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Blockchain Technology, Drone Attacks, Plutonium Deal

Topics in this issue include blockchain technology for nuclear security, the emerging era of drone threats, and the US-Russian plutonium deal fallout.

Even the US Military is Looking at Blockchain Technology—to Secure Nuclear Weapons

Blockchain technology has been slow to gain adoption in non-financial contexts, but it could turn out to have invaluable military applications. DARPA, the storied research unit of the US Department of Defense, is currently funding efforts to find out if blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data, with potential applications for everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites. Quart >>

A Serious Solution for Syria

The international community has known for quite some time that both the Syrian government and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have used chemical weapons in Syria. The worst, and most obvious case that comes to mind is the sarin attack in Ghouta on August 21, 2013. The chemical weapons attack in Ghouta prompted the international community, through the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to act. Georgetown Security Studies Review >>

Sudan: International Chemical Weapons Investigation Urgently Needed Into Horrific Jebel Marra Attacks

“Expressing concern and consternation will not suffice, we need to see concrete steps towards an independent investigation. We have credible evidence of horrific injuries, and estimates of up to 250 deaths, caused by dozens of suspected chemical weapons attacks against civilian populations over the past nine months,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International. Amnesty International >>

White House Workshop Predicts Deadly Drone Attacks in US

The White House is taking steps to rein in commercial drone flights over U.S. airspace amid concerns that the tiny, flying machines will be used as weapons in a terrorist attack. The Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International released the workshop proceedings Wednesday as news reports emerged that a booby-trapped drone killed two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and badly wounded two French soldiers battling militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Military.com >>

Nuclear-Armed Drones? They May Be Closer Than You Think

A nuclear-armed UAV may not be on the horizon any time soon, but it is a certainty that longer-range armed drones are coming, and perhaps sooner than we think. The promise of such a system, and the strike options it offers, are going to be just too irresistible to pass up. Asia Times >>

What Do You Do with 34 Metric Tons of Weapons-Grade Plutonium?

When the United States broke off cease-fire talks with Russia over the war in Syria (after the Russian air force continued to bomb civilians in Aleppo), Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliated by suspending a nearly two-decades old arms agreement to get rid of his country’s extra weapons-grade plutonium. Signed in 2000, the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement stipulated that each country dispose of weapons-grade plutonium they deemed no longer required for defense purposes. Each country agreed to get rid of 34 metric tons of its excess stockpile. Popular Science >>

Russia Deploys Nuclear-Capable Missiles in Kaliningrad as Tensions Rise

Moscow has moved nuclear-capable missiles near the Polish border, its defense ministry confirmed on Saturday, as Germany’s foreign minister warned that tensions between Russia and the West were “more dangerous” today than during the Cold War. The Telegraph >>

Czech Chemical Unit Gets U.S. Mobile Detection Laboratory

The Czech chemical unit in Liberec took over yesterday a mobile laboratory to detect toxic and radioactive substances, drugs and explosives, which was financed by the United States and which is the most modern in NATO, Radek Cerny has told CTK. Prague Monitor >>

Developing Sensors to Detect Deadly Explosives

Sensor development is important for security around the world. Learn how scientists are developing sensors for triaceton triperoxide (TATP), one of the most notorious explosives in the world. After the terrorist bombings in Brussels early this year, Senator Chuck Schumer asked the American government’s anti-terrorism agency to expedite the testing of a recent technology to detect the explosive used in the attack. All About Circuits >>

Iran Nuclear Deal Still Fragile, U.N. Atomic Chief Says: DPA

The implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers is still fragile, the head of the U.N. agency that polices Iran’s side of the deal has said, warning that small mistakes could have grave consequences. Iran and six major powers, including the United States, struck the agreement last year. It restricts Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Reuters >>

Pentagon Confronts a New Threat from ISIS: Exploding Drones

Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq last week shot down a small drone the size of a model airplane. They believed it was like the dozens of drones the terrorist organization had been flying for reconnaissance in the area, and they transported it back to their outpost to examine it. NY Times >>

Opinion: Why Trump Is Wrong On U.S. Nuclear Modernization

Donald Trump made a sweeping claim during Sunday night’s explosive presidential debate that America’s nuclear weapons capability has fallen far behind Russia’s. But the facts don’t back up his assessment. Aviation Week >>

Flying IEDs: The Next Big Threat?

On Tuesday, French media broke the story that two French soldiers in Erbil had been severely injured and two Peshmerga fighters killed by what appears to be the first successful use of a drone carrying explosives. At this point, little information is available. The French daily Le Monde reported that “two paratroopers were struck by the booby-trapped drone, sent by a group linked to the Islamic State. The exact circumstances of the attack remain to be specified.” War on the Rocks >>

Ahmad Khan Rahami to Be Arraigned on Charges He Tried to Kill New Jersey Police

A man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York, injuring more than 30 people, is scheduled to be arraigned on charges he tried to kill police officers in New Jersey before they captured him. Rahami, an Afghan-born US citizen, has been hospitalized with gunshot wounds since a police shootout that led to his capture on 19 September outside a bar in Linden. The Guardian >>

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