Maritime Nuclear Smuggling, Countering Narco-Terrorism, Replacing Helium-3

Topics in this issue include maritime nuclear smuggling, countering narco-terrorism, and suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia.

In This Article

Hawaii Lab Explosion Likely Caused by Static Electricity

A laboratory explosion at the University of Hawaii that resulted in a researcher losing her arm was likely caused by static electricity, according to an independent investigation. The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety, which handled the investigation, released its results Friday. Claims Journal >>

Researchers Rise to Challenge of Replacing Helium-3

U.S. researchers have finally overcome a little-known legacy of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks: a dire shortage of helium-3 (He-3). The rare isotope has unique properties that make it invaluable for applications from cryogenics to detecting hidden nuclear bomb material. Science >>

UCF Researcher Studies Chemical Weapons in His Lab

University of Central Florida assistant professor Subith Vasu mimics chemical weapons such as a deadly nerve gas by looking at compounds that aren’t toxic, but share similar structures. Using a stainless steel tube that is 50 feet long and 6 inches wide, he looks at how the compounds react to temperatures that can reach up to 7,500 degrees Fahrenheit to replicate what it’s like in an explosion. Orlando Sentinel >>

6 New Jersey Firefighters Exposed to Chemicals, Hospitalized

Six New Jersey firefighters who were exposed to a “chemical haze” pouring out of a warehouse have been taken to a hospital. Firefighters in Carteret in Middlesex County responded to the warehouse early Tuesday and found “smoke emitting” from the building. Fire officials say the smoke was caused by a chemical reaction. Seattle Times >>

The U.S. Military’s Protection Deficit Disorder

The rapid advent of low cost and miniature commercial drones (which are now available to non-state actors as well as state adversaries) presents a dangerous and growing threat to U.S. ground forces. The threat of use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons is growing — as Pakistan’s development of battlefield nuclear weapons and Syria’s use of chemical munitions have shown. And the risks of proliferation of all these capabilities is on the rise, particularly throughout the greater Middle East. War on the Rocks >>

NRC Doubles Maximum Fine

The agency has revised its regulations to increase the potential maximum civil penalty for violations of the Atomic Energy Act from $140,000 to $280,000. It applies in all cases assessed after Aug. 1, even if the violation occurred before that date. Occupational Health & Safety >>

Upgrade for Swedish Mine Countermeasures Vessels

Defence and security company Saab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) to modify and upgrade two Swedish Navy Koster-class mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs). The order covers the period 2016-2017 and the order value amounts to SEK147 million. Work on the vessels will be undertaken in Karlskrona. ASD News >>

Prevent an Accidental Nuclear War by Taking Land-Based U.S. Missiles Off Hair-Trigger Alert

A nuclear-armed missile would take less than 30 minutes to travel between the United States and Russia. It would take several minutes for the warning system to detect a missile launch, and additional time for the warning to travel up the chain of command. That would leave either president as little as 10 minutes to assess the warning and then decide whether to launch land-based missiles to ensure they are not destroyed. >>

Deadliest Attack in a Year Kills 115 In Central Baghdad

A devastating truck bombing on a bustling commercial street in downtown Baghdad killed 115 people early Sunday, brutally underscoring the Islamic State group’s ability to strike the capital despite a string of battlefield losses elsewhere in the country. It was the deadliest terror attack in Iraq in a year and one of the worst single bombings in more than a decade of war and insurgency, and it fueled anger toward Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. AP >>

Bombings in Saudi Arabia Aim to Challenge Kingdom’s Legitimacy

Suicide bombings across the Muslim world, in Baghdad, Dhaka and Istanbul, have made for a grim and bloody Ramadan. Now three apparently coordinated attacks in Saudi Arabia have underlined a determined effort to target the conservative kingdom hated by the jihadis of Islamic State. The Guardian >>

Taking The Off-Ramp: A Path to Preventing Terrorism

With over 30,000 people having travelled from more than 100 countries to fight in Syria and Iraq, countries are struggling with what to do with the estimated 30 percent now returning. Governments in Africa are faced with the challenge of managing a growing number of young people who are rejecting violent ideologies and defecting from terrorist groups such as Boko Haram or al-Shabaab. War On The Rocks >>

CACI to Support Counter Narco-Terrorism for US CENTCOM

CACI International has been awarded a multi-million task order contract to continue supporting counter narco-terrorism (CNT) work for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Afghanistan and other Combatant Commands (COCOMs). This task order was awarded under the Rapid Response 3rd Generation contract vehicle and expands CACI’s business in its Intelligence Services market area. ASD News >>

Paris Attacks Inquiry Finds Multiple Failings by French Intelligence Agencies

A French parliamentary investigation into last year’s terrorist attacks on Paris has identified multiple failings by France’s intelligence agencies. The commission highlighted a “global failure” of French intelligence and recommended a total overhaul of the intelligence services and the creation of a single, US-style national counter-terrorism agency. The Guardian >>

