• Omitted details from UN report implicate Syria, Iran in use of chemical weapons

    Details implicating Syria and Iran for a series of chemical weapons attacks in January and February were removed from a UN report that had been released last week. A UN commission investigating war crimes during the seven-year-old Syrian civil war uncovered evidence of six chemical weapons attacks perpetrated by the Assad regime between January and 7 April this year.

  • Replacing TNT with less toxic explosive

    Scientists have developed a novel “melt-cast” explosive material that could be a suitable replacement for Trinitrotoluene, more commonly known as TNT. TNT was first prepared in 1863 by German chemist Julius Wilbrand but its full potential as an explosive wasn’t discovered until 1891. TNT has been in use as a munitions explosive since 1902.

  • Israel deploys tracking system to fight incendiary balloons and kites

    Israel’s famed military prowess has come up against a decidedly low-tech adversary, the humble party balloon, and found itself thwarted. Over the past few weeks, the residents of the Gaza Strip have let loose a barrage of colorful kites with burning tails as well as festive balloons, sometimes condoms, with fuel-soaked strips of cloth. They land inside Israeli territory, often starting serious fires. Israel has now deployed a system to track balloons and kites carrying burning material across the border.

  • Just how many guns do Americans own? (And why do estimates vary so widely?)

    There is no official count of how many guns Americans own. But the best available calculations make it clear that the number has grown by tens of millions in recent decades, leaving the United States ever more densely armed than other countries. A June 2018 report from the Small Arms Survey estimates that American civilians own 393 million guns, both legally and otherwise, out of a worldwide total of 857 million firearms. That’s up from 270 million civilian-owned guns domestically, and 650 million globally, in 2007.

  • Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • Modernization of nuclear arsenals continues

    A new report finds that all the nuclear weapon-possessing states are developing new nuclear weapon systems and modernizing their existing systems. Nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—possess approximately 14,465 nuclear weapons. This marked a decrease from the approximately 14,935 nuclear weapons these states were estimated to possess at the beginning of 2017.

  • Bank withheld $1.6 million from top bump stock maker after Las Vegas shooting

    In a lawsuit, Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor and manufacturer of the bump stock, accuses Merrick Bank of holding more than $1.6 million of the company’s money “hostage.” The financial institution says it had to hedge its risk in light of threats to Slide Fire’s business arising from the Las Vegas shooting.

  • Los Alamos lab designated “No Drone Zone,” deploys counter-drone systems

    Loa Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has deployed a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over its restricted airspace and an additional FAA designated “No Drone Zone.” The Counter-UAS program at Los Alamos will be the blueprint for future programs at three other NNSA sites. Systems are planned for the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada.

  • Recommended: An action plan on U.S. drone policy

    Drones have become a mainstay of U.S. counterterrorism operations and national security policy writ large. The Obama administration popularized the use of armed drones, and U.S. drone policy have only become more salient during the Trump administration – but the Trump administration’s approach to U.S. drone policy has thus far revealed a desire to roll back some of the principles, procedures, and guidelines put in place by the Obama administration.

  • Experts: A 10-year phased denuclearization is safer for both U.S., NK

    Immediate denuclearization of North Korea is dangerous to both North Korean and American interests, say Stanford scholars in a new research report. Instead, they advocate for phased denuclearization to take place over ten years or more, allowing the United States to reduce the greatest risks first and address the manageable risks over time.

  • New app tracks locations, vitals, keeping first responders safe

    When first responders are on a mission, being able to quickly and easily track the location of their fellow responders can be challenging, especially in situations where the team is spread out. Many responders are only able to coordinate their locations by radioing each other or the command post and providing a very detailed message on their exact location. This can be time consuming and can change every second if they are in an emergency situation or on a call. The Watchtower mobile application allows users to track and report their location using the GPS already built into a smartphone.

  • U.S., North Korean in final preparations for Trump-Kim meeting

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference earlier today (Monday) that Washington is prepared to offer North Korea unprecedented security guarantees, which would go even further than 1994 and 2005 guarantees given by the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Pompeo said he was optimistic that the summit would be a success, but defined success as an agreement that the negotiations should continue. He said the U.S. was “hopeful that this summit will set the conditions for future talks.”

  • Detecting the threat of nuclear weapons

    Will the recent U.S. withdrawal from a 2015 accord that put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program make it easier for Iran to pursue the bomb in secret? Not likely, according to Scott Kemp, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. “The most powerful insights into Iran’s nuclear program come from traditional intelligence, not from inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” says Kemp. But covert nuclear-weapon programs, whether in Iran, North Korea, or elsewhere in the world, are a major unsolved problem, according to Kemp.

  • The government’s new contractor to run Los Alamos includes the same manager it effectively fired for safety problems

    The Department of Energy said it would seek new leadership for Los Alamos National Laboratory. But the University of California is still there, even after mismanagement caused it to lose its contract to run the lab — twice.

  • Does the government really need this much power to deal with an attack of the drones?

    Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give DOJ and DHS sweeping new authority to counter malicious drones. Among other things, the bill would authorize DOJ and DHS to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. Given the breadth of these proposed new powers, you would expect officials to have a strong case for passing the bill. But even after the hearing, it’s not clear why DHS and DOJ need any expanded authority to go after “malicious” drones.