• IAEA saw no “credible evidence” Iran was working on nuclear weapon after 2009

    In December 2015, following a series of inspections, the IAEA issued a report saying that the agency had “no credible” evidence Iran was working on developing a nuclear “explosive device” after 2009 and that the UN’s nuclear watchdog considered the issue “closed.” The IAEA said today (1 May) that the agency stands by those conclusions. The IAEA’s statement ccame after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on 30 April that Israel had documents that showed new “proof” of an Iranian nuclear-weapons plan that could be activated at any time.

  • For nuclear weapons reduction, a way to verify without revealing

    In past negotiations aimed at reducing the arsenals of the world’s nuclear superpowers, chiefly the U.S. and Russia, a major sticking point has been the verification process: How do you prove that real bombs and nuclear devices — not just replicas — have been destroyed, without revealing closely held secrets about the design of those weapons? New isotope-detection method could prove compliance but avoid divulging secrets.

  • New radiation detectors developed at Sandia used for New START inspections

    Sandia National Laboratories designed, tested, and delivered new radiation detection equipment for monitoring under the New START Treaty. Defense Threat Reduction Agency inspectors recently used this equipment for the first time in Russia for a New START inspection. New START, or the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, is a treaty between the United States and Russia that, among other limits, reduces the deployed nuclear warheads on both sides to 1,550 by 5 February. These limits will be maintained for as long as the treaty remains in force. The treaty includes regular on-site inspections of warheads and delivery systems.

  • DHS establishes the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office

    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen last week announced the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office. DHS says that the CWMD Office will elevate and streamline DHS efforts to prevent terrorists and other national security threat actors from using harmful agents, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material and devices to harm Americans and U.S. interests.

  • $2-million grant for training next generation of nuclear arms control experts

    Post-Cold War arsenal reductions by the United States and Russia have slowed, and both sides continue to keep many hundreds of weapons on hair trigger alert ready to launch within minutes of a country’s leader pushing the button. Meanwhile, concerns grow about nuclear programs in North Korea, South Asia, and the Middle East. Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS) has received a $2-million grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The award will support SGS’ efforts to educate and train the next generation of researchers and scientists studying nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.

  • Argonne’s nuclear security training team has a global reach

    At Argonne National Laboratory, a team of experts is training foreign scientists and engineers in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology. Although the building is more than 4700 miles from the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, the team is helping it uphold decades of international nuclear cooperation. Over the years, Argonne has taught more than 220 courses to more than 5,000 students, many of whom became leaders of nuclear safety and security abroad.

  • New nuclear forensics signature discovery capability to help trace origins of plutonium

    Two weeks ago the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) joined with partners at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to launch the Plutonium Processing Signatures Discovery capability. The new capability, the result of a four-year effort, represents a significant technological advancement in nuclear forensics that will improve our ability to trace the origins of plutonium. Nuclear forensics involves determining where illicit or smuggled radioactive material came from. In the event of a nuclear weapon detonation, knowing where radioactive material came from can help investigators determine who’s responsible.

  • Detecting weapons-grade uranium from afar

    It is hard enough to identify nuclear materials when you can directly scan a suspicious suitcase or shipping container. But if you cannot get close? A technique for detecting enriched uranium with lasers could help regulators sniff out illicit nuclear activities from as far as a couple of miles away.

  • U.K. nuclear safety regulations place too low a value on human life

    New research has shown that the benchmark used by the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation for judging how much should be spent on nuclear safety has no basis in evidence and places insufficient value on human life. The review suggests it may need to be ten times higher — between £16 million and £22 million per life saved.

  • Former IAEA deputy director criticizes nuclear agency’s Iran investigations

    Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency has criticized the agency for “reduc[ing] the level of transparency and details in its reporting” on Iran’s nuclear program, making it “practically impossible” to confirm that Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear deal.

  • First large-scale, citywide test of advanced radioactive threat detection system

    Field testing of more than 1,000 networked, mobile radiation sensors in Washington, D.C., yields valuable data for implementing enhanced radiation-detection networks in major U.S. cities. By getting volunteers to walk all day looking for clues, the DARPA-sponsored exercise provided the largest test yet of DARPA’s SIGMA program, which is developing networked sensors that can provide dynamic, real-time radiation detection over large urban areas.

  • Nuclear CSI: Noninvasive procedure could spot criminal nuclear activity

    Determining whether an individual – a terrorist, a smuggler, a criminal — has handled nuclear materials, such as uranium or plutonium, is a challenge national defense agencies currently face. The standard protocol to detect uranium exposure is through a urine sample; however, urine is able only to identify those who have been recently exposed. Scientists have developed a noninvasive procedures that will better identify individuals exposed to uranium within one year.

  • HHS bolsters U.S. health preparedness for radiological threats

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) says that as a part of its mission to help protect Americans’ health following even the most unthinkable of disasters, it is purchasing two medical products to treat injuries to bone marrow in victims of radiological or nuclear incidents. Bone marrow is essential to producing blood.

  • Assessing the risk from Africa as Libya loses its chemical weapons

    Libya’s remaining chemical weapons left over from the Gaddafi regime are now being safely disposed of in a German facility. This eliminates the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. But can these same hands acquire weapons of mass destruction from the rest of Africa? The disposal of Libya’s chemical weapons has lowered the risk of weapons of mass destruction in Africa. But we have seen how far non-state actors are willing to go to either produce or steal such weapons. For example, analysts envision militants known as “suicide infectors” visiting an area with an infectious disease outbreak like Ebola purposely to infect themselves and then using air travel to carry out the attack. Reports from 2009 show forty al-Qaeda linked militants being killed by the plague at a training camp in Algeria. There were claims that they were developing the disease as a weapon. The threat WMD pose cannot be ignored. African countries, with help from bilateral partners and the international community, have broadened their nonproliferation focus. They will need to keep doing so if the goal is effectively to counter this threat.

  • Iran received secret exemptions from complying with some facets of nuclear deal

    The nuclear deal between the P5+1 powers and Iran – the official named is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — placed detailed limitations on facets of Iran’s nuclear program that needed to be met by Implementation Day, which took place on 16 January 2016. Most of the conditions were met by Iran, but some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA limits on Implementation Day. In anticipation, the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits. “Since the JCPOA is public, any rationale for keeping these exemptions secret appears unjustified,” say two experts. “Moreover, the Joint Commission’s secretive decision making process risks advantaging Iran by allowing it to try to systematically weaken the JCPOA. It appears to be succeeding in several key areas.”