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Status Brief


Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Frantz, Douglas,”Port security: U.S. fails to meet deadline for scanning of cargo containersThe Washington Post. July 15, 2012. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-07-15/world/35489894_1_port-security-port-vulnerability-cargo-containers Last Checked February 24, 2013

  1. “The Obama administration has failed to meet a legal deadline for scanning all shipping containers for radioactive material before they reach the United States, a requirement aimed at strengthening maritime security and preventing terrorists from smuggling a nuclear device into any of the nation’s 300 sea and river ports.”
  2. “The Department of Homeland Security was given until this month to ensure that 100 percent of inbound shipping containers are screened at foreign ports.”
  3. “But the department’s secretary, Janet Napolitano, informed Congress in May that she was extending a two-year blanket exemption to foreign ports because the screening is proving too costly and cumbersome. She said it would cost $16 billion to implement scanning measures at the nearly 700 ports worldwide that ship to the United States.”
  4. “Instead, the DHS relies on intelligence-gathering and analysis to identify “high-risk” containers, which are checked before being loaded onto ships.”
  5. “The DHS says that those checks turned up narcotics and other contraband but that there have been no public reports of smuggled nuclear material.”
  6. “In response to the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed a law in 2007 specifying that no cargo container may enter the United States before being scanned with imaging equipment and a radiation-detection device.”
  7. ““I personally do not believe they intend to comply with the law,” Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-author of the 2007 law, said in an interview. “This is a real terrorist threat, and it has a solution. We can’t afford to wait until a catastrophic attack.””
  8. “The Government Accountability Office has warned that a nuclear device could be detonated while at a port — containers often sit for days awaiting radiation checks — causing billions of dollars in damage in addition to the loss of life. Estimates of damage caused by a nuclear detonation at a major port range from tens of billions of dollars to $1 trillion.”
  9. “The standard container is 40 feet long and 8 feet high and holds more than 30 tons of cargo.”
  10. “Counterterrorism experts have worried about port vulnerability since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, reportedly told interrogators he had considered sending explosives to the United States hidden inside a shipment of personal computers from Japan.”
  11. “Graham Allison, a Harvard University political scientist and author of a best-selling book on nuclear terrorism, said that a nuclear device is more likely to arrive in a shipping container than on a missile.”
  12. “The current screening system relies heavily on the Customs and Border Protection agency and focuses on a small percentage of goods identified as high-risk through intelligence and analytical software.”
  13. “The program operates at 58 overseas ports that account for 80 percent of the cargo shipped to the United States.”

Container Security, Executive, Law, Nuclear


Broad, William J., “Communications Satellites Made Legal for Export,” January 3, 2013, New York Times, Science http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/science/communications-satellites-banned-as-weapons-now-legal-for-export.html Last checked February, 2 2013.

  1. ”Communications satellites — which orbit Earth to relay phone calls, link ships to shore and broadcast television programs — will become legal for civilian export under legislation that President Obama signed into law on Thursday.”
  2. ”The defense bill that President Obama signed will undo that step and let American companies sell communications satellites as civilian technology rather than as deadly arms.”
  3. ”The new law gives Mr. Obama the authority to return communications satellites to their previous status as civilian technology. It retains provisions that restrict the export of satellites to nations like China and North Korea, and to sponsors of state terrorism like Iran.”
  4. ”Mr. Berman added that the benefits extended beyond the manufacturers. The national security establishment relies on the companies and their technological skills to fulfill the government’s satellite needs and to develop spacecraft involved in a wide range of military missions.”

