DIEGO, CALIFORNIA—As underscored by today’s announcement by Vice President Joe Biden, the Obama Administration has undertaken a historic effort to cut its nuclear
arsenal. The science to do it safely and credibly is ready to go, says a new study presented here today at the annual
meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW).
But the surprising political and diplomatic conundrums involved with
shrinking the U.S. and Russian stockpiles are numerous and formidable.
secret of cutting the U.S. and Russian arsenals—roughly 7200 and 6000
weapons, respectively—is doing it in a way that both sides can trust
that the other is actually reducing its nukes but without revealing
too much information. An American Physical Society panel comprised of
physicists and policy experts and led by former weapons inspector Jay
Davis found no scientific showstoppers to doing so. Scientists have
techniques in hand, for example, to work with explosive materials, confirm
that weapons are destroyed, and scan a weapon without dismantling it
to measure its destructive power. And one of the report’s key recommendations—more
science in these areas—is already coming to fruition, as President Barack
Obama has requested a 10% increase in the National Nuclear Security
Administration’s research budget for this work, up to roughly $350
lacking are the more stringent agreements that would allow scientists
on the Russian and U.S. sides to use the tools they have.