Tackling WMD Challenges, Cargo Screening Technologies, 2017 Doomsday Clock

Topics in this issue include early warning systems for nuclear smuggling activities; mitigating risks of IED attacks at airports; forensic detection of explosives in wastewater systems; and drone sensors for radiation and chemical sensing.

In This Article


What Defense Manufacturers Need to Know about the Rapidly Growing CBRNE Threat

Rapid advancements in technology are making it easier for an adversary, whether state or non‐state, to develop chemical and biological weapons. The ability to protect American troops and civilians from the breadth of chemical and biological threats rests on U.S. scientific and engineering ingenuity to develop robust and reliable deterrents, detectors, protection and medical countermeasures. The development of these systems in turn depends on rigorous and relevant live-agent testing to mitigate technological risk. Battelle >>

Working with Silicon Valley on New Approaches to Tackling Weapons of Mass Destruction Challenges

This past April, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and then Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller convened technologists, entrepreneurs, coders, scientists, and hackers from across Silicon Valley to brainstorm on new approaches to detecting and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Medium >>

Pitt Professors Hoping to Develop Early Warning System for Nuclear Smuggling Activities

That vial of cesium-135 seized during a nuclear smuggling bust in Moldova in 2015? Phil Williams can shower you with decades of context showing how traffickers in one of Europe’s most lawless and poorest states might have gotten involved in trying to sell radioactive materials to ISIS. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette >>

Identification of Organophosphorus Nerve Agent Adducts to Human Butyrylcholinesterase

In this study, a data-dependent, high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry (ddHRMS/MS) method capable of detecting all organophosphorus nerve agent (OPNA) adducts to human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) was developed. Analytical Chemistry >>

Researchers Develop Hybrid Nuclear Desalination Technique with Improved Efficiency

To improve environmental safety and desalination technology, it is necessary to solve a global scientific and technological problem—the creation of an integrated water supply system based on the use of new high-efficiency desalination methods such as nuclear membrane desalination or hybrid technologies. Phys.Org >>


Pueblo Chemical Weapons Destruction Plant Could Face Layoffs

An Army contractor says about 2 percent of the workers at a Colorado plant destroying chemical weapons could face layoffs or furloughs. The plant is destroying about 780,000 shells filled with mustard agent under an international treaty. ABC News 13 Colorado >>

Manchester Police Used ‘Dangerous’ CS Gas Without Permission, Court Told

Greater Manchester Police used incapacitating CS gas grenades for five years without permission from the home secretary, a public inquiry has heard. The force’s firearms unit used the weapon even though government scientists refused to sanction them and a national policing body described them as “dangerous”. The Guardian >>

Did Sudan Use Chemical Weapons in Darfur Last Year?

After nearly 14 years of war, the most recent violence to ravage the western Sudanese region of Darfur came in the form of a large-scale military offensive last year in the area of Jebel Marra, a 5,000-square-kilometer volcanic massif that’s home to about 1,500 villages. Ostensibly aimed at members of an armed opposition group, the nine-month operation mostly victimized civilians, and the government in Khartoum has been very successful in hiding these violations. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Yes, North Korea Has Nuclear Weapons. But What About Those 5,000 Metric Tons of Chemical Weapons?

Would North Korea chance using chemical weapons? The deterioration of the conventional North Korean military makes the use of gas more necessary than ever. The KPA has few “force multipliers” to enhance its effectiveness on the battlefield and even fewer that only it alone would use. National Interest >>

2,500 Wartime Japanese Chemical Weapons Destroyed

China’s military said Tuesday that more than 2,500 abandoned Japanese wartime chemical weapons collected from northern China, including Beijing and the port city of Tianjin, have been destroyed in a four-year disposal process. Japan and China have been working together on the biggest chemical weapon cleanup effort in history, a decades-long. Macau Daily >>


Providing Radiation Safety Guidance for Security Screening at Ports, Airports and Other Checkpoints

