Federation of American Scientists

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The Federation of American Scientists was based in Washington, D.C. and founded as the Federation of Atomic Scientists in 1945 by scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs.[1]


The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) was founded in 1945 by scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. These scientists recognized that science had become central to many key public policy questions. They believed that scientists had a unique responsibility to both warn the public and policy leaders of potential dangers from scientific and technical advances and to show how good policy could increase the benefits of new scientific knowledge.

Hans Bethe, was one of the founders of FAS.[2] Leo Szilard, Philip Morrison, Richard L. Meier and Harold Urey[3] were others.

FAS was founded from the merger of thirteen smaller groups. It started with a membership of more than 2,000 scientists and an advisory panel that included Robert Oppenheimer, Harold Urey, Harlow Shapley, Smyth, Leo Szilard and Edward U. Condon.[4]


FAS has a 24-member national council which selects nine candidates of which members elect six for annual council openings. Officers include Frank von Hippel, chairman; John Holdren, vice chairman; George A. Silver, secretary; Robert Solow, treasurer; Jeremy Stone, director.

FAS membership is overwhelmingly not composed of nuclear specialists, and admits its 5,000 members are "natural and social scientists and engineers concerned with problems of science and society." FAS concern for the "public interest" includes opposing U.S. civil defense while asserting "nuclear war is national suicide." FAS defined its "primary goal" early in 1981 as "making sure that the body politic and the [Reagan] Administration in particular, are under no illusions on this score." FAS has a mailing list of 5,000 and publishes a monthly newsletter, In the Public Interest.

In October 1981 FAS began promoting a petition drive complimentary to the Nuclear Freeze Campaign.[1]

First victory

In the late fall of 1945, as Congress began to deliberate about May-Johnson, dozens of scientists came to Washington, D.C. to fight for full civilian control of atomic weapons. Most of them had been part of local discussion groups; now they formed themselves into a national organization called the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). The group rented a one-room walk-up near the Capitol, equipped it with a single typewriter, made appointments with Senators and Representatives, sent fact-sheets to committees, and started talking to reporters. One of the leaders, Nobel laureate Harold Urey, called May-Johnson "the first totalitarian bill ever written by Congress. You can call it a Communist bill or a Nazi bill, whichever you think is worse."

They offered an alternative: Working with a Democratic Senator named McMahon they sponsored a bill calling for the creation of a purely civilian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to oversee further research, led by a panel appointed by the president, with a civilian administrator and safeguards for independent research. The military was to have no representation. Control was to rest solely with civilians. The debate between the May-Johnson proponents and the McMahon backers continued into 1946, with the FAS working to make sure McMahon passed. To the amazement of many observers, they won. In July 1946, after the language in McMahon was softened to allow some military input, Congress rejected May-Johnson, passed the McMahon Bill, created the AEC, and handed the scientists a great and surprising victory.[5]

Accusation of communist infiltration

In October 20, 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy placed a statement in the Congressional Record charging that the Federation of American Scientists was "heavily infiltrated with communist fellow travelers."[6]

President Stone

Jeremy Stone was the president of the Federation of American Scientists from 1970 to 2000.where he "led that organization's advocacy initiatives in arms control, human rights, and foreign policy". In 2000, he was succeeded as president by Dr. Henry Kelly. Stone continued his work at a new organization called Catalytic Diplomacy. Stone is the son of the journalist and confirmed Soviet agent I.F. Stone.

