Federation of American Scientists

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Federation of American Scientists
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Ali Nouri
6 January 1946

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is a 501(c)(3) organization with the stated intent of using science and scientific analysis to attempt to make the world more secure. FAS was founded in 1945 by scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. The Federation of American Scientists also aims to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons that are in use, and prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism. They hope to present high standards for nuclear energy’s safety and security, illuminate government secrecy practices, as well as track and eliminate the global illicit trade of conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. [1] With 100 sponsors, the Federation of American Scientists claims that it promotes a safer and more secure world by developing and advancing solutions to important science and technology security policy problems by educating the public and policy makers, and promoting transparency through research and analysis to maximize impact on policy. FAS projects are organized in three main programs: nuclear security, government secrecy, and biosecurity. FAS played a role in the control of atomic energy and weapons, as well as better international monitoring of atomic activities. [2]

A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations in the US.

Manhattan Project research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs

The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the actual bombs. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; Manhattan gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion. Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than 30 sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Security policy is a definition of what it means to be secure for a system, organization or other entity. For an organization, it addresses the constraints on behavior of its members as well as constraints imposed on adversaries by mechanisms such as doors, locks, keys and walls. For systems, the security policy addresses constraints on functions and flow among them, constraints on access by external systems and adversaries including programs and access to data by people.



FAS logo Federation of American Scientists (logo).gif
FAS logo

FAS was founded as the Federation of Atomic Scientists on November 30, 1945, by a group of scientists and engineers within the Associations of Manhattan Project Scientists, Oak Ridge Scientists, and Los Alamos Scientists. Its early mission was to support the McMahon Act of 1946, educate the public, press, politicians, and policy-makers, and promote international transparency and nuclear disarmament. The group was frustrated with the control of the nation's nuclear arsenal and advocated for public control of the nuclear arsenal. [3] A group of the early members of the Federation of American Scientists went to Washington D.C. and set up there sending letters to representatives in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to request support for their original goal to not support the May-Johnson Bill. [3] The group of scientists were opposed to the fact that, under the proposed May-Johnson Bill, the United States military would have the majority of control over the development and control of atomic weapons. [4] Working with congressmen, they worked to create the bill that brought forth the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). [3] The Atomic Energy Commission oversaw the research into atomic energy and atomic weapons. [3] On January 6, 1946, FAS changed its name to the Federation of American Scientists, but its purpose remained the same—to agitate for the international control of atomic energy and its devotion to peaceful uses, public promotion of science and the freedom and integrity of scientists and scientific research. For this purpose, permanent headquarters were set up in Washington, D.C., and contacts were established with the several branches of government, the United Nations, professional and private organizations, and influential persons.[ citation needed ] The explosion of postwar political activism demonstrated by the group became known as the "scientists' movement" with the basis of being unhappy with the United States' monopoly on nuclear weapons. During this movement, the idea was also established that no defense against an atomic bomb was feasible in the near future. Using these two ideas, the FAS proposed the United States and other technologically advanced nations had to work in unison to create a solution that would not end in complete destruction. [5]

Oak Ridge National Laboratory government research facility in Tennessee, United States

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is an American multiprogram science and technology national laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and administered, managed, and operated by UT–Battelle as a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) under a contract with the DOE, established in 1942 ORNL is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system by size and by annual budget. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville. ORNL's scientific programs focus on materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security.

Los Alamos National Laboratory United States national historic site

Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory initially organized during World War II for the design of nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project. It is located a short distance northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico in the southwestern US.

News media elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news

The news media or news industry are forms of mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public. These include print media, broadcast news, and more recently the Internet.

In 1946, the FAS worked with the Ad Council to broadcast a list of facts regarding the state of the United Nations atomic energy negotiations as well as the American proposal for atomic development. In a rare example of an effort to simply give listeners facts with little to no political or personal bias, the scientists at FAS were able to broadcast this information to the public in hopes of informing the public to be "armed with the facts -- instead of swayed by emotions or prejudices." Throughout the course of trying to give the public information, the FAS attempted to coordinate with PR agencies to better connect with the audience. Most of these plans fell through as the agencies typically did not see eye-to-eye with members of the FAS. Scientists realized the importance of getting their point across, but conveying that to someone who had little to no background knowledge on the subject of atomic energy proved to be a challenge, a challenge that would stick with the FAS for many years. Many scientists from more localized organizations had comments like "We have failed. The people have not understood us or our foreign policy would have changed." [5]

The Advertising Council, commonly known as the Ad Council, is an American nonprofit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations and agencies of the United States government.