Combatting drug trafficking at ports, screening passengers at airports, determining the age of immigrants who have lost their passports: these are among the areas where radiation is used for human imaging for non-medical purposes.  As more people become exposed to radiation in this way, Member States have requested the IAEA to create international guidelines to limit their exposure. IAEA >>

ASPECTS – A Solution to Airport Secure Perimeter Control Against sUAS

Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) are becoming increasingly popular among hobbyists, and with this popularity there comes the risk of a runway incursion between a commercial aircraft and sUAS around airports. Despite a 5-mile safe airspace designated by the FAA, there are increasing reports of close encounters between sUAS and manned aircraft as well as full on collisions. National Academies of Science >>

Benefit of Distributed Security Queuing for Reducing Risks Associated with IED Attacks in Airport Terminals

Brussels Airport ceased operations for 12 days after a coordinated Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack by suicide bombers in March 2016, demonstrating that critical transport hubs can be disrupted for significant durations by terrorists. This study demonstrates that the use of distributed security queuing will offer casualty reductions. It is likely that implementing this countermeasure would not be deemed cost-effective from a purely financial perspective, particularly when the threat likelihood is very low. American Society of Mechanical Engineers >>

Tamper Evident Tape Integrity Analyzer

This paper focuses on the TET analyzer software that provides a method to determine the effectiveness of tamper evident adhesive tapes used to secure boxes, pallets and other types of cargo to mitigate threats posed by the potential introduction of improvised explosive devices into cargo carried by passenger aircraft. IEEE Xplore >>


South Korea to Enhance Surveillance, WMD Detection Capabilities

South Korea’s military plans to deploy several new weapon systems in 2017 to better counter military threats posed by North Korea, including Pyongyang’s potential use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul said in a 24 January press release. Largely aimed at enhancing the country’s defence, detection, and surveillance capabilities, the systems include an armored CBRN reconnaissance vehicle referred to in the press release as the CBRN Recon Vehicle II, a further development of the K216A1. IHS Jane’s 360 >>

20th CBRNE Command Holds CAPEX at Fort Hood

The capabilities exercise took place at an underground training facility on West Fort Hood, called UTF-50. The tunnels were original constructed in the late 1940s to hold and store much of the United States’ nuclear arsenal during the Cold War. The tunnels were retired from their original purpose in 1969 and are now used as a training facility for U.S. military units and other federal agencies to conduct training exercises in an underground environment. Fort Hood Sentinel >>

A Special Team to Secure the Republic Day Parade from Nuclear and Chemical Threats

Come January and large parts of New Delhi virtually turn into a fortress ahead of the annual Republic Day parade. The president, prime minister, a visiting head of state, senior members of the government, the military top brass, the country’s political elite and many spectators gather at Rajpath to watch the parade. It is a huge security challenge. Huffington Post >>

E-ONE Completes CBRN Incident Vehicle for Asia

The vehicle is a 17-foot combo rescue built on a four-door European chassis. It is designed with a safe cabin to accommodate three people. The safe breathing room includes a positive pressure air filtration system that prevents contaminated air from getting into the cabin to safeguard occupants. Fire Engineering >>


We Asked an Expert How to Disarm Improvised Explosive Devices

It’s a sad state of affairs. The planet has a lot people putting a lot of effort into building rudimentary bombs out of military artillery, ammunition, and even just plain old fireworks. As you probably know, these bombs are called Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, and they’re what most DIY terrorists and insurgents use to wreak havoc on their enemies. VICE >>

Detection of Explosives in a Flow of Vehicles

One of the most challenging situations is the case where large crowds of people or large accumulations of vehicles are in permanent motion, as it is the case for people on public areas or events and vehicles in dense traffic. Here the problem is the big number of objects to be investigated rather in parallel, and the fact that the objects may mask each other, preventing proper and complete scanning of them. Consequently, sensor types and architectures have to be explored in order to overcome such problems.  DLR Portal >>

Analysis of Alternative Convoy Route Patrol Procedures for C-IED During Asymmetric Warfare in Afghanistan-like Rural Settings

