Where do federal government reports go once they’ve been published and (lightly) chewed over by second-tier officials, congressional staffers and think-tank wonks? I picture them being packed into crates and stored in some vast warehouse, like the Ark of the Covenant in the last scene of “Indiana Jones.”
Every now and again, however, some of these reports are worth rescuing from premature burial.
So it is with the “Assessment of Nuclear Monitoring and Verification Technologies,” the soporific title given to a report published last month by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. The report is long on phrases like “adaptable holistic methodologies” and “institutionalized interagency planning processes.” But at its heart it makes three timely and terrifying claims.
First, we are entering a second nuclear age.
Second, the history of nuclear proliferation is no guide to the future.
Third, our ability to detect nuclear breakout—the point at which a regime decides to go for a bomb—is not good.