Pentagon Bomb Squad, Counter-WMD Budget, Iranian Nonproliferation

Topics in this issue include the Pentagon Force Protection Agency bomb squad, the future of Iranian nonproliferation, and balancing the counter-WMD budget.

In This Article

EOD, C-IED and Landmine Clearance

In Pentagon Bomb Squad, an Investigation and a Fight to Stave Off Financial Ruin

In January 2015, members of the Pentagon’s bomb squad got some financially devastating news: They had been overpaid for years, the Defense Department informed them, and the government wanted the money back — all of it. For some bomb technicians, that meant they had suddenly accrued debts of up to $173,000. And going forward, defense officials also told them, their annual pay would be cut by 25 percent. All because of what the government described as a clerical error that the Pentagon bureaucracy itself — not the bomb squad members — had made. Washington Post >>

Sweeping Ukraine’s War Zone for Lurking Bombs

The people of Svatove know all about the unintended consequences of war. Last October, a military depot containing about 3,500 tonnes of ammunition exploded on the edge of this town in eastern Ukraine. The orange glow of the blaze was visible for miles around, amid a storm of white-hot shrapnel and the crack and rumble of countless detonations, as mortar shells, mines, grenades and rockets of all sizes erupted into the night sky. Irish Times >>

Demining in Cambodia: Follow the Money

A surge in U.S. aid is helping Cambodia scale up work to rid its eastern provinces of the deadly detritus of old wars. With other countries pulling funding, deminers are leaving the west—where death and injury from old landmines and artillery shells are far more common—to do it. The consequences could be fatal. Cambodia Daily >>

Seattle-Based Peacetrees Helps Clear Land Mines in Vietnam

Kate Ruffing recalls what it’s like to be in Vietnam watching experts carefully detonate thunderous explosions of decades-old land mines, artillery shells and bombs. Nearly 105,000 deaths and injuries have occurred have occurred in Vietnam since 1975 because of the explosives left behind. PeaceTrees Vietnam was the first American organization to go back to Vietnam after normalization between the country and the United States in 1995. Yakima Herald >>

Nuclear Weapons & Nonproliferation

Brexit Could Put Future of Britain’s Only Nuclear Sub Base in Doubt

Britain’s decision to break with the European Union could pose unintended security problems for NATO, including the alliance’s nuclear posture, if pro-EU Scotland launches a new push for independence. In 2014, Scotland narrowly rejected independence in a referendum, opting to stay in the United Kingdom. The vote had created uncertainty about the fate of the Faslane nuclear submarine base that Edinburgh threatened to shutter in the event of independence. Stars & Stripes >>

Pakistan Vows to Cooperate Against WMD Proliferation

Pakistan has reaffirmed its support and cooperation with the international community to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). “Pakistan will continue cooperating with efforts to promote fair and equitable solutions to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation challenges,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi. Pakistan Observer >>

A Partial Success for the Musudan: Addendum

North Korea has just released an image of Kim Jong Un posing in front of a Musudan missile (Hwasong-10) with the reentry vehicle removed. In addition to showing the grid fins in their stowed configuration, this view shows us the missile’s guidance package. The resolution is not high enough to positively identify specific components or assemblies, but it clearly isn’t the guidance system from a 1960s-vintage Russian R-27 missile. 38 North >>

DoD Holds Trilateral Discussion on North Korean Missile Launch

U.S., Japanese and South Korean defense officials held a videoconference this week to discuss the recent North Korean missile launches. “These and other North Korean missile launches are violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions that explicitly prohibit North Korea’s use of ballistic missile technology,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said. >>

A Brighter Future for Iranian Nonproliferation?

Iran’s vice president and nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi paid a visit last month to the Czech Republic. The trip and Salehi’s statements to the press are positive steps for Iran to become more involved in international nonproliferation efforts. The events were scheduled one week after Iran released its first progress report on the implementation of the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Club Membership

India tried hard to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group with strong backing from the Obama Administration. It was a bridge too far. There was no consensus at the NSG meeting in Seoul to accept India’s candidacy, which was muddied by China’s advancement of Pakistan’s cause. No country besides China (with the possible exception of Turkey) appeared enthusiastic about Pakistan’s candidacy, but advancing Pakistan’s case was a smart move by Beijing, as it magnified the normative stakes of expanding the NSG’s membership. Arms Control Wonk >>

2016 World Nuclear Forces

A look at the total number of nuclear warheads worldwide, the number of deployed warheads, and the countries that possess reactors, warheads, uranium mining or other atomic facilities. Defense News >>

Why the US Navy Should Fear China’s New 093B Nuclear Attack Submarine

Is China’s new Type 093B nuclear-powered attack submarine on par with the U.S. Navy’s Improved Los Angeles-class boats? At least some U.S. naval analysts believe so and contend that the introduction of the new People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines is an indication of just how quickly Beijing is catching up to the West. National Interest >>

CBRN Defense

Inside Britain’s Secret Weapons Research Facility

Set in more than 7,000 acres of English countryside, Porton Down was created 100 years ago in response to the German gas attacks of World War One. The first of these attacks against British troops involved the use of chlorine. Thousands of soldiers, who had no idea what they were facing, suffered severe chemical burns or died in agony. Chlorine was soon joined by mustard gas and phosgene. BBC News >>

Countering WMD and Balancing the Budget

Our reliance on technology without having the proper human intelligence on the ground also increases our risks in not having actionable information or intelligence to prevent potentialities involving CBRNE. Both the size and composition of US capability requires thoughtful processes before cuts can be made. The arbitrary manner of these cuts may have overlooked this construct. LinkedIn Pulse >>

Chemical Safety

Chemical Safety Board Deploying to Fire at Enterprises Product Partners

An investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of a fire at the Enterprises Product Partners – a gas processing plant in Pascagoula, MS. According to initial media reports there were no injuries but several large fires burned throughout the night. Press Release Point >>


Is the West Prepared for an Islamic State Attack?