Despite Billions of dollars spent on technological devices to counter the IED threat, IEDs are still responsible for roughly 50% of battlefield casualties. This dissertation paper explores the potential of CIED procedures as a casualty reduction mechanism by comparing two observed tactical procedures used in patrolling convoy routes. University of Central Florida >>

Forensic Detection of Explosives in the Wastewater System: Implications for Intelligence Gathering

There is significant potential for measuring trace levels of explosives in the wastewater system to offer a viable form of forensic intelligence to inform on-going criminal and counter-terrorism investigations. This research addresses the need to provide an empirical evidence base for the monitoring of trace explosives, utilizing the wastewater analysis approach to contribute to identifying the provenance of the illegal manufacture of homemade explosives (HMEs) for use in improvised explosive devices. UCL Discovery >>

Man Accused of Having Bomb-Making Manuals and IS Magazine

Lee Edwards Griffiths, 26, of Swansea, allegedly had copies of so-called Islamic State magazine Rumyiah and the Anarchist Cookbook. He is charged with five counts of possessing information which may be useful to someone who commits or prepares acts of terrorism. BBC News >>


UNR Tests Drones to Help Clean Nuclear Waste

Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have built an aerial robot with multi-model mapping capabilities that includes inertial sensing, LiDAR, cameras with synchronized flashing LEDs, as well as sensors for radiation and chemical sensing to localize itself and comprehensively map its environment in very high quality. Northern Nevada Business Weekly >>

A Small, Lightweight Sensor System for Emission Sampling from Open Area Sources

This study developed and applied a multipollutant sensor and time-integrated sampler system for use on mobile applications such as vehicles, tethered balloons (aerostats) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to determine emission factors. Atmospheric Environment >>

Review of Sensors Used in Robotics for Humanitarian Demining Application

This document has the aim to evaluate the sensor technologies used for landmine detection that can be on a robotic platform. The researchers selected the most relevant technologies and evaluated their quality in physics parameters related with robotic, and present the external factors that affect the sensor measure, and indicate their advantages and disadvantages for the demining task and mention some design elements for the robotic system relevant to demining task. IEEE Xplore >>


Protecting the Nation from Health Security Threats

Health security is the collective effort to prevent, mitigate, and recover from the health consequences of these kinds of epidemics, disasters, and catastrophes. In many of these events, major initial impacts are related to health and loss of life. But when health consequences of this nature and potential scale occur, or are legitimately feared, then economic, governance, political, and security consequences can quickly follow. Journal of Health Security >>

Letter Containing White Powder Sent to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

Tense moments Tuesday morning after a letter containing a suspicious substance was found in a downtown office building in Orlando.  Hazmat responders could not confirm what the white powder was, but it was not dangerous. The all clear was given to the building and employees well before noon. Fox 35 Orlando >>

Partnering with Communities to Foster Trust, Save More Lives, and Prompt Recovery in Epidemics and Disasters

Beginning in 2017, new federal leadership can take important steps to vitalize the role of private citizens and businesses as well as faith-based and community-based organizations in the larger public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) enterprise. A broad consensus exists that government on its own cannot effectively and equitably manage epidemics and disasters. Journal of Health Security >>


CSI Comes to Nuclear Security

National nuclear forensics libraries are rapidly becoming an integral element of an individual government’s nuclear security architecture, a go-to source for the information necessary to do nuclear forensics. To give one example, if suspect nuclear material is encountered, a national nuclear forensics library could provide support, enabling investigators to make rapid comparisons of interdicted nuclear material with domestic holdings, and exclude domestic materials that are inconsistent with measurements derived from nuclear forensic analysis. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Encouraging Japan to Go Nuclear Won’t Denuclearize North Korea

During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump said that a nuclear-armed Japan might not be a “bad thing” for the United States “because of the threat of North Korea.” In a recent op-ed, Charles Krauthammer seemed to agree, advising the incoming administration to declare that the United States should no longer oppose Japan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. He argued that “the Chinese have many nightmares, none worse than a nuclear-armed Japan,” and China can “halt” the North Korean nuclear weapons program. 38 North >>

