VIII. ACDA's External Research

External Research and Special Project Programs

ACDA funds external research projects that support national security through arms control and nonproliferation. Projects proposed by Bureaus and Offices are evaluated and prioritized for their contribution to the Agency's mission and their cost effectiveness by the ACDA Research and Special Projects Board. This competitive process ensures that scarce arms control and nonproliferation research funds are directed toward high-quality, high-impact projects with maximum value to ACDA's customers.

ACDA uses the External Research and Special Projects Programs to fund projects that directly support time-sensitive ongoing negotiating efforts. Special attention is paid to opportunities to stretch research dollars through cooperative funding arrangements with larger research organizations including those within the Departments of Energy and Defense.

Typical of the nature and scope of research, analyses and studies conducted by ACDA in FY97 are:

  • Outreach efforts consisting of guest speakers and mailing CWC information materials for the chemical industry, explaining their rights and obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The CWC requires the declaration of certain chemicals and inspection of selected declared sites. These outreach efforts explain to U.S. industry how the CWC would affect them.

  • Support for CWC implementation in the form of procedures handbooks for processing CWC data declarations, and host team training in conjunction with the Departments of Commerce and Defense.

  • The National Science Foundation sponsored a seismic array in the Khirgiz Republic. This project is intended to study the value of such independent arrays in support of the CTBT monitoring effort. This work was done by the University of Colorado.

  • The U.S. National Technical Means has had difficulty in characterizing the seismic events in North Korea, to decide whether any were nuclear tests. This project used data from the Chinese mainland to provide another azimuth for studying these seismic events. This effort will allow a better resolution of the signals from each event.

  • Discrimination of small explosions from small earthquakes uses data taken at regional or short distances between the event and the seismic station. The geologic variation of the earth's crust causes varied changes in the seismic signals and thus calibration of each geographic region is desirable. Kamchatka was chosen because of its high seismicity and the resultant difficulty in resolving seismic waves in the region.

  • Iran is complex in its crustal geology and therefore the proper interpretation of seismic waves originating in the country is correspondingly difficult. Not only is it difficult to discriminate explosions from earthquakes, but it is difficult to obtain accurate locations for seismic events. The seismic calibration of Iran is therefore desirable in order that more effective monitoring of the region can be accomplished.

  • The Test Ban Treaty requires each Party to be prepared to answer questions regarding monitoring data originating in its territory. It is therefore desirable to develop a framework or geographic database which will provide information regarding activities in that country such as mining activity and other uses of explosives. This effort by the U.S. Geological Survey will be a valuable tool in the process of answering inquiries about activities of concern in the United States.

  • Research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is exploring the use of sensitive measurements of isotope ratios in graphite that has been exposed to neutrons to obtain information about the operating history of the reactor. This method, sometimes called "nuclear archaeology," could prove useful as an aid in verifying declarations of the amounts of plutonium produced in graphite moderated reactors, the type most commonly used for plutonium production.

  • ACDA leads the interagency process for the negotiation of future strategic arms control. In preparation for future negotiations beyond the START III framework, ACDA is sponsoring research to analyze force structures and appropriate strategies for further reductions in deployed strategic warheads.

  • ACDA believes that leading-edge technology could play a prominent role in monitoring future arms control agreements. ACDA is sponsoring research to analyze how advanced sensors could be made an integral part of an intrusive monitoring regime for future agreements.

Coordinating Federal Nonproliferation and Arms Control Technology R&D

ACDA co-chairs, along with the Departments of Energy and Defense, the Nonproliferation and Arms Control Technology Working Group (NPAC TWG), and serves as the NPAC TWG Executive Secretary. The NPAC TWG was created by Presidential Decision Directive (PDD-27) to enhance the United States effort to pursue a robust and focused science and technology strategy that applies technical knowledge to the development of effective arms restraints, continually improves detection, monitoring and verification capabilities, and uses science and technology cooperation across the government to advance U.S. arms reduction and nonproliferation goals.

Through the active participation of over 30 government organizations, the NPAC TWG ensures effective coordination of R&D in the areas of arms control and nonproliferation, guards against redundant programs, and identifies technological gaps and proposals to address them, thus contributing to effective stewardship of national science and technology resources.

Now in its fourth year of operation, the NPAC TWG coordinates over 500 technology R&D programs that contribute or are directly related to nonproliferation and arms control, representing an approximately $2.7 billion annual investment.