Most countries in the West remain alert to the possibility of an attack involving weapons of mass destruction, and indeed have the ability to prepare for such scenarios, yet their current planning lacks specifics in terms of policies, procedures, and resources. In many countries, response preparations focus primarily on military operations and force-protection measures, including the safety of first responders, while plans involving the civilian population and infrastructure do not receive adequate attention. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Historical Reflections

CBRNE: What Would Ramazzini Have to Say?

As recent events have elucidated, all workers in all occupations are at risk from terrorist actions and political violence. This includes the more recent and prevalent use of firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Terrorism and political violence, with the potential use of CBRN agents, has emerged as a complex, multifaceted threat largely as the result of converging issues in security, international relations and public health. CBRNe Portal >>

4 H-Bombs in Spain, and the Poisoned Airmen

Commentary on the long-range fallout and cover-up of one of the “biggest nuclear accidents in history,” which occurred when a B-52 bomber collided with a jet over Palomares, Spain, in 1966, freeing four hydrogen bombs at a farming village. NY Times >>

The Top-Secret Cold War Plan to Keep Soviet Hands Off Middle Eastern Oil

On a cool summer day in London in 1951, an American CIA officer told three British oil executives about a top-secret U.S. government plan. The goal was to ravage the Middle East oil industry if the region were ever invaded by the Soviet Union. Oil wells would be plugged, equipment and fuel stockpiles destroyed, refineries and pipelines disabled—anything to keep the USSR from getting its hands on valuable oil resources. The CIA called it the “denial policy.” Politico Magazine >>

Detection Technologies

Helium Discovery a ‘Game-Changer’

With world supplies running out, the find is a “game-changer”, say geologists at Durham and Oxford universities. Helium is used in hospitals in MRI scanners as well as in spacecraft, telescopes and radiation monitors. Until now, the precious gas has been discovered only in small quantities during oil and gas drilling. BBC News >>

Nuclear Radiation Detector Wins Coveted Prize

A device that could improve homeland security, help the military and protect workers in nuclear facilities and hospitals has won a coveted award for a team led by a UMKC Physics professor Anthony Caruso.  Lighter, more sensitive devices have significant safety benefits, both for responders and for workers in the everyday workplace. KCUR >>

Hazardous Materials

Video of Workers Allegedly Dumping Chemical Waste Goes Viral

A Nevada company is under fire after a viral video posted this week purportedly showed three workers dumping machining chemicals along a fence. The video, which one of the men said was shot in early March, shows workers emptying barrels of fluid, at least one of which was labeled as containing Hocut 795-H, a machining and grinding fluid produced by Houghton International. >>

Edmonton in Need of Second Hazmat Response Team

The Fire Chief for the City of Edmonton, Alberta has called for another hazmat response team for the city.  His reason for the need for a new team is in response to an increase of oil carried by train in south Edmonton. The City currently has one hazmat response team but response times for incidents on the south side of Edmonton are 2.2 times longer than other parts of the city. Hazmat Management >>

Officials to Begin Clearing Las Vegas Dry-Cleaner Chemical Plume

Nevada regulators hope to soon begin the long-delayed process of clearing a more than mile-long toxic chemical spill from Las Vegas’ south side. After years of legal and funding questions, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection is planning to remove perchloroethylene from the Paradise Palms neighborhood by next spring. >>


When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers

A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long to assemble a crew that one worker had time for a cigarette break. Paramedics in New York had to covertly swipe medical supplies from a hospital to restock their depleted ambulances after emergency runs. NY Times >>

State Department Holds Competition for Social Media Apps Challenging Terrorism

Can the obsession millennials have with smart technology be capitalized on as a weapon against terrorist propaganda? The U.S. Department of State thinks so, and has selected three teams of student finalists — chosen from fifty-six universities around the world — to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., next week for the “Peer-to-Peer: Challenging Extremism challenge.” HSNW >>

Chemical Threats

Encapsulation of a Nerve Agent Detoxifying Enzyme by a Mesoporous Zirconium Metal

Immobilized enzymes typically have greater thermal and operational stability than their soluble form. Researchers report that for the first time, a nerve agent detoxifying enzyme, organophosphorus acid anhydrolase (OPAA), has been successfully encapsulated into a water-stable zirconium metal–organic framework (MOF). Journal of the American Chemical Society >>

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Visits the OPCW

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, met yesterday with the Director-General of the OPCW, who briefed the Foreign Minister about the work of the Organisation, including the status of the implementation of the Convention, OPCW initiatives to counter the threat of chemical terrorism from Non State Actors, and provided an update on activities related to the Syrian Arab Republic. Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons >>

Responder & Military Health

McCaskill Continues Fight for WWII Vets Exposed to Chemical Weapons

Senator Claire McCaskill says she will continue to fight to pass the Arla Harrell Act to expose the mistreatment of servicemen during World War II who were intentionally exposed to chemical weapons like mustard gas. By the end of the war, 60,000 servicemen had been human subjects in the U.S. military’s chemical defense research program, 4,000 of which received high levels of exposure to mustard gas. For decades, the servicemen were under explicit orders to not discuss their toxic exposure with their doctors or families. KZRG Missouri >>

Upcoming Events

CBRNE Particles News Scan

Ultra-Trace Detection, Post-9/11 Generation, Virtual Reality for Incident Management

Radiation Exposure Handbook, Airport Bombing in Turkey, Nuclear Brexit