2017 Doomsday Clock: It is Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight

Each year, the setting of the Doomsday Clock galvanizes a global debate about whether the planet is safer or more dangerous today than it was last year, and at key moments in recent history. This year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual. On the big topics that concern the board, world leaders made too little progress in the face of continuing turbulence. In addition to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, new global realities emerged, as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used in cavalier and often reckless ways. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

The Intersection of Cyber and Nuclear War

Cyber technology is making the hunt for mobile missiles faster, cheaper, and better. This upsets nuclear stability because it opens the door to accurate strikes with conventional or nuclear weapons on the backbone deterrent systems of the second nuclear age, namely, mobile missiles. The consequences of this technological shift are many: an increase in the benefit of shooting first; more nervous, reactive intelligence tightly coupled to offensive forces; and arms races as attacker and defender go through cycles of measure and countermeasure. Real Clear Defense >>

Confronting the Nuclear Paradox

The tension between the hope expressed by “atoms for peace” and the fear symbolized by a mushroom cloud remains at the heart of contemporary political debates regarding the future of nuclear energy. This tension results in countervailing rhetorical and social fault-lines that undermine the political consensus necessary to generate meaningful action to address arguably the two most significant threats facing the international community today: climate change and nuclear security, including nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Energy Research & Social Science >>

Nuclear Material Flown from Scotland ‘Not for Military’

A UK-US agreement on the transfer of highly-enriched uranium that involves sites in Scotland rules out the military’s use of the nuclear material. The Scottish government made the statement in an answer to a question from Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie. Mr Finnie has concerns about the use of Wick John O’Groats Airport for flying the material held at nearby Dounreay to the US. BBC >>

Mattis Talks Nukes, But Is Trump Listening?

Over the next year, many observers will be closely watching how the new administration addresses America’s nuclear arsenal. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) report, a legislatively mandated review of the U.S. nuclear posture, provides Congress with the administration’s plans to develop nuclear policy, strategy, and capabilities. It is unclear as to whether or when we will see an NPR from the Trump administration. War On The Rocks >>

How Cutting Nuclear Arsenals Could Make World War III More Likely

President-elect Trump has not made up his mind how to deal with the threat of nuclear war, but give him credit for at least acknowledging the problem. Most politicians choose to ignore the 800-megaton gorilla in the room, even though it’s the one manmade threat that could wipe out American democracy before inauguration day. Forbes >>

Re-Evaluating Category 3 Source Protection and Accountability

Back in July, we talked about the Government Accountability Office’s investigation in which the GAO created a fake company that was successful in one out of three tries at getting a license for radioactive material. Once they received the license and placed an order, GAO then altered the license to increase the quantity of material authorized and placed a second order. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission >>


Career Path Takes Soldier from Infantry to Medical Field to WMD Defense

Right after basic training and Advanced Individual Training for his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), SGT Baker enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, majoring in biology. He later transferred to Rice State to play soccer and continue his studies in the sciences, earning bachelor’s degrees in both biology and medical laboratory sciences. When given the chance to work in a field that was more in line with his educational background, he made the jump to 68K Medical Lab Technician. Then he was offered a chance to work full-time with the Guard as a 74D CBRN Specialist. The fit felt natural because of his background in science. National Guard >>

CIA Memo Confirms Nuclear Sub Crash

A CIA document has revealed that two nuclear submarines collided in a sea loch just off the west coast of Scotland more than 40 years ago. The top secret memo, which has just been declassified, tells how a US submarine collided with a Russian vessel near Holy Loch in November 1974. The cable marked “Secret eyes only” was sent to US secretary of state Henry Kissinger. BBC News >>

Nazis and Nerve Agents – How Beauty Spot Became a Deadly Chemical Weapons Factory

The very nature of the deadly work being undertaken meant that for decades, 865 acres of coastline were shrouded in secrecy. The land at Nancekuke was first requisitioned by the MoD in 1940 and a year later provided a base for British and American fighters and bombers during the Second World War. Plymouth Herald >>

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