By 1948, the Federation had grown to twenty local associations, with 2,500 members, and had been instrumental in the passage of the McMahon Act and the National Science Foundation, and had influenced the American position in the United Nations with regard to international control of atomic energy and disarmament.[ citation needed ]

National Science Foundation United States government agency

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health. With an annual budget of about US$7.8 billion, the NSF funds approximately 24% of all federally supported basic research conducted by the United States' colleges and universities. In some fields, such as mathematics, computer science, economics, and the social sciences, the NSF is the major source of federal backing.

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international co-operation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It was established after World War II, with the aim of preventing future wars, and succeeded the ineffective League of Nations. Its headquarters, which are subject to extraterritoriality, are in Manhattan, New York City, and it has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.

In addition to influencing government policy, it undertook a program of public education on the nature and control of atomic energy through lectures, films, exhibits, and the distribution of literature, coordinating its own activities with that of member organizations through the issue of memorandum, policy statements, information sheets, and newsletters.

Memorandum document

A memorandum is a written message that may be used in a business office. The plural form of the Latin noun memorandum so derived is properly memoranda, but if the word is deemed to have become a word of the English language, the plural memorandums, abbreviated to memos, may be used..

Nearly ninety percent of Manhattan Project personnel were in approval of the FAS. With few comparing the group to a "scientists' lobby." [6]


The mission of FAS is to promote a safer and more secure world by developing and advancing solutions to important science and technology security policy problems by educating the public and policy makers, and promoting transparency through research and analysis to maximize impact on policy. This mission was established early on and was deemed necessary for the federation, as decisions made by the United States during the conception of the FAS were critical in terms of shaping international relations. [7] The FAS wanted the public to become more critical and aware of the government, in order to monitor the decisions that were made to ensure that they matched what the public actually wanted. The FAS would act to inform the public about how destructive the improper use of atomic energy could be and emphasize the need to enforce international control of atomic weapons and energy. [5]


In 1969 the FAS had a rough annual budget of $7,000 and relied on mostly volunteer staff. In 1970 Jeremy J. Stone was selected as president of the organization and was the only staff member for the next 5 years. Due to Stone being the president and only member of the organization he influenced the future and direction of the organization heavily. With an increased budget in the 1990s FAS was able to employ a staff of about a dozen people and expand membership of the organization. [6]

In the mid 1980’s the FAS began relying more heavily on professional staff and analysts, and journalists rather than famous scientists as it did previously in its history. The organization shifted toward public information and transparency in the government and away from secrecy in covert projects and finances. In 2000 Henry C. Kelly, a former senior scientist in the Office of Technology Assessment and science policy adviser in the Clinton administration, became the new president. He further pursued the goals of the program of bolstering science in policy and focusing on using that science to further benefit the public. During his eight-year tenure as president, FAS received significant funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, including a $2.5 million grant for Creative and Effective Institutions. [6]

In a 2002 survey conducted within the FAS found that nearly thirty percent of members were physicists. While the next largest fields represented were medicine, biology, engineering, and chemistry. With the latter four fields making up another sixty one percent of the total member population. Members also received complementary copies of "Secrecy News," an electronic newsletter regarding government secrecy and intelligence. [6]

Funding from the MacArthur Foundation

Federation of American Scientists was awarded $10,586,000 between 1984 and 2017, including 25 grants in International Peace & Security, MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions, and Nuclear Challenges. [8] In 2004 the Federation of American Scientists received their largest grant from the MacArthur Foundation of $2,400,000 in support of everything that they do. [8]

The Chronological List of the Grants that the Federation of American Scientists has received from the MacArthur Foundation (As of April 16, 2019) is as follows:

