• Chemical weaponsPreventing chemical weapons as sciences advance and converge

    Revolutionary advances in science and technology are threatening the ability of the Chemical Weapons Convention to prevent the development, possession and potential use of chemical weapons. Scientists warn of this increased chemical weapons risk, which is the result of rapid scientific change. Alarming examples of the dangers from chemical weapons have been seen recently in the use of industrial chemicals and the nerve agent sarin against civilians in Syria, and in the targeted assassination operations using VX nerve agent in Malaysia and novichok nerve agent in the U.K.

  • Iran’s nukesNuclear experts: Archive shows that Iran had “advanced capabilities” to produce nukes

    The documents in an archive seized by Israel show that Iran had “more advanced capabilities to make nuclear weapons themselves,” according to a paper being prepared by an anti-proliferation think tank, experts say. Foreign Policy, which saw an early draft of the paper being produced by the Institute for Science and International Security, reported that the information contained in the archive “demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.”

  • DronesBetter drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.

  • Immigration & social tensionsWhat history reveals about surges in anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments

    By Ingrid Anderson

    In its early years, the United States maintained an “open door policy” that drew millions of immigrants from all religions to enter the country, including Jews. Between 1820 and 1880, over 9 million immigrants entered America. By the early 1880s, American nativists – people who believed that the “genetic stock” of Northern Europe was superior to that of Southern and Eastern Europe – began pushing for the exclusion of “foreigners,” whom they “viewed with deep suspicion.” As scholar Barbara Bailin writes, most of the immigrants, who were from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, “were considered so different in composition, religion, and culture from earlier immigrants as to trigger a xenophobic reaction that served to generate more restrictive immigration laws.” The political climate of the interwar period has many similarities with the anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic environment today.

  • Home-grown terrorismSecret Service intercepts explosive devices sent to Clintons, Obama, CNN

    The U.S. Secret Service says it has intercepted two suspicious packages with “possible explosive devices,” one of them addressed to former President Barack Obama and the other to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Within hours, the Time Warner Center in New York, where news network CNN has studios, was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious device was found in the mail room there.

  • Insect AlliesInsect Allies: Friend or foe?

    In 2016 DARPA launched the Insect Allies project, budgeting $45 million over four years to transform agricultural pests into vectors that can transfer protective genes into plants within one growing season. Scientists are concerned that such technology might be used for nefarious purposes. In a recent Science article, the scientists note the profound implications of releasing a horizontal environmental genetic alteration agent – implications that touch on regulatory, economic, biological, security, and societal issues.

  • Nuclear weaponsFrance sued for “crimes against humanity” South Pacific nuclear tests

    French Polynesia is taking France to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for carrying out nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia, a Polynesian opposition leader said on Tuesday. France carried out 193 nuclear weapons tests on islands in the archipelago between 1960 and 1996 until French President Jacques Chirac ended nuclear testing.

  • Iran’s nukesIsrael accuses Iran of having “secret atomic warehouse” near Tehran

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of having a secret atomic warehouse near Tehran in a UN speech that was dismissed as false by Iranian officials. Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September, Netanyahu displayed an aerial photograph of the Iranian capital with a red arrow pointing to what he said was an undisclosed warehouse holding nuclear-related material. He contended that the discovery shows Iran is still seeking to develop nuclear weapons, despite its 2015 agreement with world powers to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of global economic sanctions.

  • Skripal caseSalisbury poisoning suspect named as Russian colonel

    The real identity of one of the two Russians blamed by Britain for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is Anatoly Chepiga, the investigative website Bellingcat says, adding that he was a decorated Russian colonel. Earlier this month, British prosecutors charged two Russians — identified as Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov — with attempted murder for carrying out the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the Novichok nerve toxin in the southern English city of Salisbury earlier this year. The prosecutors said the two were undercover officers for Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

  • Chemical weaponsUN confirms 33 chemical attacks, constituting war crimes, by Syrian regime since 2013

    The United Nations reported Wednesday that the Assad regime in Syria continues to use chemical weapons against civilian targets, including three chlorine gas attacks on a rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province this year that constitute war crimes.

  • DetectionImproving X-ray detection technology

    DHS S&T has awarded a total of nearly $3.5 million in funding to three new research and development (R&D) projects designed to improve the threat detection capabilities of current X-ray technologies for checked baggage systems.

  • The Russia connectionU.K. charges Russians in novichok case, May says “not a rogue operation”

    British prosecutors have announced charges against two Russian men they believe poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent, and Prime Minister Theresa May says the government has concluded the suspects were officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

  • Nuclear powerMIT Energy Initiative study reports on the future of nuclear energy

    By Francesca McCaffrey

    How can the world achieve the deep carbon emissions reductions that are necessary to slow or reverse the impacts of climate change? The authors of a new MIT study say that unless nuclear energy is meaningfully incorporated into the global mix of low-carbon energy technologies, the challenge of climate change will be much more difficult and costly to solve. For nuclear energy to take its place as a major low-carbon energy source, however, issues of cost and policy need to be addressed.

  • Nuclear safetyNuclear safety board slams Energy Department plan to weaken oversight

    By Rebecca Moss

    The Trump administration defended an order that could be used to withhold information about nuclear facilities from a federal board, but its leader says the action is not consistent with the U.S. Atomic Energy Act.

  • Explosives detectionDeveloping new security scanners capable of detecting explosives

    Using a single pixel camera and Terahertz electromagnetic waves, a team of physicists has devised a blueprint which could lead to the development of airport scanners capable of detecting explosives. The researchers have found an innovative way to capture with high accuracy, not just the shape of an object, but also its chemical composition using a special “single point” camera capable of operating at Terahertz (THz) frequencies.