Export Control, Law, Executive, China, North Korea, Iran


Schmidt, Michael, S., “Ex-Officer for C.I.A. Sentenced to 30 Months in Leak Case,” NYT January 25, 2013, last checked January 25, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/us/ex-officer-for-cia-is-sentenced-in-leak-case.html?emc=na&_r=0

  1. ”The first Central Intelligence Agency officer to face prison for disclosing classified information was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison by a judge at the federal courthouse here. {Alexandria, VA}.”
  2. ”The judge, Leonie M. Brinkema, said that in approving the sentence, she would respect the terms of a plea agreement between the former C.I.A. agent, John C. Kiriakou, and prosecutors, but ‘I think 30 months is way too light’.”
  3. ”The sentencing was the latest chapter in the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on government officials who disclose classified information to the press. Since 2009, the administration has charged five other current or former government officials with leaking classified information, more than all previous administrations combined.”
  4. ”In October, Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one charge of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, when he disclosed to a reporter the name of a former agency operative who had been involved in the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation of detainees. The plea was the first time someone had been successfully prosecuted under the law in 27 years.”
  5. ”In subsequent e-mails with a freelance writer, Mr. Kiriakou disclosed the name of one of his former colleagues, who was still under cover and had been a part of the interrogations.”
  6. ”The freelancer later passed the name to a researcher working for lawyers representing several Al Qaeda suspects being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who included the name in a sealed legal filing, angering government officials and kick-starting the federal investigation that ultimately ensnared Mr. Kiriakou. The name was not disclosed publicly at the time, but it appeared on an obscure Web site in October. “
  7. ”…in The Times in which he quoted Mr. Kiriakou as saying that if he had known that the C.I.A. officer had still been under cover, he would not have disclosed his identity. The prosecutors said that Mr. Kiriakou’s intimation that the disclosure was an “accident or mistake” contradicted his plea that he had willfully disclosed the information.”

Information Policy, Classified, Law Enforcement, Law, Executive


Sanger, David E.,”Broad Powers Seen for Obama in CyberstrikesNew York Times. February 3, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/us/broad-powers-seen-for-obama-in-cyberstrikes.html Last Checked February 18, 2013

  1. “A secret legal review on the use of America’s growing arsenal of cyberweapons has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad, according to officials involved in the review.”
  2. “That decision is among several reached in recent months as the administration moves, in the next few weeks, to approve the nation’s first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack.”
  3. “New policies will also govern how the intelligence agencies can carry out searches of faraway computer networks for signs of potential attacks on the United States and, if the president approves, attack adversaries by injecting them with destructive code — even if there is no declared war.”
  4. “John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser and his nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, played a central role in developing the administration’s policies regarding both drones and cyberwarfare, the two newest and most politically sensitive weapons in the American arsenal.”
  5. “The Pentagon has created a new Cyber Command, and computer network warfare is one of the few parts of the military budget that is expected to grow.”
  6. “Under current rules, the military can openly carry out counterterrorism missions in nations where the United States operates under the rules of war, like Afghanistan. But the intelligence agencies have the authority to carry out clandestine drone strikes and commando raids in places like Pakistan and Yemen, which are not declared war zones.”
  7. “Mr. Obama is known to have approved the use of cyberweapons only once, early in his presidency, when he ordered an escalating series of cyberattacks against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities.”
  8. “While the rules have been in development for more than two years, they are coming out at a time of greatly increased cyberattacks on American companies and critical infrastructure.”
  9. “The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that an American power station, which it did not name, was crippled for weeks by cyberattacks. The New York Times reported last week that it had been struck, for more than four months, by a cyberattack emanating from China.”

Cybersecurity, China, Executive


Sanger, David, “Obama to Renew Drive for Cuts in Nuclear Arms,” February 10, 2013. New York Times. Last Checked February 25, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/11/us/politics/obama-to-renew-drive-for-cuts-in-nuclear-arms.html

  1. “President Obama will use his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives — drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world — after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third.”
  2. “…White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000. Currently there are about 1,700, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that passed the Senate at the end of 2009 calls for a limit of roughly 1,550 by 2018.”
  3. “Mr. Obama is weighing how to reach an informal agreement with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for mutual cuts… Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, is planning to travel to Russia next month, officials say, to lay the groundwork for those talks. Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin will hold two summit meetings in the early summer.”
  4. “The nuclear reduction plan has been debated inside the administration for two years, and the options have been on Mr. Obama’s desk for months. But the document was left untouched through the presidential election.”
  5. “He was picked up by an open microphone telling Mr. Medvedev that “after my election I have more flexibility” on missile defense, which Republicans said was evidence that he was preparing to trade away elements of the arsenal.”
  6. “But Mr. Obama is already moving quietly, officials acknowledge, to explore whether he can scale back a 10-year, $80 billion program to modernize the country’s weapons laboratories.”

