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EU Counterterrorism, Dirty Bomb Myths, Chemical Safety Law

Topics in this issue include protecting vital assets from CBRNE threats, counterterrorism gaps in Europe, U.S. nuclear stockpile numbers and belt-worn radiation detectors.

Here’s How the Marines Are Training to Deal with Dirty Bombs

Should terrorists strike with a radioactive weapon at home or abroad, Marines are set to be some of the first to respond. A chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense team from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit took up specialized training last month in the middle of the Nevada desert to learn how to respond to a “radiological event.” Marine Corps Times >>

CBRNE: Protecting Our Vital Assets

The terrorist threat to critical infrastructure, especially transit systems, has increased with the rise of ISIS. But these targets have long been uppermost for attacks. Apart from aviation, trains and subways are attacked most often; from 1987 to 2003 there were 181 attacks with 467 casualties. CBRNe Portal >>

Terrorists “Stockpiling Explosives in Europe”: EU Security Official

Manuel Navarrete Paniagua, the Head of the European Counter Terrorism Center at Europol, said that terrorist cells in the EU are probably stockpiling explosives for future attacks. Europol said it had foiled 211 terror plots in the last year, but that the threat of similar attacks on the scale of November 2015 Paris attacks and the March 2016 attacks in Brussels in March remained a concern. HSNW >>

Why the Historic Deal to Expand US Chemical Regulation Matters

The US Congress is poised to overhaul the law that governs the introduction and use of chemicals, in one of the most significant changes to the country’s environmental regulation in decades. Critics of the TSCA have long complained that the law effectively ties the EPA’s hands, preventing the agency from examining the safety of known chemicals and making it difficult to ensure that new ones do not pose undue health hazards. Nature >>

U.S. Lawmakers Reach Agreement on Chemical Safety Law

Lawmakers are poised to approve landmark bipartisan legislation to update the 40-year old law that governs commercial substances. After many years of negotiations, the House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill on May 24 that would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Senate is expected to follow suit and send the legislation to the president for signature. The White House says the measure meets the Obama Administration’s principles for reforming TSCA. C&EN >>

Battelle, Boeing, University Partners Seek NNSA Deal to Manage Sandia Labs

Battelle and Boeing have teamed with the Texas A&M University System, the University of Texas System and the University of New Mexico in a joint bid to manage the Energy Department‘s Sandia National Laboratories. GovConWire >>

Not Just War: How Hiroshima Became a War Crime

Fritz Bilfinger spent the Second World War as a liaison of the International Committee of the Red Cross. His job was prevailing upon the Japanese government in Tokyo to respect the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of Allied prisoners of war (POWs). On August 29, 1945, the International Committee of the Red Cross sent him on a fact-finding mission to Hiroshima, where he found a no man’s land “filled with the stench of corpses.” War on the Rocks >>

China to Send Nuclear-Armed Submarines Into Pacific Amid Tensions with U.S.

The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative. Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a maiden patrol, but insist the move is inevitable. The Guardian >>

U.S. Nuclear Force Still Uses Floppy Disks

The US nuclear weapons force still uses a 1970s-era computer system and 8-inch floppy disks; a government report has revealed. The Government Accountability Office said the Pentagon was one of several departments where “legacy systems” urgently needed to be replaced. The report said taxpayers spent $61bn (£41bn) a year on maintaining ageing technologies. BBC News >>

Easing Away from the Nuclear Trigger

As President Obama prepares for his visit to Hiroshima, Japan, this Friday, it is worth asking whether his policies have reduced the risk that nuclear weapons will be used again. He laid out an ambitious agenda for doing so in a soaring speech in Prague at the start of this presidency. US News >>

US Nuclear Stockpile Numbers Published Enroute to Hiroshima

The declassified data shows that the stockpile as of September 2015 included 4,571 warheads. That means the Obama administration so far has reduced the stockpile by 702 warheads (or 13 percent) compared with the last count of the Bush administration. Although this is no small number (other than Russia, no other nuclear-armed state has more than 300 warheads), the reduction constitutes the smallest reduction of the stockpile achieved by any previous post-Cold War. Federation of American Scientists >>

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Handheld or Belt-Worn Radiation Detector

FLIR has launched a new Radiation Guidebook, which provides helpful tips for evaluating and investing in the right tool for a deployment program. FLIR >> and CBRNe World >>

Dirty Bombs – Myth Versus Fact

There have been a LOT of stories about radiological terrorism in the news lately. We heard that ISIS was surveilling Belgian nuclear power plants, that they killed a nuclear worker to steal his identification, and even that they might be using “nuclear” drones to drop radioactive materials from above upon the unsuspecting. What is often missing in these stories is a realistic – that is, a scientifically informed – discussion about how dangerous attacks such as these might actually be. CBRNe Portal >>

Improving Time on Target Using Dry Reagent Technology

A presentation on easy to use dry reagent technology to identify compounds used in home-made explosives (HMEs) made from common household products. HMEs are much cheaper than commercial or military explosives and can be legally obtained or smuggled. Serim >>

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