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Unlike other weapons of mass destruction, biological agents are a diverse grouping of pathogens and toxins derived from organisms that are readily found in nature (except for smallpox) and can proliferate on their own. These biological agents can harm animals, plants and/or humans with potentially devastating impact on public health, agriculture and the food supply chain. Thus, a two-pronged approach of arms control strategies and public health strategies is necessary to prevent and respond to a biological attack.
The Internet and networked computer systems play important roles in personal access to information and services, as well as the operation of critical infrastructure. Networks are used in electrical power grids, nuclear power plants, financial systems, transportation systems, health care systems, identification systems (including the new biometric chips in U.S. passports), and U.S. federal agencies operations and assets.
As noted on the White House web site, "The President's highest priority is to keep the American people safe. He is committed to ensuring the United States is true to our values and ideals while also protecting the American people. The President is committed to securing the homeland against 21st century threats by preventing terrorist attacks and other threats against our homeland, preparing and planning for emergencies, and investing in strong response and recovery capabilities."
Under the last Administration, the Pentagon move forward with plans to deploy missile defense both in the United States and abroad. However, serious questions about the overall capabilities of the system remain, as do concerns about the functionality of interceptors deployed in Eastern Europe, and the Obama administration has put many of these plans on hold.
A related missile issue is the congressional skepticism about requests for funding to study the feasibility of converting portions of the submarine-based nuclear weapons force to conventional warheads under a program known as Conventional Trident Replacement.
Our work on nuclear weapons includes looking at the scientific and technical base at the national laboratories; the post-Cold War, post-9/11 role of nuclear weapons in defending the U.S.; the science and technology needed for verification and compliance measures associated with arms control treaties; and nuclear forensics. Work on nuclear power focuses on three main topics: the proliferation dangers associated with enrichment and reprocessing technologies, the protection of extant supplies of fissile materials, and the safety and security of nuclear reactors.
Given the current trend toward further expansion of nuclear power as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, it is essential to also focus on ways to reduce the associated proliferation risks. In particular, we hope to facilitate ongoing external evaluations of broader debate and discussion of post-Cold War, post-9/11 nuclear policy to help the administration determine the proper nuclear posture;
Space is an important asset to the United States, both commercially and militarily. At present, the U.S. has deployed no weapons in space. However, there is constant pressure to do so pressure which increased following the Chinese anti-satellite test in January 2006. Congress and many U.S. allies have expressed concerns about the impact on commerce of weaponizing space.
Space debris is an issue of major concern; the destruction of a single large satellite in geosynchronous orbit could eventually pollute a major portion of this GEO space.