APS Response to Error in Missile Defense Report

September 20, 2022

For decades, the American Physical Society’s Panel On Public Affairs has conducted in-depth “studies of matters which affect the general welfare to which physics can make important contributions,” including critical issues of national security. In particular, APS has been studying national missile defense for more than 20 years.

In February 2022, POPA published a report detailing the technical challenges of defending the United States against intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from North Korea. The report was reviewed by nine independent experts and approved for publication by the APS Council.

Subsequent to publication, technical errors were identified in one section of the report, on the topic of boost-phase intercept systems. After confirming that there were two errors, APS promptly removed the report from its website and notified key Congressional and Executive Branch staff of the errors. The study committee is currently revising the report. APS has secured an additional expert reviewer who will assess the accuracy of the revised report before it is republished, subject to approval of the Council.

APS regrets that it did not specifically mention the errors in a message that was placed on the APS website at the time the report was taken down. An updated message is now posted. The Society’s top priority then, as now, is the scientific integrity of its publications. APS is committed to republishing the report as soon as it has been deemed scientifically correct and technically sound.