• Nuclear weapons Expanding Testing Capacity for Sandia Weapons Modernization Programs

    Sandia National Laboratories’ Programs Engineering and Assembly Research (SPEAR) facility, which opened this summer, is the first of its kind at Sandia’s California campus and expands Sandia’s capacity to assemble and electrically test nuclear weapons components and systems for the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

  • Nuclear weaponsReplacing Aging Thermonuclear Warheads

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers passed their first program level key milestone in the W87-1 Modification Program (W87-1 Mod) on Sept. 24, keeping the program on schedule despite work stoppages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The W87-1 Mod will replace the W78 thermonuclear warhead with a modified design of the W87 warhead.

  • China syndromeChinese Nuke Arsenal Next on Beijing’s “To-Do” List, U.S. Commander Warns

    By Carla Babb

    The commander in charge of the U.S. military’s nuclear arsenal has warned that increasing China’s nuclear stockpile is “next” on Beijing’s “to-do list.” Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, U.S. Strategic Command chief Adm. Charles Richard said that while the United States has “no margin” of error left to start recapitalizing its nuclear force, China has a proven record of steadily building its military.

  • Radiation detectionRadiation Detection System to Protect Major U.S. Metropolitan Region

    An exercise last December at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was the culmination of a five-year effort to develop and deploy an automated, high-performance, networked radiation detection capability for counterterrorism and continuous city-to-region scale radiological and nuclear threat monitoring.

  • Nuclear detectionUltrasensitive Measurements Detect Nuclear Explosions

    Imagine being able to detect the faintest of radionuclide signals from hundreds of miles away. Scientists have developed a system which constantly collects and analyzes air samples for signals that would indicate a nuclear explosion, perhaps conducted secretly underground. The system can detect just a small number of atoms from nuclear activity anywhere on the planet. In terms of sensitivity, the capability – in place for decades – is analogous to the ability to detect coronavirus from a single cough anywhere on Earth.

  • Nuclear weaponsA Restart of Nuclear Testing Offers Little Scientific Value to the U.S. and Would Benefit Other Countries

    By Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress and Miles A. Pomper

    The U.S. tested nuclear bombs for decades. But at the end of the Cold War in 1992, the U.S. government imposed a moratorium on U.S. testing. in recent weeks, the Trump administration and Congress have begun debating whether to restart active testing of nuclear weapons on U.S. soil. We are two nuclear weapons researchers – a physicist and an arms control expert – and we believe that there is no value, from either the scientific nor diplomatic perspective, to be gained from resuming testing. In fact, all the evidence suggests that such a move would threaten U.S. national security.

  • Iran’s nukesSuspicions Mount of Foreign Hand in Fire at Sensitive Iranian Nuclear Site

    By Golnaz Esfandiari

    There is growing support among outside security experts for the notion that an “incident” at Iran’s main nuclear-enrichment facility last week was an act of sabotage in a shadow war aimed at setting back Tehran’s nuclear activities. Many analysts believe that a foreign state, possibly Israel, was behind the 2 July fire at the Natanz facility in Iran’s central Isfahan Province.

  • Iran’s nukesSetback for Iran’s Nuclear Program after Mystery Fire at Centrifuge Assembly Site

    By Michael Lipin, Farhad Pouladi

    New details of an Iranian nuclear facility damaged in a mysterious fire suggest Thursday’s incident is a much greater setback to Iran’s nuclear ambitions than Tehran has publicly admitted. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security identified the facility as a centrifuge assembly workshop at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant in central Iran’s Isfahan province.

  • ArgumentNuclear Alarmism: Proliferation and Terrorism

    Alarmism about nuclear weapons is common coin in the foreign policy establishment, John Mueller writes. He notes that during the course of the Cold War, for example, the chief concern was that the weapons would somehow go off, by accident or by intention, devastating the planet in the process. More recently, the worry has been that terrorists would get their hands on nuclear weapons. Concerns about the dangers inherent in nuclear proliferation and in nuclear terrorism certainly seem overwrought, Mueller writes, concluding: “There may be reason for concern, or at least for interest and watchfulness. But alarm and hysteria (not to mention sleeplessness) are hardly called for.”

  • Nuclear weaponsFlight Tests Show B61-12 Compatible with F-15E Strike Eagle

    Dropped from above 25,000 feet, the mock B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb was in the air for approximately 55 seconds before hitting and embedding in the lakebed, splashing a 40- to 50-foot puff of desert dust from the designated impact area at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. That strike was the last in a series of flight tests designed to demonstrate the refurbished B61-12’s compatibility with the U.S. Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagle jet fighter.

  • NukesNuclear Weapon Modernization Continues but Outlook for Arms Control Is Bleak: Report

    The just-released annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament, and international security. The report finds is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2019, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

  • Nukes & hurricanesBill Would Prohibit Use of Nukes against Hurricanes

    Last August, President Trump repeatedly asked DHS experts and other top national security officials to consider using nuclear bombs to weaken, destroy, or change the direction of hurricanes. The idea is not new, but it has been dismissed by experts. NOAA says that the energy released by nuclear weapons pales in comparison to the energy released by a typical hurricane, which the NOAA describes as comparable to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding “every 20 minutes.” While the detonation of even several nuclear bombs would not weaken a hurricane or change its direction, experts note that the radioactive fallout released downwind could have catastrophic impacts for people and the environment.

  • Iran’s nukesU.S. Ending Sanctions Waivers on Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program

    The United States has announced it will end sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European firms to carry out civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran, effectively scrapping the last remnants of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move dismissed by Tehran as “desperate.”

  • Iran’s nukesSnapback of Sanctions under the Terms of the Nuclear Deal Is Fully Justified Today

    By David Albright

    “If Iran today wants a serious discussion about sanctions relief, it should start by abandoning the key threat Tehran poses to international peace and security: its uranium enrichment program,” writes David Albright, a nuclear weapons expert and the president of the Institute for Science and International Security. “Instead, Iran holds its own people hostage over the deadly coronavirus outbreak in a cynical campaign for wholesale sanctions relief.” The willingness of Iran’s leadership to refuse epidemic aid and thus dramatically, and unnecessarily, increase the number of sick and dying Iranians; the willing of the leadership to intensify and deepen the severe economic deprivation and misery across the country – and do all that in order to grow an economically nonviable, menacing uranium enrichment program — “That alone should lead all to consider just what is the real purpose of Iran’s enrichment program,” Albright writes.

  • NukesCold War Nuclear Tests Changed U.K. Rainfall

    Nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War may have changed rainfall patterns thousands of miles from the detonation sites, new research has revealed. Scientists have researched how the electric charge released by radiation from the test detonations, carried out predominantly by the U.S. and Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s, affected rainclouds at the time.