2018 - The Federation of American Scientists received a grant for $210,000 through the International Peace and Security program. The project title was, "For modifying liability structures and market incentives to give insurance and financial institutions leverage tools to enhance nuclear security." Through this project, the (FAS) will convene a small task force of experts from legal, nuclear, and financial domains to generate and review options for improving nuclear-security-related incentives that apply to insurance companies, banks, and corporations. The task force will seek areas where the law is unsettled or inadequately focused on security risks, and will identify and promote practical steps to address these gaps. This grant is still in use until June 2019. [9]

2017 - The Federation of American Scientists received two grants, one for $1,870,000 and a second grant for $50,000 to continue their efforts to promote stability in the world. The MacArthur Foundation found that their work with Nuclear Arms and the Nuclear Information Project (see below), and their effort to help with the disposal of nuclear material after using it for nuclear energy was helping the stability and safety of the world. [8]

2015 - The Federation of American Scientists received two grants, one for $684,000 and a second grant for $200,000. The MacArthur foundation awarded them these grants because of the Federation of American Scientist's work in regards to Naval use of nuclear energy, specifically in the nuclear reactors found on aircraft carriers and submarines. In addition to the naval nuclear energy, the MacArthur foundation awarded the second grant of $200,000 so that the Federation of American Scientists could independently verify information about the Iran Nuclear Deal. [8]

2014 - The Federation of American Scientists received a $140,000 grant. [8]

2013 - The Federation of American Scientists received a $145,000 grant for their work on the naval propulsion reactors that work with uranium. [8]

2012 - The Federation of American Scientists received a grant for $50,000 through the International Peace and Security program. This grant was to help assist in strategic planning. It lasted for 12 months. [9]

2009 - Received a grant for $25,000. [8]

2009- The Federation of American Scientists received a grant for $250,000 through the International Peace and Security program. This grant was in use for 33 months and was used to assist in finding new approaches to nuclear transparency. [9]

2008 - Received a grant for $300,000 to make information about nuclear weapons available to the public. [8]

2007 - The Federation of American Scientists received a grant for $612,318 through the International Peace and Security program. This grant was in use for 48 months, or four years, and was a final grant used toward a project to strengthen the link between the biological research and security policy communities. [9]

2006 - Received a grant for $590,000 by the Peace and Security Program. [8]

2006 - Received a grant for $500,000 through the International Peace and Security program. This grant was in use for 24 months, and was used toward a project to strengthen the link between the biological research and security policy communities. [9]

2004 - Received grant for $2,500,000 for Creative and Effective Institutions. [8]

Nuclear Security Program

Continuing the FAS tradition of international control of atomic energy and devotion to its peaceful uses, the Nuclear Security Program pursues projects that create a more secure world. The Nuclear Security Program (NSP) includes program work that focuses on reducing the risks of further nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

The NSP has key areas of research in order to promote nuclear security around the world. The program focuses on:

Nuclear Information Project

The Nuclear Information Project is run by Hans M. Kristensen. [11]

Government Secrecy

The Government Secrecy Project works to promote public access to government information and to illuminate the apparatus of government secrecy, including national security classification and declassification policies. The project also publishes previously undisclosed or hard-to-find government documents of public policy interest, as well as resources on intelligence policy.

Legacy programs and projects

Biosecurity Program

The Biosecurity Program concentrates on researching and advocating policies that balance science and security without compromising national security or scientific progress. This includes preventing the misuse of research and promoting the public understanding of the real threats from biological and chemical weapons. The Federation of American Scientists also concentrates on researching and keeping the public informed on genetic engineering and genetic modification as a subset of their biosecurity program. [12] One of their major concerns is resistance that species can develop to certain modifications from genetic resistance or from the use of antibiotics. [12]

The big concerns with biosecurity are accidental biological threats, intentional malicious biological threats, and natural biological threat occurrences. [13] Because of these threats the Virtual Biosecurity Center (VBC) was set up.