An Examination of the Maritime Nuclear Smuggling Threat

A joint hearing will be held on July 7 with the House Homeland Security Committee’s Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Homeland Security Committee >> and AJOT >>
Special Interest

UK Intel Source Reportedly Based Iraq Chemical Weapons Info On Nicolas Cage Movie

A UK intelligence agency might have based part of a report on Iraq’s alleged chemical weapons on a movie starring Nicolas Cage, according to a government inquiry released Wednesday. The 2.6 million-word document, known as the Iraq Inquiry, or the “Chilcot report,” is the culmination of a huge investigation that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched in 2009. Yahoo Finance >>

Saudi Arabia is Hit by Suicide Bombers: 3 Cities in 24 Hours

From west to east, the targets ranged from a U.S. consulate in Jeddah to the holy city of Medina and a mosque in the city of Qatif. So far, at least, the casualties are relatively light when compared to recent similar attacks. In at least one case, the attacker died before reaching their target. NPR >>

Would Russia’s Undersea “Doomsday Drone” Carry A Cobalt Bomb?

Following the November 2015 “leak” of a classified slide purporting to show a Russian nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered drone intended to create long-lasting “zones of extensive radiological contamination,” both Russian and Western observers have suggested that Moscow may be developing a cobalt bomb. This conjectural device, which served as the basis of the “doomsday machine” in the classic 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, would employ radioactive cobalt to create unusually intense long-lived fallout. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Susan Southard: Unveiling the Aftermath of Nuclear War

In this interview, author and theater director Susan Southard discusses her book Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, an award-winning history of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and its enduring impact over 70 years. Southard talks about the physical and emotional impacts of the bombing on its survivors; the differences between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings; and the controversy surrounding the American narrative that the bombings were necessary to end the war and save American lives. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Asia: Socio-Demographic Predictors for Urban Community Disaster Health Risk Perception

There is limited evidence on urban Asian communities’ disaster risk perceptions and household level preparedness. Hong Kong is characterized by high population density, and is susceptible to large-scale natural disasters and health crises such as typhoons, fires and infectious disease outbreaks. This research paper investigates the rates and predictors of urban community disaster risk perception, awareness and preparedness, at individual and household levels. PLOS Currents Disasters >>

DIY Micro-Raman: Flexible and Cheap

As we know, Raman spectroscopy can provide detailed chemical information about a sample and is even more powerful when combined with microscopy techniques, when it can non-destructively analyze biological samples, for instance. Now, a team has used twenty readily available components – mirrors and filters, lenses, cameras, and a motorized table – to assemble a versatile micro-Raman system at a fraction of the cost of a commercial instrument. Spectroscopy Now >>

The U.S. Air Force Tried Turning Nuclear Rockets Into Cluster Bombs

American pilots dodged deadly anti-aircraft guns and missiles throughout the Vietnam War. To deal with these and other threats, the U.S. Air Force built various cluster bombs, including repurposed nuclear rockets. By 1967, enterprising airmen at Hill Air Force Base in Utah had converted AIR-2 Genies from atomic air-to-air rockets into a conventional weapon for blowing up targets on the ground. War Is Boring >>

Book Review: Stark Nuclear Warning

“I know of no person who understands the science and politics of modern weaponry better than William J. Perry, the US Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997. When a man of such unquestioned experience and intelligence issues the stark nuclear warning that is central to his recent memoir, we should take heed.” NY Review of Books >>

Book Review: “North Korea’s Juche Myth”

Analysts often invoke North Korea’s Juche ideology of “self-reliance” to explain everything from the country’s personality cult to its military belligerence. Some portray Juche as a logical result of North Korea’s geopolitical environment, and of the Korean peninsula’s history of invasion and subjugation by neighboring countries. 38 North >>

Nuclear Deterrence and the Alliance in the 21st Century

Major and regional powers are modernising their nuclear forces and giving them a central role in their broader strategic posture. In such a context, deterrence is back and NATO needs to re-establish a robust and credible defence and deterrent vis-à-vis multiple and diverse threats, a topic which will be high on the agenda at NATO’s summit in Warsaw in early July. There is a strong nuclear component to this debate. NATO Review >>

If Terrorists Got Hold of a Nuclear Weapon – The Stuff of Nightmares

To see a nuclear horror story unfold, look no further than YouTube. In “My Nuclear Nightmare”, a five-minute graphic film, Bill Perry, a former American defence secretary, describes how a breakaway faction of a rogue state’s security forces enriches 40 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium in a secret facility and then constructs what appears to be a crude bomb, similar in design and yield to the kind that obliterated Hiroshima. The Economist >>

Fate of Nuclear Sub Base in Scotland Unclear after Brexit

The White House cautiously expressed concern this week that the fallout from Brexit could lead to Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom and shutter a Trident nuclear submarine base that plays a key role in NATO deterrence against Russia. When asked about the fate of Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde at Faslane on Scotland’s west coast, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he could only hope that Scotland, where nationalists have long argued for closing the sub base, would choose to remain in the U.K. >>

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