• Iran’s nukesExpert: Iran falsely accusing U.S. of violating nuclear deal to gain more concessions

    Iranian warnings against the passage of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) reflect “a broader strategy” in pursuit of additional sanctions relief, a senior analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in a policy brief on Saturday. The ISA was originally passed in 1996, targeting Iran’s energy sector and expanding U.S. secondary sanctions. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a ten-year extension of the act earlier this month. In order to be renewed, the legislation must now pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

  • Nuclear alarmBathroom air freshener triggers emergency response at nuclear weapons complex

    Late in the afternoon on Wednesday of last week officials at the nuclear weapons complex declared an emergency after finding what they regarded as a suspicious device in a bathroom at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina. Emergency teams determined that the suspicious device was an air freshener wrapped in paper towels with a flashing light on it.

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  • Missing nukesCanada to investigate object that could be a nuke lost in 1950

    The Royal Canadian Navy is to investigate an object found by a diver off the coast of Queen Charolette Islands, suspecting it could be a “lost nuke” which was lost off the coast of Canada since 1950. On 13 February 1950, three of the engines of a U.S. Air Force B-36 bomber aircraft caught fire while flying from Alaska to Texas. The plane was on a training mission, planning to carry out a simulated nuclear attack on San Francisco. The crew decided to drop the bomb into the Pacific Ocean before bailing out because they were unsure of how close they were to populated areas.

  • ForensicsNuclear 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.

  • Nuclear materialsSuspension of U.S.-Russia plutonium disposal agreement a setback: Expert

    Earlier this week the lower house of the Russian parliament approved President Vladimir Putin’s decree on suspending the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), which requires each nation to dispose of thirty-four metric tons of plutonium from its dismantled nuclear weapons and military stockpiles. Russia has claimed that the United States is violating the agreement by changing its disposition method from irradiating the plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear reactors to a process called dilute and dispose, but a nuclear expert says that the United States has not violated the terms of the PMDA by proposing that it change its plutonium disposition approach.

  • NukesU.S. could safely reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal: Critics

    Over the last twenty-five years, Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles have decreased dramatically. Today the U.S. arsenal stands at around 4,500 warheads, including both deployed and stored weapons. Critics of the U.S. current posture say that the United States could safely reduce its arsenal of deployed strategic nuclear weapons by an additional third from New START levels. They also say that the U.S. strategic and tactical “hedge” — weapons kept in reserve as technical and strategic backups – could be reduced as well.

  • Nuclear weaponsSled track simulates high-speed accident in B61-12 nuclear weapon test

    Sandia National Laboratories has sent a mock B61-12 nuclear weapon speeding down the labs’ 10,000-foot rocket sled track to slam nose-first into a steel and concrete wall in a spectacular test that mimicked a high-speed accident. It allowed engineers to examine safety features inside the weapon that prevent inadvertent nuclear detonation. Data analysis from the test continues, and the information will help engineers better understand how systems respond in abnormal environments — accidents or other unexpected events.

  • Nuclear weaponsSled track simulates high-speed accident in B61-12 nuclear weapon test

    Sandia National Laboratories has sent a mock B61-12 nuclear weapon speeding down the labs’ 10,000-foot rocket sled track to slam nose-first into a steel and concrete wall in a spectacular test that mimicked a high-speed accident. It allowed engineers to examine safety features inside the weapon that prevent inadvertent nuclear detonation. Data analysis from the test continues, and the information will help engineers better understand how systems respond in abnormal environments — accidents or other unexpected events.

  • Nuclear terrorismTerrorism fallout shelters: Is it time to resurrect nuclear civil defense?

    By Timothy J. Jorgensen

    Fifty-five years ago, on 6 October 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised Americans to build an underground protective room, commonly known as a “fallout shelter,” in their homes. The American people heeded his advice and began an enormous grassroots effort to construct fallout shelters in every private residence and public building. Today, smaller nations and terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, are seeking nuclear weapons. Some nations, like North Korea, already have them. Others may be a decade away. It is not unreasonable to believe that the use of a single nuclear weapon by a rogue nation or a terrorist group now poses a more likely scenario for a nuclear confrontation than a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. We need a strategy to protect ourselves against these adversaries, and right now we don’t have one, except screening cargo. If we don’t find a more effective strategy to thwart nuclear terrorism soon, we may be forced to go back to fallout shelters as our only protective option, whether we like it or not.

  • Nuclear weaponsRussia’s ultimatum to US: Reduce commitment to NATO, lift sanctions – or nuclear deal is off

    The Kremlin, in an unprecedented series of ultimatums on Monday, said Russia would suspend an agreement it had signed with the United States to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel unless the United States rescinds the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea – and also cuts its military commitments to NATO. The Kremlin said that both the economic sanctions and the U.S. military commitments to its NATO allies are “unfriendly” acts to ward Russia.

  • African securityThe apartheid bomb: First comprehensive history of South Africa's nuke program

    The Institute for Science and International Security has today (Friday) released a new book, Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Its History, Dismantlement, and Lessons for Today, by David Albright with Andrea Stricker. It is the first comprehensive, technically oriented history of South Africa’s nuclear weapons program and its dismantlement. The lessons of this dynamic and complicated nuclear weapons program remain valid today. “Although none of the nine states that currently possess nuclear weapons appears on the verge of following South Africa’s example, the South African case contains many valuable lessons in non-proliferation, disarmament, export controls, and verification,” the Institute says.

  • African securityAssessing the risk from Africa as Libya loses its chemical weapons

    By Scott Firsing

    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.

  • Nuclear weaponsN. Korea’s test of miniaturized warhead, submarine-launched ballistic missile, are game changers

    North Korea has conducted its fifth nuclear test last night, marking the 68th anniversary of the nation’s founding. Military analysts say the test shows a worrisome improvement in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities: It was the most powerful nuclear test to date, with a 10-kiloton yield – slightly smaller than the yield of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, estimated to have been between twelve and eighteen kilotons. The warhead tested in the explosion was miniaturized, indicating that North Korea now has the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile. Last night’s test, together with North Korea’s proven progress in launching ballistic missile from submarines, mean that the country is getting closer to possessing a nuclear arsenal capable of hitting the United States.

  • Iran dealIran 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.”

  • Nuclear detectionA new generation of low-cost, networked, nuclear-radiation detectors

    A DARPA program aimed at preventing attacks involving radiological “dirty bombs” and other nuclear threats has successfully developed and demonstrated a network of smartphone-sized mobile devices that can detect the tiniest traces of radioactive materials. Combined with larger detectors along major roadways, bridges, other fixed infrastructure, and in vehicles, the new networked devices promise significantly enhanced awareness of radiation sources and greater advance warning of possible threats.