FirstNet Budget, IED Removal In Iraq, Chem-Bio Countermeasures

Topics in this issue include FirstNet’s price tag, UXOs in Laos, the future of IED removal in Iraq, and the state of the DoD’s CBRN countermeasure efforts.

Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria May Normalize War Crimes, Experts Warn

There have been dozens of attacks with chlorine gas since Syria officially agreed to give up its weapons stockpile following a 2013 sarin gas assault on a Damascus suburb, rights groups and doctors on the ground said. Experts warned that the frequent use of chemical weapons in Syria risked normalizing war crimes. The Guardian >>

Unexploded Bombs Still a Problem in Laos

Officials in Laos estimate that the country has about 15,000 people who have been injured by unexploded ordnance, also called UXO. The ordnance landed in the countryside, but failed to explode over 40 years ago. They were dropped as part of a secret American bombing campaign during the Vietnam War. VOA >>

The History of Stuxnet: The World’s First True Cyberweapon

On July 16, 1945, the United States detonated a completely new kind of weapon, the atomic bomb, and changed the world forever. Sometime in 2009, someone launched another completely new kind of weapon. Unlike the one detonated in New Mexico more than fifty years earlier, this wasn’t a physical weapon, but a malicious computer program, a virus or malware. But unlike any other malware before it, it was capable of causing real-world, physical damage. Motherboard >>

Report Details DoD Chem/Bio Defense Programs

Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug to be used as a countermeasure against Yersinia pestis, the biological agent that causes bubonic plague. The drug was developed with funding from the Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP). DoD described its research and development activities on defense against chemical and biological threats in a new 2016 annual report to Congress, which was released today under the Freedom of Information Act. Federation of American Scientists >>

DOE Should Assess Circumstances for Using Enhanced Procurement Authority to Manage Risk

As of May 2016, the Secretary of Energy had not used the enhanced procurement authority, and the Department of Energy (DOE) had not developed processes for using the authority, as it had not fully assessed the circumstances under which the authority might be useful. To use the authority, the Secretary must be made aware of a supply chain risk by officials from DOE or its semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Once aware of a risk, the Secretary must make a written determination that using the authority is necessary to protect national security and that less restrictive measures are not reasonably available to reduce the supply chain risk, among other things. GAO >>

The Future of IED Removal in Iraq

In April, we told you how the State Department and Janus Global Operations, a private contractor, were about to start the work to clear the thousands of IEDs and explosives planted by ISIS in Ramadi. Just how bad is the situation in the Iraqi city? “In terms of sheer complexity, by far, it’s probably the one of the most complicated situations we’ve ever seen,” said Gerald Guilbert, deputy director of programs at the State Department’s office of weapons removal and abatement. Defense One >>

Pakistan Taliban Splinter Group Claims Responsibility for Quetta Bombing

Thousands of lawyers boycotted courts across Pakistan Tuesday to protest against one the of the deadliest attacks the country has ever seen. Hours after a prominent lawyer was gunned down in Pakistan, more than 72 people were killed in a bombing at the hospital where his body was taken. CNN >>

A Nuclear-Powered U.S. Military Ice Base Will Resurface as the Arctic Melts

A lot of messy stuff threatens to be exposed as the ice disappears, including some 200,000 liters of diesel fuel, 240,000 liters of sewage and waste water, some toxic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs — and an unknown amount of radioactive coolant, left over from the site’s nuclear generator, according to a new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. War Is Boring >>

The Secret Race to Get Congo’s Ore That Destroyed Hiroshima

At the outset of World War II, when the U.S. launched the extraordinarily secret Manhattan Project, uranium from North America and most of the rest of the world was less than one percent uranium oxide, considered inadequate to build the first atom bombs. But there was one mine in the world where, through a freak of nature, the ore contained up to an unheard of 75% uranium oxide: Shinkolobwe mine in the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. Huffington Post >>

DHS Issues IED Precursor Study Notice

Today the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division posted a brief notice on the CFATS Knowledge Center about a new study that DHS has contracted with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to perform. The Academies will produce a report entitled “Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Chemical Explosive Precursors” as a result of this study. Chemical Facility Security News >>

Nuclear Power Plant? Or Storage Dump for Hot Radioactive Waste?

In addition to generating electricity, US nuclear power plants are now major radioactive waste management operations, storing concentrations of radioactivity that dwarf those generated by the country’s nuclear weapons program. Because the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository remains in limbo, and other permanent storage plans are in their infancy, these wastes are likely to remain in interim storage at commercial reactor sites for the indefinite future. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Seven People Killed in Two Bomb Attacks in South-East Turkey

At least seven civilians have been killed in two separate bomb attacks blamed on Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) militants in south-east Turkey. A regional security force said four were killed on Wednesday in a car bomb attack in the centre of the city of Diyarbakir, and three lost their lives in a near-simultaneous bombing in Kiziltepe in Mardin province to the south. The Guardian >>

When Disaster-Response Apps Fail

When a terrorist struck Nice, France, on 14 July, a new French government app designed to alert people failed. Three hours passed before SAIP, as the app is called, warned people in and around Nice to the danger on the city’s waterfront during Bastille Day festivities. HSNW >>

Syria Conflict: Aleppo ‘Chlorine Gas Attack’ Investigated

The UN is investigating evidence of a toxic gas attack on a rebel-held area of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Rebels said the attack – which reportedly left four people dead and many injured – was carried out by government forces using chlorine gas. BBC >>

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Have Been Destroyed. So, Why Do Chlorine Gas Attacks Persist?

The use of chlorine gas against civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo should be investigated as a “war crime,” a top United Nations diplomat said Thursday. It was a deadly reminder of the persistence of makeshift chemical weapons in Syria despite an international effort to destroy the country’s chemical weapons caches. NY Times >>

Germany Proposes Tougher Measures to Combat Terrorism

The German government proposed a broad range of measures on Thursday to bolster security and combat terrorism, its strongest official response so far to two recent attacks by terrorists pledging loyalty to the Islamic State and a deadly shooting rampage in Munich. NY Times >>

The $47 Billion U.S. Emergency Response Network That’s Already Obsolete

FirstNet was envisioned as a way for police and firefighters to communicate with one another in the wake of 9/11. But four years later, it’s still not up and running. The prize for the most wasteful post-9/11 initiative arguably should go to FirstNet—a whole new agency set up to provide a telecommunications system exclusively for firefighters, police, and other first responders. They would communicate on bandwidth worth billions of dollars in the commercial market but now reserved by the Federal Communications Commission for FirstNet. Defense One >>

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