• UN body approves measure advancing Iran's nuke program

    The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), over a strenuous U.S. opposition, approved a measure committing the UN to supporting what the Iranians call a “disaster information management center”; the United States managed to defeat the Iranian proposal for the center several times in the past, but this time Iran, exploiting concerns about climate change, repackaged its proposal and tied it to a broader UN effort to help Asian countries prepare for climate change-induced natural disasters; the technologies with which the center will be provided — technologies which are otherwise unavailable to Iran because of the UN sanctions imposed on the country — will give Iran much-improved satellite-imagery and missile-control capabilities; these technologies will dramatically bolster Iran’s target selection, target-destruction, and bomb-damage-assessment capabilities; as is the case with any other new nuclear weapon state, Iran will initially have very few nuclear bombs in its arsenal; the technologies approved by ESCAP for delivery to Iran will allow the ayatollahs to make a much more efficient — and effective — use of their small arsenal — and make their threats to use this arsenal more credible

  • Boulder Colorado hit with plague and rabies

    On 3 June, the Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) department warned residents of the Mapleton Hill area that a domestic cat and a dead squirrel had tested positive for the plague; according to Joe Malinowski, the manager of BCPH’s Environmental Health Division, last week a second dead squirrel was found with the plague, but the cat had been successfully treated for the disease; so far there have been no other confirmed cases, but residents have reported several additional dead squirrels

  • House representatives battle for control of TSA

    Representatives Pete King (R-New York) and John Mica (R-Florida) are battling for control over jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); currently, King’s Homeland Security Committee oversees TSA as airport security checkpoints are manned by DHS employees — making TSA the only government transportation agency that Mica’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee does not have jurisdiction over; last week Mica introduced an amendment that could place TSA under his committee’s control by moving to require TSA to hire private contractors to conduct airport screenings, thus removing DHS from the equation — and from King’s jurisdiction

  • Iran to enrich uranium to 20 percent

    Iran said it was planning to begin enriching uranium to 20 percent, bringing its stock closer to bomb-grade level; it will also shift its enrichment activities from Natanz to Qom

  • Iran pushes ahead with nuke plans, despite seismic warnings

    Iranian officials have chosen to ignore the warnings of top scientists and continue with the construction of nuclear facilities near earthquake prone regions; according to an official with the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a top level meeting Iran’s leaders recently decided to move ahead with plans to construct nuclear facilities, despite Iranian scientists’ warnings that “data collected since the year 2000 shows the incontrovertible risks of establishing nuclear sites in the proximity of fault lines’ in Khuzestan as well as nineteen other Iranian provinces; Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world with major fault lines covering at least 90 percent of it

  • WikiLeaks: Japan brushes aside U.S. fears of nuke terrorism

    Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveal that U.S. officials were concerned about terrorist attacks at Japan’s nuclear facilities and the government’s seemingly lax security measures; one cable dated 26 February 2007, detailed a meeting where Japanese officials brushed aside U.S. concerns for physical security at one of the country’s nuclear facilities; additional cables sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to Washington D.C. reported that anti-terrorism drills held at nuclear facilities were unrealistic and overly “scripted”

  • U.S. can curb carbon emissions while boosting domestic oil production

    A report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Texas at Austin urges the United States to accelerate efforts to pursue carbon capture and storage (CCS) in combination with enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a practice that could increase domestic oil production while significantly curbing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)

  • Biometric meetings to tackle security issues

    A meeting in Washington, D.C. on 5-6 May, organized by the Centre for Policy on Emerging Technologies , this event is part of the RISE project (Rising pan-European and International Awareness on Biometrics and Security Ethics), a task 2 initiative sponsored by the Directorate European Research Area of the European Commission that aims to contribute to the creation of a common strategic vision on responsible biometric innovation among the main international players, will address the issue of biometric security in a global perspective

  • Iran admits Stuxnet's damage

    A senior Iranian official admitted that the Stuxnet malware, which infected tens of thousands of computers and servers used in Iran’s nuclear weapons complex inflicted serious damage on Iran’s nuclear program, including large-scale accidents and loss of life

  • Nuclear terrorism is a preventable catastrophe

    Graham Allison, a nuclear proliferation expert, warns of the seriousness of the threat of nuclear terrorism and the ease with which rogue states or terrorists groups can obtain weapons or fissile material and the knowledge essential to developing production capability; “The number of rogue states and terrorist groups seeking to acquire nuclear weapons is increasing. There are a number of states willing to sell it to anyone, and a larger number of sites where enriched weapons grade plutonium and uranium can be found in conditions where they might be vulnerable to theft due to lack of security,” he says

  • U.S. and Israel were behind Stuxnet claims expert

    Stuxnet first came to light in July 2010. Nearly 60 percent of reported infections were inside Iran; the worm targets industrial control systems, known as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), made by Siemens; Ralph Langner told a conference in California that the malicious software was designed to cripple systems that could help build an Iranian bomb; in a recent report on Stuxnet, the security firm Symantec said that it would have taken a team of between five and ten developers, six months to create the worm; Langner said that the project would have required “inside information”, so detailed that “they probably knew the shoe size of the operator.”

  • Rebels reject talks unless Gaddafi goes

    Rebels in eastern Libya have said they will not negotiate unless Col. Muammar Gaddafi quits and goes into exile; the National Libyan Council in the city of Benghazi also called again for foreign intervention to stop government air raids against the rebels; the International Criminal Court meanwhile said it would investigate Col. Gaddafi and some of his sons for crimes against humanity; President Barack Obama repeated his demand that the embattled ruler resign

  • In a setback, Iran unloads nuclear fuel from Busheher reactor

    Iran announced Saturday it was unloading nuclear fuel from the Bushehr reactor, signaling more problems for the Russian-built plant after decades of delay; a source close to the project said the fuel was being unloaded on the suspicion that metal particles from nearly 30-year old equipment used in the construction of reactor core had contaminated the fuel; a senior Iranian official said earlier this month that suggestions should be investigated that the Stuxnet computer worm, believed to have been an attempt by Iran’s enemies to sabotage the nuclear program, had caused harm to the 1,000 megawatt Bushehr reactor

  • No, a Boy Scout cannot build a backyard nuclear reactor

    Dirty bombs are easy to build and only require strapping explosives to radioactive material; in counter-terrorism circles there is a myth that in 1995 a Boy Scout was able to assemble enough radioactive materials to build a nuclear reactor in his backyard in Michigan by gathering all of his materials from common household items; he dismantled lanterns to obtain Thorium, smoke detectors for Americium, and old clock dials for Radium; analysts say that it would take material from roughly two million smoke detectors to build a dirty bomb that would cause any damage

  • The past as prologue: The Galant affair

    On Monday, General Benny Ganz replaced General Gabi Ashkenazi as the IDF chief of staff; in the four months leading to Ganz’s appointment Israel witnessed a bitter fight over the government’s preferred candidate, General Yoav Galant; pragmatists in the higher echelons of Israel national security establishment resolved to do all they can to prevent Galant, a hawk’s hawk, from becoming chief of staff; the pragmatists’ main worry: the moderate Ashkenazi served as a break on the government’s more hawkish tendencies, and they were afraid that Galant would only reinforce these tendencies, leading to an unnecessary attack on Iran; the pragmatists succeeded, and Galant’s nomination was killed, but it now appears that the more moderate elements in Israel’s defense establishment took extreme measures — including forging documents — to achieve their goal