• U.S. stealthy war on terror expands, deepens; Special Operations forces take lead

    The Obama administration has expanded and deepened the U.S. war on terror, and increase the role of Special Forces in that war; U.S. Special Forces are now deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year; plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group; the administration has also authorized the assassination of the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a rare — some say unprecedented — move against an American citizen

  • New automated tool debugs nuclear weapon simulations

    The United States relies on nuclear weapons in its deterrence strategy; international conventions, however, prohibit the testing of nuclear weapons; U.S. leaders , military and civilians, must thus rely on simulations to have confidence in the operational reliability of these untested weapons; Purdue researchers offer a new methods to debug nuclear weapons simulations

  • UN: Iran has fuel for two nuclear weapons

    IAEA says Iran has enough nuclear fuel for two nuclear weapons; the toughly worded IAEA report says that Iran has expanded work at one of its nuclear sites; it also describes, step by step, how inspectors have been denied access to a series of facilities, and how Iran has refused to answer inspectors’ questions on a variety of activities, including what the agency called the “possible existence” of “activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile”

  • U.K. firm investigated over sale of dirty bomb material to Iran

    British company sells cobalt aluminate; the material can be used to produce alloys as well as the lethal radioactive isotope cobalt 60; for this reason its sale to nations like North Korea and Iran is tightly limited; cobalt is considered by nuclear experts as more likely to be used in a dirty bomb than in a nuclear warhead

  • The threat of nuclear terrorism against Israel

    Former Israeli deputy national security adviser writes that the threat of nuclear terrorism Israel faces may be more likely to materialize than an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel — should Iran acquire nuclear weapons; he recommends a staunch and uncompromising deterrence policy, based on “retaliate first, no questions asked” — and a study of potential targets of high value to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations which would be destroyed in a retaliatory attack

  • Iran's nuclear fuel swap is a sham; sanctions may still be imposed

    Following a meeting in Tehran over the weekend of the leaders of Iran, Brazil, and Turkey, Iran said it agreed to send 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey in exchange for 120 uranium rods enriched to 20 percent; Turkey and Brazil were quick to argue that there is no reason now for sanctions on Iran; the deal, though, is a sham; Iran has more than a ton of LEU left, and most importantly: it continues aggressively to enrich uranium and it has accelerated work on other components of a nuclear weapon

  • U.S. has 5,113 strategic nuclear warheads -- down from 31,225 in 1967

    IN 1967 The United States had 31,255 strategic nuclear warheads in its arsenal; in 1989, the number fell to 22,217; today, the number of warhead is 5,113; the number of non-strategic, or tactical, nuclear weapons fell by 90 percent between 1991 and 2009

  • How safe are the world's nuclear fuel stockpiles?

    There is a lot of weapon-grade nuclear material in the world — 1,600 tons of HEU and 500 tons of separated plutonium; keeping these stockpiles safe will take more than barbed wire; one method is a seal for HEU fuel rods with a pattern of flaws visible on ultrasound scans that cannot be removed without leaving telltale signs; the seals were installed last year in Romania and Pakistan; scientists work on other detection and safety methods

  • Iran's nukes: the state of play

    There are no doubts about two things: Iran is working feverishly to acquire the means and materials to build nuclear weapons, and that Iran’s goal is to minimize the breakout time before making a sprint toward a nuclear weapon; by minimizing the breakout time, Iran would limit the world’s ability to exert pressure and reduce the opportunity to intervene militarily or otherwise to prevent Iran from getting the bomb; the good news is that Iran’s nuclear program is vulnerable to attack and disruption

  • The real battle over Iran's nuclear weapons program takes place in courts, intelligence centers

    Iran has a voracious appetite for technology to feed its nuclear, missile, and other military programs; while diplomats in striped suits debate the fine points of new UN sanctions on Tehran because of its nuclear weapons program, the real struggle over Iran’s capabilities is taking place in courtrooms and intelligence centers, via sting operations, front companies, and falsified shipping documents

  • Weapon-grade fissile material in the world could yield 126,500 nuclear bombs

    The nations of the world together have in their possession about 1.6 million kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and about 500,000 kilograms of plutonium; it takes only about 25 kilograms of HEU or eight kilograms of plutonium to make a crude nuclear bomb; thus the weapon-grade material now available in the world could yield 64,000 HEU-based bombs and 62,500 plutonium-based bombs

  • Shortcomings in U.S. safeguards of weapon-grade nuclear materials

    Reviews ordered by President Obama have found weaknesses in the U.S. government’s stewardship of its nuclear cache, from weapons to the ingredients and classified information that go into them; before opening the nuclear summit earlier this week, Obama said that “Unfortunately, we have a situation in which there is a lot of loose nuclear material around the world”; this is true for the United States as well

  • Pure samples of telltale xenon-133 gas help detectors sniff out nuclear tests

    Nuclear explosions produce an excited form of the radioactive gas xenon-133, called xenon-133m, in which the atomic nucleus is boosted to a higher-energy state, but it is not known exactly how sensitive detectors are to this form because there has been no way to make pure samples of xenon-133m with which to test them; until now

  • Obama administration to unveil nuclear weapons policy

    The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review was initially scheduled for release late last year, and then again for 1 March, but it is coming; it will lay out the administration’s justifications and strategy for maintaining a nuclear arsenal, and will be important in guiding work throughout the energy department, including at the primary weapons laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California

  • A nuclear Iran may be good for U.S. defense industry

    A defense expert says that the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran will lead to growth in exports of American weapons systems, training, and advice to U.S. Middle Eastern allies; this would give the American defense industry a needed shot in the arm; Boeing has been making noise about shifting out of the defense industry, which would mean lost American jobs and would also put the United States in a difficult position should it be threatened by a rising military power like China; “a nuclear Iran could forestall such a catastrophe”