Nuclear, Executive, Russia


MacFarquhar, Neil & Perlez, Jane, “China Looms Over Response to Nuclear Test by North Korea,” February 12, 2013. The New York Times. Last Checked February 14, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test.html?_r=0

  1. “North Korea said it had carried out its third nuclear test.”
  2. “If we had the kind of product listing and focus on financial flows and interdiction on North Korea that we placed on Iran, we would not be in this spot”
  3. “The problem has always been what China will bear in terms of restricting its protégé and neighbor, as well as whether it will cut back fuel shipments and other trade with North Korea.”
  4. “The Chinese military, and to a lesser extent the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party, assert strong influence on China’s Korea policy, and both powerful entities prefer to keep North Korea close at hand”
  5. “At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party looks upon the North Korean Communist Party — led by Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the nation’s founder — as a fraternal brotherhood.”
  6. “The Obama administration excoriated Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, after North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009, accusing him of ‘willful blindness’ to that country’s actions.”
  7. “In the absence of any real leverage, Washington and its allies are left warning Beijing that if it does not keep North Korea out of the nuclear club, it risks an arms race in its own neighborhood.”
  8. “A statement issued by the White House after the conversation included a rare reference to American’s ‘nuclear umbrella’ over South Korea, a reminder to the North that an attack on South Korea would be viewed as an attack on the United States.”
  9. “Now experts say the North may be simply trying to wait the United States out, hoping it will eventually recognize its program as it did Pakistan’s.”

Nuclear, North Korea, China, Executive


Sang-Hun, Choe, “South Korea Shows Military Muscle in Sparring With North,” February 14, 2013, The New York Times. Last Checked February 14, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/world/asia/south-korea-shows-military-muscle.html

  1. “South Korea flexed its military muscle on Thursday by staging large military drills and disclosing a new cruise missile capable of hitting any target in North Korea, as the North became increasingly candid about its intentions to build intercontinental ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.”
  2. “Washington and its allies have condemned North Korea’s launching of a satellite in December and its underground nuclear test on Tuesday as a cover for developing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles capable of reaching North America. But only recently did the North begin publicly indicating that it intended to build such missiles.”
  3. “On Jan. 24, it said that Washington’s hostilities, which it said were behind United Nations sanctions against the country, were forcing it to redirect its rocket and nuclear programs to “target against the U.S.””
  4. “The North’s nuclear test deepened doubts over the effectiveness of the efforts by the United States, China and other regional powers to curb its nuclear and missile ambitions. For its part, North Korea has recently warned that United Nations sanctions would cause it to take “second and third measures of greater intensity” and could even ignite an “all-out war.””
  5. “They are not fighting against our nuclear weapons or satellites but against our sovereignty.”

Nuclear, South Korea, North Korea, Executive


Wan, William, “Report ties cyberattacks on U.S. computers to Chinese military”, February 19, 2013, The Washington Post, World, Asia & Pacific, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/report-ties-100-plus-cyber-attacks-on-us-computers-to-chinese-military/2013/02/19/2700228e-7a6a-11e2-9a75-dab0201670da_story.html Last Checked February 19, 2013.