In 1995 the FAS presented Jeremy Stone, its chief executive officer, with its Public Service Award on his 25th year of service, calling him the "head and heart of FAS for its second quarter century." Upon announcement of his intention to step down in 1999, the FAS commented,

"In 1970, Jeremy took over the management of an organization that was losing its vitality and revived it. He increased its membership to record levels, recruited a distinguished list of sponsors, and recruited and retained an excellent staff. For these three decades, he has provided the energy to drive the organization and the critical leadership to steer it. He shaped and harmonized the ideas of its officers and active membership, often on ideas he himself had generated. His long tenure made him the dean of public interest organizations in our field. Through creative methods of fund-raising, he went well beyond maintaining the organization; he is leaving it with substantial assets that provide the capability to initiate and support important projects that cannot be immediately funded.
Beyond expanding and administering the organization, Jeremy has made significant contributions to peace and security in arms control treaty-making on ABM and nuclear weapons reductions, in improving relations between the United States and Russia and China, in human rights and in international scientific exchange.
We welcome his intention to continue to work under the rubric of Catalytic Diplomacy, and expect that he will find useful collaborations with FAS and other like-minded organizations in pursuing common goals."[7]


National Council

The following were members of the National Council of the Federation as at Nov. 1972:[8]

As at June 1988, the following were members of the National Council:[9]

Board of Directors

As at Nov. 1972, Dr. Marvin L. Goldberger served as Chairman of the Board.[8]

As at June 1988, the following were members of the Board:[9]

As at March 10, 2010, the following served on the Board of Directors:[10]


As at Nov. 1972, Dr. Jeremy J. Stone served as Director of the Federation.[8]

The following were staff members as at March 10, 2010:[11]

Board of Sponsors

The following were listed on the Board of Sponsors as at Nov. 1972:[8]

As at June 1988, the following were sponsors of the Federation:[9]

The following were listed on the Board of Sponsors as at March 10, 2010.[12] Nobel Laureates are marked with a *

The Federation of American Scientists Fund


In Nov. 1972, an insert in that month's edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated that the FAS was launching the Federation of American Scientists Fund. The fund would be a non-profit, tax-exempt, publicly funded organization with the purpose of expanding the educational and scientific work in which the Federation had been engaged since 1946. On the insert the Fund's purpose is stated,

"The FAS Fund seeks philanthropy that will support educational activities in the areas of world peace, environment science policy, public health, and both the improvement of relations and exchange of information between scientists."[8]

The FAS Fund trustees as at Nov. 1972 were:

60th Anniversary Conference

In 2008 the FAS hosted a public conference to celebrate its 60th Anniversary. The meeting included two debates. One focusing on a proposal for international control of nuclear materials advocated by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Laureate Mohammed ElBaradei. The second panel explored whether development of nuclear weapons should remain under the civilian control of the Department of Energy or be moved to the Department of Defense. The latter event, Rethinking Civilian Control Over Nuclear Weapons Development and the International Fuel Cycle featured talks by:[13]


The FAS has received funding from the following individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies:


The FAS grants two different awards each year, the FAS Public Service Award (since 1971), and the FAS Hans A. Bethe Award, since 2003.

FAS Public Service Award

Since 1971, the FAS has recognized an outstanding statesman or public interest advocate who they believe has made a distinctive contribution to public policy at the intersection of science and national security. The following is a list of recipients to date:[14]

FAS Hans A. Bethe Award

In 2003, the FAS inaugurated the Hans A. Bethe Award. Hans Bethe had helped found the FAS with the belief that scientists had an obligation to participate in the difficult choices that were forced on our country by the extraordinary advances in nuclear physics so vividly demonstrated by the development and use of atomic weapons. In the sixty years since the founding of the organization, the range and complexity of issues hinging on sound scientific advice has increased. The following is a list of recipients to date:[14]

  • 2003 Philip Morrison, "for his unfailing ethical compass to America’s most critical decisions"
  • 2005 Steve Fetter, "In recognition of his outstanding contributions as an advocate for arms control and nonproliferation, and for his insightful and rigorous analyses of nuclear energy climate change and of carbon-free energy supply"
  • 2007 Matt Bunn, "In recognition of his work to understand and promote the global control of dangerous nuclear materials and to stop the spread of nuclear weapons"
  • 2008 Raymond Jeanloz, "For his demonstration of the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the presence of a moratorium on nuclear testing"