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CPSR Newsletter - Vol. 17, No. 1, Kraig
CPSR Newsletter

Winter 1999
Vol. 17, No. 1


Marsha Woodbury
Y2K: The Broad View

CPSR-Y2K Working Group Web Pages

Arthur C. Clarke
The Century Syndrome, from The Ghost from the Grand Banks

Anthony Ralston
Y2K and Social Responsibility

Peter Neumann
A Perspective on Y2K

Gary Chapman
Now For Another Daunting Y2K Task: Educating America's Masses

Lenny Siegel
OOPs 2000: The Y2K Bug and the Threat of Catastrophic Chemical Releases

Norman Kurland
How Y2K Will Impact the New York Times

Y2K and Nuclear Weapons

  • Letters Seeking Help on Nuclear Weapons Issues from
    Michael Kraig
    Alan Phillips

  • Four Prominent Scientists on Nuclear Weapons Concerns:
    Khursch Ahmed
    David Parnas
    Barbara Simons
    Terry Winograd

  • Gary Chapman
    A Moral Project for the 21st Century: Stop Creating Better Weapons


    Y2K Humor from the Internet and Beyond

    Cartoon (may crash older browsers)

    CPSR News:

    Aki Namioka
    A Letter from CPSR's President

    Netiva Caftori
    Chapter News

    Return to the Index.

  • Letters Seeking Help On Nuclear Weapons Issues

    Michael Kraig, British American Security Information Council

    Alan Phillips, Physicians For Global Survival

    Michael Kraig, British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

    I am heading a project on Y2K and nuclear weapons arsenals at the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) in Washington, DC, and London, the United Kingdom. We just released a first report on the nature of the millennium bug, or Y2K problem, as it relates to the Department of Defense and nuclear operations. The report summarizes the generic computer problem, the state of existing DoD Y2K remediation programs (including their many management deficiencies and failures), and possible Y2K vulnerabilities for nuclear weapons and associated operations. In particular, it concerns the command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems, which include warning satellites, radar arrays, data storage and correlation centers, and communications nodes. The report's conclusion outlines some general policy alternatives, such as the reduction, or de-alerting, of our alert rates from launch on warning to a lower state of readiness. The entire text (including endnotes) can be found on BASICs web page,

    I have sent the report to the key staffers of all house members and senators with nuclear warhead storage or deployment in their own backyard, as well as majority and minority staffers on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate. Reports have also gone to some key committee staffers (for instance, one person on Stephen Horn's Y2K subcommittee in the House, which has given "D" grades to the DoD on its Y2K repair progress) and all members of the Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Problem. To support these mailings, we have had several meetings with the offices of Senators Jeff Bingaman, Robert Kerrey, John Kerry, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Pete Dominici, Tom Harkin, Joseph Lieberman, and Christopher Dodd. Our hope is that senators such as Bob Kerry of Nebraska and Tom Daschle of South Dakota--both of whom are recommending de-alerting of the arsenals and unilateral cutbacks--will add Y2K to their agenda, or possibly use it to gain leverage with the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) in Omaha, Nebraska. In the past several years, both STRATCOM and civilian nuclear planners in the Office of Secretary of Defense have scuttled any attempts to consider de-alerting options.

    Helen Caldicott, currently head of the STAR Foundation (Standing for Truth about Radiation) and former head and founder of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, is putting together a symposium jointly with BASIC and the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS) in March with Bruce Blair, Ted Taylor, myself, and multiple experts on the domestic, or energy, side of nuclear power. Our policy goal is twofold: to get Congress to 1) charge the DoD Inspector General to do a series of highly specific reports on individual "high-risk" nuclear systems, including nuclear C3I, and 2) to move ahead on de-alerting (or at the very least, consider it as a realistic policy option).

    The General Accounting Office (GAO) has made and is making reports on DoD procedures, test data, contingency planning, and so on for its remediation program, but no one at the GAO is preparing narrowly focused reports on critical nuclear systems. In other words, the activity at this point is at least one step removed from the actual sources of potential trouble.

    If you are interested in this program or have your own suggestions for action, please contact me by phone at 202-785-1266 or email at John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists has suggested, for instance, that CPSR get 40 to 50 top computer scientists to write a letter to Congress, containing clearly defined goals and policy alternatives, including the tasking of Inspector General reports as well as more technical advice from the field.

    As a last note, I should say that BASIC is pretty much alone on this issue. Most expert analysts currently have other well-funded programs, and thus, other responsibilities for the foreseeable future. Other than appearing in the joint STAR-BASIC-NIRS symposium in March, or keeping an updated Web page, no one seems to be devoting time or resources to the topic. I have been looking for ways to split the research pie, since I cannot possibly cover all facets of DoD-STRATCOM nuclear operations. If you know of someone who could help on nuclear weapons, either in terms of original research or as a source of technical information for nuclear C3I and/or launch platform support systems, I would be very grateful.

    Michael R. Kraig, Scoville Fellow
    1900 L Street NW, Suite 401
    Washington, DC 20036


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