Particles – Vehicle Borne IEDs, Hanford’s Aging Tunnels, Drone Sensors

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include the threat of vehicle-borne IEDs, canine odor detection training, and chemical weapons ban enforcement in the context of the G20 Summit.

COUNTERTERRORISM

Addressing the Threat of Vehicle-Borne IEDs

Recently, S&T EXD conducted a series of explosives tests with varying charge sizes to learn more about mitigating these threats, based on the size and composition of the explosive device. The data will improve understanding of the damage that different types of HME mixes can inflict. Such information on large-scale detonations could not be accurately calculated before these tests were conducted. Homeland Security News Wire >>

Chemist Develops Device to Train Canine Units on Odor Detection

The Mixed Odor Delivery Device (MODD) is a low cost and time effective way to train the canines on the odor of homemade explosives. The MODD integrates multiple compartments within the device, each able to hold a different ingredient of the explosive without the danger of mixing. The separated components are enclosed, allowing the odors to diffuse from the individual vials. As they move through the device, the individual components are forced to mix, ultimately providing a mixed odor representative of the actual mixed explosive on which the canine can train. Phys.org >>

Prosecutor: Man Discussed Beheadings; Planned Police Bombing

 A man jailed on terror-related charges pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and talked about his desire to behead people and make a bomb capable of destroying a police station, Alabama prosecutors said. The revelations came as state authorities outlined their evidence against Aziz Sayyed, 22, during a hearing Wednesday in Huntsville. Sayyed wanted to blow up a police building in the Huntsville area with the same type of bomb used at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on May 22, Madison County Assistant District Attorney Jay Town said at the hearing. Associated Press >>

At Least 10 Egyptian Soldiers Killed by Car Bombs in Sinai

At least 10 Egyptian soldiers were killed and several injured when two suicide car bombers hit army checkpoints in northern Sinai on 7 July, security sources said. The two cars exploded as they passed through two checkpoints close to each other on a road outside the border city of Rafah, the sources said. No group claimed responsibility for the attacks. Reuters >>

UNMANNED SYSTEMS

JIDO Fears That Improvised Threat Devices May Be the Latest Drone Delivery Packages

The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) is developing better sensors for detection and tracking, coupled with new ways of data processing, which could be key to defeating growing and emerging dangers in the UAV battlespace.

This is What an ISIS Drone Workshop Looks Like

Getty Images just published photos of an ISIS factory that’s churning out robotic death machines, including aerial drones and four-wheeled robotic bombs. The photos give us a look at the new ways in which ISIS robots are being churned out to spread death and destruction. Gizmodo >>

Army Experts Seek to Defeat Host of Improvised Threats

On average, there are about 2,500 IED attacks every month worldwide, according to Lt. Col. James McGuyer. The number of IED attacks, he said, shows that while enemy combatants may not have the sophisticated weapons that are available in the U.S. arsenal, they are adapting, improvising, and improving effective weapons out of locally available materials. Ft. Campbell Courier >>

RADIOLOGICAL + NUCLEAR

World Nuclear Powers Improve Bombs While Reducing Arsenals

The world’s global nuclear warheads fell in the past year, as states that possess them pursue arsenal modernization, according to the first study of nuclear forces data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institution. As of July, the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had about 4,150 deployed nuclear weapons, Sipri said. Bloomberg >>

2nd Hanford Tunnel Storing Radioactive Waste at Risk of Failing, Federal Study Says

This tunnel is more than four times longer than the smaller Hanford tunnel that suffered a partial roof collapse May 9, triggering an order for more than 4,800 employees to stay indoors. Officials say the May 9 event did not trigger any radioactive releases. But it did escalate safety concerns about the storage of high-hazard materials left from the legacy of Hanford’s plutonium production. Seattle Times >>

Time for a North Korea ultimatum: Choose Peace or Obliteration

North Korea’s Fourth of July missile test launched some diplomatic fireworks in the United Nations Security Council, including threats of force. As Kim Jong Un grows increasingly belligerent and irrational, the international community should deliver a calm but stern message: It is no concern of ours how you run your own country — but if you threaten to extend your violence, North Korea will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. USA Today >>

1,800 Tons of Radioactive Waste Has An Ocean View and Nowhere To Go

The San Onofre nuclear power plant will loom for a long time as a landmark, its 1,800 tons of lethal radioactive waste stored on the edge of the Pacific and within sight of the busy freeway. Across the site, deep pools of water and massive concrete casks confine high-power gamma radiation and other forms of radioactivity emitted by 890,000 spent fuel rods that nobody wants there. And like the other 79,000 tons of spent fuel spread across the nation, San Onofre’s nuclear waste has nowhere to go. LA Times >>

BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE + HEALTH SECURITY

Korea Needs to Tighten Oversight of Botox Toxins

Korea should strengthen the oversight of botulinum toxin (BTX) and other highly toxic substances to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists, according to an internationally-renowned neurobiologist. Korea Times >>

Ignore Bill Gates: Where Bioweapons Focus Really Belongs

Available evidence shows that few terrorists have ever even contemplated using biological agents, and the extremely small number of bioterrorism incidents in the historical record shows that biological agents are difficult to use as weapons. The skills required to undertake even the most basic of bioterrorism attacks are more demanding than often assumed. These technical barriers are likely to persist in the near- and medium-term future. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

CHEMICAL WEAPONS + SAFETY

The G20 Summit and Chemical Weapons in Syria

The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria issued its report concluding that sarin (or a sarin-like chemical) had been used at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017. The FFM established that the soil in the crater carried sarin, isopropylmethylphosphonic acid (IMPA), diisopropyl methylphosphonate (DIMP) and hexamine. Syria declared hexamine to the OPCW in its prior chemical weapon declarations. ‘Sarin-like’ may refer to the detection of the methylphosphonate functional group in the biomedical samples which, in turn, could theoretically derive from a sarin analogue based on a different alcohol. ReliefWeb >>

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Says Sarin Used in April Attack in Syria

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog said the banned nerve agent sarin was used in an attack in northern Syria in April that killed dozens of people, a report from a fact-finding team seen by Reuters on Thursday showed. The report was circulated to members of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, but was not made public. Reuters >>

Assad Still Denies Using Chemical Weapons. Here’s More Proof He Does.

According to an Associated Press report, a nongovernmental source with close ties to the White House said the administration had “received intelligence that the Syrians were mixing precursor chemicals for a possible sarin-gas attack in either the east or south of the country, where government troops and allied forces have faced recent setbacks.” Vox >>

SPECIAL INTEREST

How to Stay Calm Under Pressure, According to a Weapons Disposal Leader

So who really knows about being cool as a cucumber under the most intense pressure imaginable? I’d read that when top bomb disposal experts approach a device designed to kill them, their heart rate actually goes down. Folks, I think we have a winner… So I called a Navy EOD Team Leader. Yahoo >>

Honing the Hounds That Find Hidden Explosives

Sniffer dogs have to be trained, and that is a delicate process. In particular, the trace levels of explosive vapour involved are so low (because dogs’ noses are so sensitive) that accidental contamination of supposedly residue-free “control” samples is a serious possibility. That confuses the animal and slows down its training. Things would therefore go more smoothly if a trainer could find out instantly whether a sample had indeed been compromised by traces of explosive, so that he could tell whether a dog’s reaction to a supposed blank was justified. The Economist >>