• British spy chief warns Russia against covert activity after nerve-agent attack

    The head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service has warned the Kremlin not to underestimate the West following a nerve-agent attack on a retired double agent in England that he attributed to covert Russian activity. Alex Younger, head of the Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, made the remarks on December 3 in a rare public speech – saying that Russia is in a state of “perpetual confrontation” with the West.

  • Weapons experts: Satellite images confirm Netanyahu’s claims about Iran’s nuclear warehouse

    Satellite images obtained over the summer confirm charges made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September that Iran had a secret nuclear warehouse in Tehran, a team of weapons inspectors wrote in a paper.

  • Responders provide technical expertise in case of nuclear weapons accidents

    Decades ago, technical experts from the national labs responded in an ad hoc manner to accidents involving nuclear weapons, called “broken arrows.” Thirty-two such accidents have occurred since the 1950s, so the Accident Response Group at Sandia Lab was created about five decades ago to provide technical expertise in assessing and safely resolving nuclear weapons accidents.

  • Quick, precise method for detecting chemical warfare agents

    Sarin is a man-made nerve agent that can spread as a gas or liquid. According to the Center for Disease control, exposure to large doses will over-stimulate glands and muscles, and can lead to loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Even small doses can cause a long list of distressing and dangerous symptoms. “Low-level nerve agent exposure leads to ambiguous signs and symptoms that cannot be easily discriminated from other conditions, which may result in a delay in treatment and permanent damage,” says an expert. “If trace amounts can be detected quickly, you can prevent permanent damage to human health.”

  • Iran planned to build five 10-Kt bombs by 2003: Nuclear experts

    The Institute for Science and International Security published a paper Tuesday containing new details about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and demanding that the International Atomic Energy Agency ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is “ended in an irretrievable permanent manner.” According to the report, Iranian documents show that Iran had specific plans to build five 10-kiloton nuclear devices by 2003. The plans from the archive show that Iran’s planning for these weapons was very detailed, including expected costs and a timetable.

  • Levitating particles could lift nuclear detective work

    Laser-based ‘optical tweezers’ could levitate uranium and plutonium particles, thus allowing the measurement of nuclear recoil during radioactive decay. This technique, proposed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, provides a new method for conducting the radioactive particle analysis essential to nuclear forensics.

  • Preventing 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.

  • Nuclear 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.”

  • Better 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.

  • What history reveals about surges in anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments

    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.

  • Secret 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 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.

  • France 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.

  • Israel 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.

  • Salisbury 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.