  1. ”A U.S. security firm has linked China’s military to cyberattacks on more than 140 U.S. and other foreign corporations and entities, according to a report released Tuesday.”
  2. ”The document, first reported by the New York Times, draws on information that Mandiant collected from what the company said was the systematic theft of data from at least 141 organizations over seven years. Mandiant traced the attacks back to a single group it designated “Advanced Persistent Threat 1,” or “APT1,” and now has identified the group as a Chinese military unit within the 2nd Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff Department’s 3rd Department, code named “Unit 61398.””
  3. ”Although most of the targets were U.S. companies, a Mandiant official said APT1 also hit about a dozen entities that he described as smaller U.S. local, state and federal government agencies and international governmental organizations overseas.”
  4. ”Senior U.S. officials, including President Obama, have raised the issue of Chinese cyber attacks on commercial targets over the past year. White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to address the Mandiant report, but he said, “We have repeatedly raised our concerns at highest levels about cybertheft with senior Chinese officials, including the military, and we will continue to do so.””
  5. ”Analysts have long linked the unit to the Chinese military’s 3rd Department, and to extensive cyber-espionage. But what Mandiant has done is connect the dots and add new ones by locating the Internet protocol addresses used in commercial cyberattacks, placing them on a map and linking that information to open-source data about people associated with the unit.”

Cybersecurity, China, Executive


Associated Press, “U.S. Ready to Strike Back Against China Cyberattacks”, February 19, 2013, NPR, News, U.S., Associated Press, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=172369450 Last Checked February 19, 2013.

  1. ”As public evidence mounts that the Chinese military is responsible for stealing massive amounts of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets, the Obama administration is eyeing fines and other trade actions it may take against Beijing or any other country guilty of cyberespionage.”
  2. ”According to officials familiar with the plans, the White House will lay out a new report Wednesday that suggests initial, more-aggressive steps the U.S. would take in response to what top authorities say has been an unrelenting campaign of cyberstealing linked to the Chinese government. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the threatened action.”
  3. ”The White House plans come after a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm released a torrent of details Monday that tied a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai to years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies. After analyzing breaches that compromised more than 140 companies, Mandiant has concluded that they can be linked to the People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398.”
  4. ”Military experts believe the unit is part of the People’s Liberation Army’s cyber-command, which is under the direct authority of the General Staff Department, China’s version of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As such, its activities would be likely to be authorized at the highest levels of China’s military.”
  5. ”Cybersecurity experts say U.S. authorities do not conduct similar attacks or steal data from Chinese companies, but acknowledge that intelligence agencies routinely spy on other countries.”

Cybersecurity, China, Executive


Associated Press, “Energy Department says budget cuts could delay cleanup at highest-risk nuclear sites,” February 28, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked March 2, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/energy-department-says-budget-cuts-could-delay-cleanup-at-highest-risk-nuclear-sites/2013/02/28/8506b20c-8204-11e2-a671-0307392de8de_story.html

  1. “Cleanup of radioactive waste at nuclear sites across the country including one in Washington state where waste tanks may be leaking 1,000 gallons per year would be delayed under automatic spending cuts set to take effect Friday.”
  2. “Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the cuts would delay work at the department’s highest-risk sites…where six tanks are leaking radioactive waste left over from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.”
  3. “Hanford and other Energy Department defense sites where radioactive waste is stored would be forced to suspend or delay cleanup activities and even shut down some facilities.”
  4. “The site, along the Columbia River, holds at least 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste…an estimated 1 million gallons of radioactive liquid already leaked there.”
  5. “The Energy Department is facing an estimated $1.9 billion in spending cuts, including about $400 million for the Office of Environmental Management, which oversees the cleanup at Hanford and other former military sites.”

Nuclear, Public Health, Executive


Associated Press, “Obama, Putin discuss Iran, Syria, set June meeting during G-8 in Northern Ireland,” March 1, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked March 2, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-putin-discuss-iran-syria-set-june-meeting-during-g-8-in-northern-ireland/2013/03/01/6015d7f0-82c9-11e2-a671-0307392de8de_story.html

  1. “President Barack Obama has phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin, welcoming Russian cooperation on international efforts to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
  2. “The White House says Putin and Obama agreed to hold their own meeting in June on the sidelines of the upcoming meeting of leading industrial nations in Northern Ireland.”
  3. “Putin and Obama welcome substantive and constructive consultations.”

