an internationally recognized war game designer that worked closely with the Pentagon for more than 30 years. The game’s play was further enhanced by the participation of some of the nation’s top military space experts, staff, and officials. The scenario had China using its anti-satellite capabilities to intimidate Japan. Beijing's plan was to keep Japan from helping Taiwan which China was about to blockade. The good news is China's ploy didn't work. The bad news is it was a close call. The game was played over two weeks and generated four key takeaways, which are posted below. For the full 100-page report, click here.
Occasional Papers & Monographs; Wargame Reports
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? 
Presentations; Audio & Video
May 12, 2021 Henry Sokolski Interview with The John Batchelor Show, "The perils of nuke plants on Taiwan."
On May 12, 2021, Henry Sokolski had an interview with The John Batchelor Show podacst on "The perils of nuke plants on Taiwan." Click here to listen to the recording.
Interviews; Audio & Video
May 10, 2021 "Nuclear plants a big security risk," Taipei Times
If there is a topic both supporters of Biden and Trump agree about it is the need to bolster Taiwan’s security. For most this has meant selling it more advanced weaponry. But there’s another military danger Taiwan faces that Washington can help reduce — the vulnerability of its power reactors to precision PLA missile attacks. In the attached Taipei Times piece, “Nuclear plants a big security risk,” I build on analysis Ian Easton of Project 2049 published earlier detailing Chinese instruction in targeting Taiwan’s reactors in their military guidebooks. Although China prefers to merely knock the plants out temporarily, the military is prepared to countenance radiological releases.  To shut down roughly 10 percent of Taiwan’s electrical generation, however, China needs only to fire a precise missile or drone near one of the reactors (say in their parking lot). Such strikes would also likely prompt local residents to flood the roads to escape possible follow-on attacks. If any of Taiwan’s active reactors were hit and suffered a loss of coolant, evacuation of many thousands to several million residents might be required. This August, Taiwan will hold a referendum on whether or not to complete a fourth nuclear plant, which is located directly on one of China’s most preferred landing beaches. Technically and financially, completing the plant is a non-starter. Still, it is a political referendum on President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party’s rule, one that critically depends upon the support of environmentalists, who back President Tsai’s call to shut down all of Taiwan’s reactors by 2025.  It is unclear how realistic meeting that deadline might be. What isn’t is the nuclear security imperative for Taiwan to replace its reactors with nonnuclear alternatives as soon as possible. This is one nuclear security energy initiative that should enjoy broad political and technical support not only in the United States, but from much of Western Europe, as well as from Japan and South Korea. 
Op-Eds & Blogs
Mar 24, 2021 China's Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords? (Occasional Paper 2102)
Today, Reuters reported that China is pushing the development of a new generation of fast breeder reactors that make significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium. The article draws on reports that China is building not one, but two large reprocessing plants (the first likely to come on line in 2025; the second sometime before 2030) and two large fast breeder reactors (projected to begin operation in 2023 and 2026). With the normal operation of fast breeder reactors of the size China is building comes the annual production of hundreds of bombs’ worth of weapons-grade plutonium. This has major military implications. To help clarify them, the Reuters article, cites NPEC’s research report, “China’s Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords?”, which NPEC is releasing today. The senior-most nuclear nonproliferation policy officials of both the Trump and the Obama Administrations — Christopher Ford and Thomas Countryman — coauthored the report’s preface and endorsed its determinations. The report’s key finding is that given China’s large fast reactor program, China could conservatively produce 1,270 nuclear weapons by 2030 simply by exploiting the weapons-grade plutonium this program will produce. If China chose, in addition, to make weapons that either used highly enriched uranium or composite (uranium-plutonium) cores, it could increase this number by a factor of two or more. The report makes several recommendations. First, our government needs to learn why, after 2017, China stopped reporting privately on its civilian plutonium activities and holdings to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). China, Russia, the United States, France, the UK, and Japan agreed to make these reports and have done so since 1997. Second, the US, South Korea, Japan, and China should make this information public and also publicly share their uranium holdings and enrichment related activities. On the defense side, Washington should ask Beijing to reveal what its military plutonium and uranium holdings are. The United States already did so in 1996 and 2001. Finally, the report recommends that the United States explore with China, Japan, and South Korea the idea of taking a commercial plutonium production timeout. Currently, fast reactors are far less economic than the least economic of conventional reactors. Japan, South Korea, and the United States could and should offer to delay their fast reactor and commercial plutonium programs if China would agree to do the same. The full report includes work by Hui Zhang of Harvard’s Belfer Center, Greg Jones, Frank Von Hippel of Princeton University, David Von Hippel, and two appendices consisting of previously published NPEC studies. The later examine the difficulties of preventing abrupt and incremental diversions from commercial nuclear fuel-making plants of the type China and Japan have or are planning to build and that South Korea and the United States are considering developing.  
Occasional Papers & Monographs
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.  
Presentations; Audio & Video
Feb 22, 2021 NPEC's Public Policy Fellowship Research Retreat 2021
Presentations; Audio & Video
Jan 06, 2021 How to Think about Our Rivalry with China and Russia
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Henry Sokolski gave an interview with The John Batchelor Show. We’re trading a lot, at least with China; quite unlike the Cold War.  Another complication is that our ideological opposition to what's going on in China and Russia is a lot less than the fear and loathing were during the Cold War. Finally, our allies have reason to want to do business with them.  China’s and Russia’s militaries work hand in glove with each other. A change is that many people know the malice of China in intentionally releasing the virus, with over 300,000 deaths.  However, many of China’s trading partners want nothing to do with China’s strategic cooperation. South Korea wants to rejoin with the North; not fully [aligned] with Japan. India and Australia.  A lot of other stuff needs attending to beneath that. It's a lot more complicated than formerly. Space: does this moot the success of strategic arms treaties of the last century?  No.  . . . an upcoming period of US vulnerability is space. Deterrence: a different meaning from during Cold War; no longer based in seas, air, ground, but on eyes, ears, voice from space. Absent these, a sort of lobotomy.      
Interviews; Audio & Video
Nov 05, 2020 Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASATs, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy
Earlier this summer, NPEC and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security held their fifth space policy workshop, “Three Neglected Space Issues: Laser ASAT's, Cooperation with China and Russia, and Space Secrecy.” Attached is the workshop report. Very little has been said publicly about the Chinese and Russian ground-based anti-satellite weapon threat. The first panel clarified this threat. Like rendezvous satellites, ground-based lasers have perfectly legitimate civilian applications. However, they also can be used to disrupt, dazzle, and destroy important military satellites. Some technical fixes against this threat are possible. It also would be desirable to have certain rules governing the operations of these ground-based systems. Devising either set of fixes, however, are not possible without discussing these matters in a more open fashion. The second panel focused on how excessive secrecy is hobbling America’s military space programs and related space control diplomacy. The details of how self-defeating some forms of secrecy are and what should be done about it were extensively discussed. Finally, the third panel focused on space cooperation with Russia and China. What is the future of such cooperation? Might more cooperation help sort out rules for military space operations or is additional space cooperation ill-advised? On these matters, the participant’s views were divided: Some thought space cooperation was the best way to promote needed space control rules; others believed it would be unlikely China would ever comply. Below is the workshop’s report. The impressive list of speakers and participants included James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers former Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Michael Gold, acting associate NASA administrator, and Simon “Pete” Worden of Breakthrough Initiatives.
Testimony & Transcripts
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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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