NTI Releases Assessment of New Russian Nuclear Weapon Delivery Systems

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has released the first detailed, exclusively open-source assessment of the five new nuclear weapon systems announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, alongside a new analysis underscoring the need to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) based on the report’s findings.

Authored by Jill Hruby, NTI’s inaugural Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow and a former director of Sandia National Laboratories, the report, Russia’s New Nuclear Weapon Delivery Systems: An Open-Source Technical Review, provides insight into the technical characteristics, deployment schedule, and military objectives for each of the five systems, plus one additional system that may be nuclear capable in the future.

An accompanying analysis, Russia’s New Nuclear Weapon Delivery Systems: Implications for New START, Future Arms Control, and Strategic Stabilityby NTI experts Mark Melamed and Lynn Rusten, draws on Hruby’s technical assessment. The paper concludes that “extending New START would ensure that significant new Russian systems would be subject to limits and verification and would provide a forum for discussing the other strategic systems that are further away in time from deployment.” 

ENCIRCLE Project Poll

As part of the European Commission project ENCIRCLE we are currently going through the CBRNe needs and gaps prioritisation process which will be an input for the CBRN topics for the H2020 Security Call next year and would like to encourage our European readers to provide your views.

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SIGA Announces Canadian Release of the Advanced Contract Award Notice to Support Regulatory Filing for Oral TPOXX

SIGA Technologies, Inc. today announced that the Canadian Department of National Defence (CDND) has issued an advanced contract award notice (ACAN), indicating that it intends to award a contract to fund regulatory filing with Health Canada for approval of oral TPOXX®.  The ACAN is required to remain open for approximately 15 days, during which time a potential alternative supplier who meets the ACAN requirements for a smallpox anti-viral therapy that has been approved by national regulatory authority may submit a competing Statement of Capabilities. SIGA is the only company currently able to fulfill this requirement.

“The ACAN represents an important first step by the Canadian military, to ultimately provide TPOXX as a medical countermeasure for smallpox. In the past, Canada has pursued initial procurement of medical countermeasures prior to full regulatory approval and pursuant to emergency use authorization as a strategy for protecting its citizens from potential bio-threats, with additional, larger procurements typically following such approval,” said Dr. Phil Gomez, CEO of SIGA Technologies. “As a result, this ACAN is an important first step in Canada’s efforts to enhance its smallpox preparedness with an anti-viral product. We are pleased that the CDND has identified TPOXX as the only smallpox treatment qualified to fulfill its requirements. We look forward to working with the appropriate Canadian authorities on the next steps in preparation of a regulatory filing for oral TPOXX, which is initially targeted for 2020, and ultimate delivery of this important smallpox antiviral therapy to help protect the people of Canada.”

The ACAN notice can be found at: https://buyandsell.gc.ca/procurement-data/tender-notice/PW-19-00896089.

A Continuing Resolution Could Hurt America's Nuclear Weapons Modernization

A long-term continuing resolution (a type of appropriations legislation) will result in delays for modernizing America’s nuclear warheads, while putting at risk an already challenging plan to build plutonium pits needed for the next generation of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear officials are warning.

The NNSA is a semiautonomous agency under the DOE that handles the manufacturing and maintenance of America’s nuclear warheads. Like other government agencies, NNSA would be limited to fiscal 2019 funding limits under a continuing resolution, and would be unable to start new contracts. The current continuing resolution (CR) is set to end Nov. 21, but there is little expectation that regular budgeting will then resume. Congress is debating the merits of pushing the continuing resolution through December, but analysts are concerned it could extend into next year.

“We are in a situation right now where we have single-point failures throughout our enterprise,” Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the NNSA administrator, said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast earlier this month. “It’s necessary for us, for the NNSA and for the nuclear security enterprise to receive consistent and robust funding to modernize our infrastructure as well as continue ongoing operations.”

“We’re looking at where we can move funding insofar as CRs will allow us to do so,” she added. “We’re working very closely with OMB and the administration to see what we can do to continue our important programs to modernize the infrastructure as well as the stockpile and our workforce initiatives and our endeavors.”

According to an NNSA source, the agency has identified three main areas of concern under a longer CR. The first is keeping the warhead modernization efforts on schedule. Two of those modernization programs — the B61-12 gravity bomb and W88 submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead — already face program delays thanks to an issue with a commercial part that has to be redesigned.

The second is the surplus plutonium disposition program, which is supposed to dispose of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium at a South Carolina facility. That program emerged as the successor to the controversial MOX program, and has faced opposition from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Construction on that facility could be delayed under a CR.

The third is a 10-year plan to develop a native plutonium pit in the United States. The NNSA has been charged with producing 80 plutonium pits a year by 2030, a target that Gordon-Hagerty acknowledged is a tight window for the agency to hit, even with stable funding.


Pentagon Presses for Access to Special EU Defense Projects

David Norquist, the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary, has said that American Defense firms should not be cut out of European Union programs to strengthen its industrial base, such as the European Defence Fund and the Permanent Structured Cooperation program. 

Speaking at the NATO-Industry Forum in Washington, Norquist said the European Defence Fund ― which commands a €13 billion (U.S. $14 billion) pool of money ― and PESCO ― a 2-year-old initiative to foster inter-European cooperation ― “must allow the United States and other non-EU allies to participate and compete for business,” or risk duplication that undermines trans-Atlantic security.

Norquist’s remarks serve as the latest pushback from Washington concerning draft rules that would restrict non-European countries from the bloc’s programs. Norquist said the U.S. has engaged with the European Commission, the EU’s politically independent executive arm, in an effort "to allow our participation to continue.”

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