Nuclear, Executive, Russia, Northern Ireland


Associated Press, “VP Biden tells Israel lobby Obama isn’t bluffing on promise to prevent Iranian nuclear weapon” March 4, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked March 6, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/vp-biden-says-obama-not-bluffing-when-he-says-us-will-act-to-prevent-iran-nuclear-weapon/2013/03/04/f8fa759c-84e6-11e2-a80b-3edc779b676f_story.html

  1. “Seeking to reassure anxious Israelis and their American supporters, Vice President Joe Biden vowed Monday that the United States won’t back down from its pledge to use military action to thwart Iran’s nuclear program should all other options fail.”
  2. “Biden told a powerful pro-Israel lobby that the U.S. doesn’t want a war with Iran, but that the window for diplomacy is closing. He said prevention, not containment, is the only outcome the U.S. will accept.”
  3. “Biden cautioned more than 13,000 Israel supporters at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference that if Israel or the U.S. acts too hastily, without exhausting every other reasonable option, they could risk losing the backing of the international community.”
  4. “The U.S. and world nations have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial industries in hopes of forcing Tehran back to the negotiating table and persuading it to give up nuclear ambitions.”
  5. “Netanyahu has warned that the world has until this summer — at the latest — to keep Iran from building a bomb, and has repeatedly hinted at Israel’s willingness to launch a military strike to stop it, an endeavor the United States likely would be dragged into.”
  6. “Iran insists that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes such as power generation and medical uses, but the head of the U.N. nuclear agency said this month he cannot guarantee all of Iran’s activities are peaceful unless Tehran increases cooperation.”
  7. “The White House sees Obama’s visit later in March to Israel, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories as an opportunity to reset relations with Netanyahu…and to strengthen ties with Israelis.”

Nuclear, Iran, Executive


Mitchell, Josh, “U.S. Aims to Boost Jet-Part Export“, March 8 2013, The Wall Street Journal, Business, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324034804578348820647679766.html?mod=googlenews_wsj, Last Checked March 8 2013.

  1. “The White House has completed a plan to make it easier for companies to export common parts of fighter jets such as rudders, tires, life rafts, cockpit structures and mirrors.”
  2. “Obama administration officials characterized the parts, outlined in a list sent to Congress this week, as commercial goods that are also used in nondefense products.”
  3. “By fall, makers will no longer need the license to sell to buyers in countries allied with the U.S.  Instead, the products will be subject to a less-stringent review by regulators.”
  4. “The Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group, said it supported the changes, which it said would allow U.S. companies to become more competitive against foreign companies.”
  5. “The changes are the first major steps taken under a plan announced by the Obama administration in 2009 to ease restrictions on certain defense exports while heightening restrictions on others.”

Export Control, Executive


Palmer, Doug, “Obama Pushes Ahead with Export Control Changes“, March 8 2013, Reuters, U.S. Edition, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/08/us-usa-export-controls-idUSBRE92715720130308, Last Checked March 8 2013.

  1. “The Obama administration has notified Congress of plans to modify U.S. weapon and ammunition export controls to make it easier for American companies to export spare parts for aircraft and gas turbine engines, the White House said on Friday.”
  2. “President Barack Obama also issued an executive order changing how export controls on military and certain high-technology goods are administered, the latest step in a reform initiative that dates back to August 2009.”
  3. “”This is the beginning of putting in place the nation’s new export control system,” a senior administration official told reporters on condition he not be identified. “Our current export control system is very complicated … It’s designed to address the Cold War-era and hasn’t been updated since that time.””
  4. “The new rules go into effect in 180 days of being published, unless Congress, which was notified of the changes on Thursday, moves to block them in the next 30 days.”
  5. “Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in April 2010 outlined the administration’s long-term plan to merge two separate government lists that govern exports of weaponry and dual-use technology goods into a single list.”
  6. “A study by the Milken Institute for the National Association of Manufacturers a few years ago estimated that modernizing export controls could boost real U.S. economic output by $64 billion and create 160,000 manufacturing jobs.”

Export Control, Executive, Dual Use






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