The Virtual Biosecurity Center provides and promotes biosecurity information, education, best practices and collaboration. Additionally, VBC offers significant news and events regarding biosecurity, a regularly updated education center and library, a global forum on Bio risks, an online informative policy tool, empowering partnerships among other professional biosecurity communities around the world, scheduled global conferences to raise awareness and develop plans for current and future biosecurity issues, as well as partnerships to tighten the gap between the scientific, public health, intelligence and law enforcement communities. [14]

Learning Technologies Program

The Learning Technologies Program (LTP) focused on ways to use innovative technologies to improve how people teach and learn. The LTP created prototype games and learning tools and assembled collaborative projects consisting of NGOs, design professionals, and community leaders to undertake innovative education initiatives at both the national and local level.

The Project worked to help create learning tools to bring about major gains in learning and training. The major project of the Program is Immune Attack, a fully 3-D game in which high school students discover the inner workings of the body's circulatory and immune systems, as they pilot a tiny drone through the bloodstream to fight microscopic invaders.

See also

Related Research Articles

Nuclear disarmament act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons

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United States Atomic Energy Commission Former agency of the United States federal government

The United States Atomic Energy Commission, commonly known as the AEC, was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by U.S. Congress to foster and control the peacetime development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S. Truman signed the McMahon/Atomic Energy Act on August 1, 1946, transferring the control of atomic energy from military to civilian hands, effective on January 1, 1947. This shift gave the members of the AEC complete control of the plants, laboratories, equipment, and personnel assembled during the war to produce the atomic bomb.

<i>Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists</i> academic journal

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nonprofit organization concerning science and global security issues resulting from accelerating technological advances that have negative consequences for humanity. The Bulletin publishes content at both a free-access website and a bi-monthly, nontechnical academic journal. The organization has been publishing continuously since 1945, when it was founded by former Manhattan Project scientists as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago immediately following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The organization is also the keeper of the internationally recognized Doomsday Clock, the time of which is announced each January.

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs organization

The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is an international organization that brings together scholars and public figures to work toward reducing the danger of armed conflict and to seek solutions to global security threats. It was founded in 1957 by Joseph Rotblat and Bertrand Russell in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, following the release of the Russell–Einstein Manifesto in 1955.

France and weapons of mass destruction

France is one of the five "Nuclear Weapons States" under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but is not known to possess or develop any chemical or biological weapons. France was the fourth country to test an independently developed nuclear weapon in 1960, under the government of Charles de Gaulle. The French military is currently thought to retain a weapons stockpile of around 300 operational (deployed) nuclear warheads, making it the third-largest in the world, speaking in terms of warheads, not megatons. The weapons are part of the national Force de frappe, developed in the late 1950s and 1960s to give France the ability to distance itself from NATO while having a means of nuclear deterrence under sovereign control.

China and weapons of mass destruction

The People's Republic of China has developed and possesses weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and nuclear weapons. The first of China's nuclear weapons tests took place in 1964, and its first hydrogen bomb test occurred in 1967. Tests continued until 1996, when China signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). China has acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1984 and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997.

Israel and weapons of mass destruction

Israel is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment has recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared chemical warfare capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare program. Officially, Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons.

In politics and diplomacy, "dual-use" refers to technology that can be used for both peaceful and military aims.

Atomic Energy Act of 1946 The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (McMahon Act) determined how the United States would control and manage the nuclear technology it had jointly developed with its World War II allies, the United Kingdom and Canada

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Atoms for Peace speech

"Atoms for Peace" was the title of a speech delivered by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953.

I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new – one which I, who have spent so much of my life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use.

That new language is the language of atomic warfare.

Nuclear Threat Initiative

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and philanthropist Ted Turner in the United States, which works to prevent catastrophic attacks and accidents with weapons of mass destruction and disruption – nuclear, biological, radiological, chemical, and cyber.

Nuclear weapons of the United States United States arsenal

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<i>United States v. Progressive, Inc.</i>

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Institute for Science and International Security organization

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Hans M. Kristensen is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. He writes about nuclear weapons policy there; he is coauthor of the Nuclear Notebook column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the World Nuclear Forces appendix in Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's annual SIPRI Yearbook.

M. V. Ramana is a physicist who works at the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and Global Security, both at Princeton University, on the future of nuclear power in the context of climate change and nuclear disarmament. Ramana is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board.


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