WASHINGTON — A new U.S.-Russian deal made public on Thursday paves the way for the former Cold War rivals to bring their nuclear-arms communications into the digital age.
The accord signed this month updates a 1987 pact, which established an arms-control-communication office in each country, so that it now allows updates to certain communications equipment at the offices. The two “Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers” — located at the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow and the U.S. State Department in Washington — have conducted routine data swaps required under more than a dozen treaties, but they provide a means of communication that could be important for use during any high-stakes nuclear crisis.
“The Cold War is now long over, but thousands of nuclear weapons remain, and we both recognize a responsibility to do everything possible to keep each other appraised of important developments in order to avoid misunderstandings and potentially catastrophic consequences,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at an Oct. 7 news conference, after signing the new arrangement with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The State Department on Thursday released the text of the revised agreement, which still bears the initial title “Agreement Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Establishment of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers.”
“Basically the old agreement was an encrypted line able to send faxes,” said Matthew Bunn, an associate professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who served as a nuclear security adviser to the Clinton administration.
“The new agreement is an encrypted line for full digital communications, text, images, etc.,” Bunn told Global Security Newswire over e-mail. “It’s basically bringing it into the modern age.”
This month’s agreement strikes from the previous one references to floppy disks and low-bandwidth communications lines. Now it grants the sides more flexibility in determining how fast their computers can trade secured “text and graphics files,” according to its text.
The deal also allows the countries to rely in part on “commercial communications channels” for their data transmissions.
However, the pact does not fully entrust nuclear-arms recordkeeping to digital technology. Specifically, it states that “a printer shall be used” by each country to produce hard copies of exchanged materials.
To date, the U.S. and Russian nuclear centers have completed more than 5,000 “day-to-day” information swaps under the New START treaty, Rose Gottemoeller, acting under secretary of State for arms control and international security, noted in a speech earlier this month.
What We're Following See More »
Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."
Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."