Reporting equally to the relevant NSC policy IWGs and the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on National Security (CNS), the NPAC TWG is chartered to:

  • exchange information and coordinate federal arms control and nonproliferation R&D;

  • advise agencies on nonproliferation and arms control priorities;

  • facilitate conduct of cooperative interagency programs;

  • identify overlaps and gaps in R&D programs;

  • advise policy IWGs on R&D capabilities and limitations; and,

  • make recommendations to the CNS on coordination of all nonproliferation and arms control R&D programs in the President's budget submission to Congress.

The NPAC TWG pursues its mandate through the efforts of 13 focus groups organized by technology, functional, or treaty area, and one subcommittee that identifies and coordinates current and future NPAC technology needs. These groups draw on the regular and frequent participation of over 100 government R&D program managers. The number and missions of the focus groups remains flexible. The current focus groups include:

  • Active Electro-Optics

  • Chemical Weapons Detection

  • Biological Weapons Detection

  • Fieldable Nuclear Detectors

  • Nuclear Test Monitoring

  • Fissile Material Monitoring

  • Spectral Sensing

  • Unattended Remote Sensors

  • Proliferation Modeling

  • Ballistic Missile Monitoring

  • Underground Facilities Detection

  • R&D Database Development

  • Landmine Detection and Identification

NPAC TWG focus group members have the opportunity, and even the obligation to look beyond their individual agency and programmatic missions. Identifying gaps and unnecessary overlaps, aligning programs to best complement each other, and entering into collaborative projects are essential actions for agencies to use their limited R&D resources to greatest advantage.

The Technology Needs Subcommittee (TNS) promotes information flow among the policy, user, and developer communities, thus adding cohesiveness to how we use technology to respond to arms control and nonproliferation challenges. Internally, the TNS scans across focus group "stovepipes" to identify common technology issues where programmatic enhancements could achieve cross-discipline or multi-agency advantages.

Through its coordination efforts the NPAC TWG strives to assure agencies, Congress, and ultimately the American public that we are getting the most out of our investment. The NPAC TWG also provides meaningful technology and budget crosscuts for policy and acquisition decision makers, and continually extends its reach through the federal R&D community and to the public in general. Examples of NPAC TWG impacts include:

  • Interactions fostered by the NPAC TWG have improved many R&D programs. One such example is given by the Proliferation Modeling focus group, whose decision to install many prototype proliferation models on analyst workstations created a cadre of early "beta testers" who have provided valuable feedback to the respective model developers.

  • Lidar system development provides an example of interagency resource leveraging. The Department of Energy and the Air Force Phillips Laboratory signed a Memorandum of Agreement to work together on system development of a carbon dioxide laser-based differential absorption lidar. One outgrowth of the agreement was collaboration among Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Army's Edgewood Research and Development Center, and the Phillips Laboratory on the Nonproliferation Airborne Lidar Experiment (N-ABLE) in fiscal years 1996 and 1997. This successful experiment, executed by a highly integrated team of scientists, made efficient use of each participating organization's expertise and resources through a judicious division of labor.

  • The Technology Needs Subcommittee has been effective at raising awareness across government of the impact of budget reductions and changing priorities on basic research and phenomenology, transitioning and training for new technologies entering operational use, and operations and maintenance of key capabilities. Many of these issues represent multi-agency needs that cannot be adequately supported through individual agency budgets.

  • As part of its obligation to keep the public informed on nonproliferation and arms control matters, ACDA, through its chairmanship of the R&D Database Development focus group, developed the NPAC TWG home page on the internet. To ensure that federal NPAC R&D interests are accessible to industry and university technology researchers, the NPAC TWG is collaborating with DoD's web-based Technology Navigator to develop a means for information on technology R&D products and studies to be submitted and routed to NPAC TWG focus groups through a browseable/searchable database.

  • The NPAC TWG annual symposium in October allows the federal R&D community and federal contractors to take stock of the challenges and progress on nonproliferation and arms control technology issues, develop new collaborative relationships through networking, and share detailed technical information on individual R&D programs.

  • The NPAC TWG annual report to the CNS, the report of the Technology Needs Subcommittee, and the focus group reports represent the only source of detailed interagency budget crosscuts in nonproliferation and arms control research and development. These crosscuts allow OSTP to effectively assess and articulate how the total program meets the President's goals in this area, and to actively support those participating programs with the Office of Management and Budget and Congress in the budget process.

Since its inception in 1994, the NPAC TWG has evolved into a highly credible vehicle for coordinating a key element of our national security science and technology strategy. By vectoring the diverse technical resources of individual agencies toward applications that transcend the mission of any single agency, the NPAC TWG puts forward an objective, dispassionate consensus of the R&D community, and ensures the immense technological engine of the federal R&D system is appropriately directed toward our nonproliferation and arms control goals.