Counterterrorism Advisory Board, Cyber Threats to Nuclear Deterrence

CBRNE Particles News ScanTopics in this issue include UXO casualties in 2015, cyber threats to nuclear deterrence, Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act of 2016, and countering weaponized drones.

Besieged Syria Towns Emerge as Crucial Sticking Point in Talks

Through each round of peace talks, the Syrian government has dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held towns, carried out chemical attacks and systematically starved civilians. Rebel groups have lobbed rockets into civilian neighborhoods and surrounded a handful of government-held towns. A legally binding Security Council resolution, which included a call to halt indiscriminate attacks on civilians and a lifting of sieges, has been flouted. NY Times >>

H.R. 4407, Counterterrorism Advisory Board Act of 2016

H.R. 4407 would establish a counterterrorism advisory board in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The board would consist of senior representatives of operational agencies within DHS (such as Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard) and offices in DHS headquarters, including the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The board would meet on a regular basis to coordinate departmental activities to combat terrorism. Congressional Budget Office >>

Known Unknowns: Iraqi WMD, 13 Years Later

John Walcott recently reviewed a 2002 Pentagon memo written by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — one of the many “snowflakes” that fell upon Pentagon staffers. Attached to the memo was a Joint Staff assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program in the form of a seven-slide PowerPoint brief. In the memo, Rumsfeld wrote to Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big.” War on the Rocks >>

A Nuclear Weapon the U.S. Doesn’t Need

For a president who famously advocated for a world without nuclear weapons, Barack Obama has done a lot to keep the U.S. nuclear arsenal intact. That’s not a criticism — it was his promise that was naive, not his policy — but in one respect, his strategy is unnecessarily destabilizing. Bloomberg View >>

Video: All The Nuclear Strategic Bombers In History

Watch this compilation of all the strategic bombers that were outfitted to carry a nuclear weapon. Only 5 nations have possessed aircraft with this capability. YouTube >>

Suicide Attacker Kills 20 in Blast at Police Compound in Afghanistan, Officials Say

A suicide bomber who tried to penetrate the compound of an elite police unit killed 20 officers and wounded 32 other people on Monday, in the bloodiest attack in the capital since the start of the year, officials said. Stars & Stripes >>

Casualties From UXO Drop in 2015

Landmines and other old ordnance killed or injured 111 people in 2015, according to figures from the state-run Cambodian Mine Action Authority, as many as in 2013 but nearly a third less than last year, when casualties jumped to 154 people. The mines, rockets and bombs date back to the decades of war between the government and Khmer Rouge, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, and to a massive bombing campaign by the U.S. that started in the 1960s. Cambodia Daily >>

Hong Kong Dentist Designs Robots to Detect and Clear Mines in Cambodia

A Hong Kong dentist famous for his designs of space exploration tools for international space agencies is now building robots to detect landmines for Cambodia. A series of remote-controlled robotic devices being designed by Dr Ng Tze-chuen can both detect mines and trigger explosions. South China Morning Post >>

Army Testing New Weapons to Combat Weaponized Drones

The U.S. Army is close to selecting a new style of weapon designed to stop an imminent threat of terrorists using drones to fly bombs into military and government facilities. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, commonly known as drones, have become an effective, reliable tool to help commanders gather battlefield intelligence. They have also exploded on the commercial market, flooding toy stores and hobby shops with inexpensive, multi-propeller drones. >>

2nd Ex-Official Gets Probation, Fine in W.Va. Chemical Spill

A former owner of Freedom Industries has been sentenced to three years of probation and a $20,000 fine for a 2014 chemical spill that fouled the drinking water supply of 300,000 West Virginians. Media outlets report Charles Herzing was sentenced Tuesday in Charleston federal court. He’s the second of six former Freedom officials to be sentenced on pollution charges. Seattle Times >>

The Cyber Threat to Nuclear Deterrence

In late 2010, when the Stuxnet worm was reported to have targeted and disabled nuclear enrichment centrifuges in Iran, a proverbial line in the sand was crossed that linked the rising awareness of cyber threats with that of the existing nuclear world. Though it is believed that Stuxnet was intended to slow the proliferation of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, the questions over nuclear stockpile vulnerability and the future role of nuclear deterrence were inevitable. War on the Rocks >>

Confessions of a Chemist: I Make Molecules That Shouldn’t Exist

At drinks parties and dinners, if someone asks what I do for a living, I always say: “Synthetic chemist … I make new molecules … especially those that shouldn’t exist.” People typically respond that they were not very good at chemistry at school – or they enquire about explosions and smells. And there, usually, the conversation ends. The Conversation >>

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