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Libya’s Chemical Weapons, Re-Purposing Mines into IEDs, Nuclear Weapons at Incirlik

Topics in this issue include radiological-nuclear preparedness, shipping chemical weapons out of Libya, digging up old mines for use in IEDs, and discussions on moving nuclear weapons out of Incirlik AB, Turkey.

Iran Post-Sanctions: Oil Surges, People Still Suffer

It’s been 13 months since Iran struck a nuclear deal with six global powers. Has it led to greater stabilization in the Middle East? Oil output is nearing pre-sanction levels, but Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is under a lot of pressure to improve the standard of living ahead of the May 2017 election. Bloomberg >>

Deadly Louisiana Floods Overwhelm Emergency Response Efforts

State emergency response resources are strained as officials and residents contend with floodwaters reaching areas that have historically been safe from natural disaster. Huffington Post >>

Innovative Approaches to Radiological/Nuclear Preparedness

Legal, regulated radiological sources are more abundant than many realize. Radiological sources in medicine often use cobalt-60, cesium-137, or iridium-192. Major construction sites, research universities, and agricultural sites may also use sources of radiation, such as nuclear gauges, irradiators, and even reactors. In the United States, such sources are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, based on their potential risk to human health if not managed appropriately. Domestic Preparedness >>

Denmark Offers to Ship Chemical Weapons Out of Libya

The Danish government said on Monday it was willing to offer a container vessel, a support ship and 200 staff to an international operation to rid Libya of its chemical weapons arsenal. A maritime operation coordinated by the UN-backed Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would be led by Denmark, but other countries including Finland would also take part, it said. Daily Mail >>

Vacuum Bombs in Syria: The Latest Chapter in a Long History of Atrocity from the Skies

Imagine taking a deep breath then submerging yourself in water. Then imagine having all of the oxygen forced instantaneously from your body. Try to inhale again. But instead of cold water filling your lungs, toxic, flammable particles start killing you from the inside out. The Conversation >>

On Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons: Our Silence is Shaming

There has been evidence of the use of chlorine in chemical weapons, most commonly by the Assad regime but also by Islamic State forces, for at least two years. It is a common, naturally occurring element that is too valuable in everyday life as a water purifier and as a disinfectant (ironically, particularly in hospitals) to be banned. It is not, for example, included in the Chemical Weapons Convention that Syria signed up to after the Ghouta chemical attack, in which sarin gas may have killed as many as 1,000 residents of an outer suburb of Damascus in August 2013. It was after that that the Assad regime destroyed its stockpile of outlawed chemical and biological weapons. The Guardian >>

North African Islamist Terrorists Dig Up Nazi Mines for Use in IEDs

ISIS and its affiliate organization in North Africa have found a new source for munition materials: Digging up old landmines from the Second World War and using them to fashion IEDs for terrorist attacks. Newsweek reports that there are about seventeen million landmines buried in western Egypt and north-east Libya. Homeland Security News Wire >>

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Have the Long-Term Effects Been Exaggerated?

A paper published this week re-analyzes data from the ongoing study of Nagasaki and Hiroshima’s survivors. The author argues that the long-term health effects of the atomic bomb are not as dire as many believe them to be and asks why public perception does not match the facts. MNT >>

What’s Flowing from Your Faucet? Study Finds Firefighting Chemicals in Drinking Water

Using water samples gathered by the EPA, researchers for the new study discovered firefighting foam chemicals popular during firefighter training operations. “During firefighting practice drills, large volumes of these chemicals wash into surface and ground waters and can end up in our drinking water,” Arlene Blum, the study’s co-author from the University of California Berkeley. NFPA >>

Imploding Bubbles Turn Back Time for Nuclear Reactors

Imagine being able to extend the life of an aging nuclear reactor component by simply using water. Enter cavitation peening. Cavitation peening is a process that uses ultra-high pressurized water to produce vapor bubbles that implode and send shock waves into Alloy 600 materials to produce compressive stresses. This technique removes tensile stresses on the material surface and makes them resistant to stress corrosion cracking. A simple solution to a complex problem. Areva >>

Why ISIS Might Regret the Decision to Go Global

For a group like ISIS, the first reason to go global is ideological. The Islamic State claims to champion the world’s Muslims against their enemies, and neither group is confined to Iraq and Syria, or even to the Middle East. Indeed, the process is circular: as ISIS became more threatening, the United States, France, and other countries stepped up their intervention against it. In turn, ISIS had even more reason to strike at them. Brookings >>

These Flintshire Tunnels Housed a Secret Chemical Weapons Factory During World War Two

Tunnels that housed thousands of mustard gas shells during the height of production in the war years will soon be open to the public for the first time. The Rhydymwyn Valley History Society has been given permission to take guided tours through the Valley’s tunnels on just a few days each year. Daily Post >>

Congress Briefed On Possibly Moving Nuclear Weapons from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base

The weapons at Incirlik are the shorter-range variety, and they are mainly valuable to deter potential aggression and demonstrate the US’s commitment to NATO. However, Incirlik is unusual in that Turkey does not own or maintain nuclear-capable aircraft, and Ankara does not allow the US to fly nuclear-capable bombers to that airbase. Business Insider >>

Blowing Up America’s Nuke Policy

President Barack Obama is considering making a “no first use” declaration regarding U.S. nuclear weapons. Under this framework, it would be the policy of the United States not to resort to using nuclear weapons in a potential crisis unless another country did first. This is widely seen as a legacy move in the final months of Obama’s presidency, a way to cement his anti-nuclear reputation in history. U.S. News & World Report >>

US Debated Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Iceland

Newly declassified US documents reveal that during the Cold War, US authorities contemplated deploying nuclear weapons in Iceland without alerting Icelandic authorities. The documents, dating back to 1960, show that US Ambassador to Iceland Tyler Thompson opposed all such plans. He expressed his belief that if Icelanders found out about such a deployment, they might leave NATO. Iceland Review >>

End the First-Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons

Throughout the nuclear age, presidents have allowed their senior commanders to plan for the first use of nuclear weapons. Contingency plans were drawn to initiate first strikes to repel an invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union, defeat China and North Korea, take out chemical and biological weapons and conduct other missions. NY Times >>

Too Late to Counter Missile Proliferation?

Missiles are a critical component of a country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, which is one reason why concern over missile proliferation is widespread among policy experts. Yet, there is no consensus on how to respond to the WMD missile challenge. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

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