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Waiting for FirstNet, Obama Visit to Hiroshima, Cooperative Threat Reduction

Topics in this issue include First Net timelines, West Fertilizer Company explosion, Obama visit to Hiroshima, and the Cooperative Threat Reduction program.

Obama to Visit Hiroshima, Will Not Apologize for World War Two Bombing

Barack Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in Japan later this month, but he will not apologize for the United States’ dropping of an atomic bomb on the city at the end of World War Two, the White House said on Tuesday. The visit comes as part of a May 21-28 swing through Asia, which will include a Group of Seven summit in Japan and his first trip to Vietnam. Reuters >>

ATF Announces Cause of West Fertilizer Company Explosion, Reflects Lessons Learned

On Wednesday, the Houston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Texas State Fire Marshal Office announced that the fire which caused a massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas was intentionally set. The 2013 fire and subsequent explosion killed 15 people, including 10 firefighters and two volunteers who were helping to combat the initial blaze, and three members of the public. NFPA >>

First Responders: We Can’t Wait for FirstNet

Plans for a broadband network exclusively for first responders are progressing, but not fast enough, some say. FirstNet, the public-private partnership running the effort, is collecting proposals now and could take years to stand up the network. Nextgov >>

Russia Used a Video Game to ‘Prove’ Chemical Weapons Claims

The Russian government just made a claim about chemical weapons in Syria—and used some graphics from an old video game to help make its argument. “Several trucks with improvised munitions fitted with chemical warfare agents based on chlorine have arrived in northern territories of Aleppo, which had been controlled by Jabhat Al Nusra terrorists, from the Idlib province,” the Russian defense ministry reported on May 11. Daily Beast >>

Russia Says US Missile System Breaches Nuclear INF Treaty

Russia’s foreign ministry says US activation of a European missile defense shield in Romania, scheduled for Thursday, violates a treaty on nuclear forces. A ministry statement quoted by Interfax news agency said it was a breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987. BBC >>

Experts Debate Need for National Hurricane Center App to Track Hurricanes

With the start of hurricane season less than a month away, weather experts are wondering why the National Hurricane Center does not have a smartphone app that can track a storm’s progress or monitor forecasts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the National Hurricane Center, suggested that the public use a weather radio for those purposes, according to a Palm Beach Post article that also ran in Emergency Management on Wednesday. Fierce Government IT >>

Sustaining the Nuclear Watchdog with a Grand Budgetary Bargain

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake struck the east coast of Japan. Fifty-six minutes later the seismic safety experts at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that the event, and its accompanying tsunami, could damage nuclear power plants in the region. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

The FirstNet Experience: Ohio’s Video Game Virtually Demonstrates Network’s Potential

The OhioFirst.Net program has developed a unique way for people to experience the potential of the FirstNet network – a video game that allows users to virtually see the increased situational awareness the nationwide public safety broadband network will provide to first responders. The organization will debut the game next week at APCO’s Public Safety Broadband Summit in Washington, DC. FirstNet >>

Residents Near New Mexico Nuclear Test Site Seek Obama Visit

Residents of a historic Hispanic village near the site where the U.S. government tested the first atomic bomb have praised President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Hiroshima — the Japanese city devastated by the first a-bomb used in war. The residents, however, also want Obama to visit their village of Tularosa. ABC News >>

Fire Service-Based EMS Advocates Recognize National EMS Week

Sunday May 15, 2016 marks the beginning of National EMS Week and presents an opportunity to honor the men and women who deliver pre-hospital 9-1-1 emergency medical care throughout the United States. This vital public safety service is provided primarily by cross-trained, multi-role emergency responders who are based in our nation’s fire departments. Everyone Goes Home >>

Kremlin Angered as US Switches on Missile Shield in Romania

The US has switched on a missile shield in Romania that it sees as vital to defending itself and Europe from long-range missiles fired by rogue states, prompting anger from the Kremlin which believes the shield’s main goal is to weaken its own strategic nuclear capabilities. The Guardian >>

Radioactive Isotope Found, Columbus Ohio Hazmat Responds

HMN- Columbus Division of Fire responds to what was described as a box labeled “radioactive” and “hazardous materials”. The investigation was being conducted by the Fire Department based EOD team and Law Enforcement. Are you ready for this call? How will your department respond to potential radioisotope emergency? Do you train on RAD and how often? Things that make you go ….? Hazmat Nation >>

Summits End; Nonproliferation Challenges Don’t

In late March, just as representatives to the final Nuclear Security Summit were converging on Washington, Donald Trump was revealing to The New York Times his cavalier and irresponsible attitudes toward nuclear proliferation. Just last week, Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for president. So perhaps now more than ever, it’s important to impress on both publics and governments the indispensability of concrete nonproliferation action. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Hiroshima Survivors Welcome Barack Obama Visit

Survivors of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima have welcomed Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to the city, while media reports claimed Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was considering a reciprocal trip to Pearl Harbor. The Guardian >>

Cooperative Threat Reduction Program — You Want To Do WHAT for the Soviet Union?

Twenty-five years ago, amid the chaos that surrounded the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, two senators — a Republican and a Democrat — established an unlikely program whose goal was to safeguard the crumbling empire’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. Armed with Science >>

The Case for Nuclear Consultation with NATO

NATO members are preparing for their Warsaw summit in July, where they will try to recalibrate the alliance’s position vis-à-vis an assertive and increasingly confident Russia that continues its military provocations, nuclear messaging, and nuclear modernization. The allies must find answers to a perennial question: How can non-nuclear states in extended deterrence relationships be assured of the credibility of American commitments to protect them? War on the Rocks >>

Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima Raises Scrutiny of U.S. Arsenal

“The plan to rebuild and refurbish every weapon that we have basically sort of throws the gauntlet down, and Russia and China feel like they have to match it,” Gronlund said Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program. “He has said really great things but his actions have not really been consistent with his words.” Bloomberg >>

Who Will Run Sandia Labs?

Competition for Sandia National Laboratories’ multibillion-dollar management contract is about to move into high gear. The National Nuclear Security Administration is expected to issue its final request for proposals to run the sprawling nuclear weapons and research lab in Albuquerque any day now, and corporate and institutional jostling for the $2.9 billion management contract is likely to be fierce. Albuquerque Journal >>

Will Pakistan Now Seek Nuclear Submarines?

Pakistan’s pursuit of assured nuclear second strike capability from land, air and sea has been a cornerstone strategic policy. While its land-based strike forces are expansive (via ballistic missiles of varying ranges of up to 2750km), its air and sea-based deterrence capabilities are only beginning to form in earnest. The availability of lightweight plutonium warheads has made it possible for the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy to deliver a nuclear strike using cruise missiles, which in turn can be delivered using aircraft as well as conventional attack submarines. Quwa >>

During the Cold War, the Air Force Dropped an Unarmed Nuke on South Carolina

On March 11, 1958, a B-47 Stratojet bomber was cruising at around 15,000 feet in the sky above South Carolina. Its crew was just getting ready to begin their transatlantic trip from Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah, Georgia, to the United Kingdom as part of a mission called “Operation Snow Flurry.” Smithsonian >>

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