• Bold Action Can End Era of Pandemic Threats By 2030

    The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense has called on the federal government to urgently implement the recommendations specified in its new report, The Apollo Program for Biodefense: Winning the Race Against Biological Threats. The report details an ambitious program to develop and deploy the technologies needed to defend against all biological threats, empower public health, and prevent pandemics.

  • Pandemic Shows Need for Biological Readiness

    President Joe Biden’s inauguration comes during the worst stage of the deadliest biological event of our lifetimes. As bad as this pandemic is, imagine if instead it were caused by the deliberate release of a sophisticated biological weapon. About 2 percent of those infected have died of COVID-19, while a disease such as smallpox kills at a 30 percent rate. A bioengineered pathogen could be even more lethal. Our failed response to the pandemic in 2020 has exposed a gaping vulnerability to biological threats, ranging from natural outbreaks to deliberate biological weapons attacks.

  • Unifying U.S. Atmospheric Biology Research to Prevent Risks to National Security

    Global circulating winds can carry bacteria, fungal spores, viruses and pollen over long distances and across national borders, but the United States is ill-prepared to confront future disease outbreaks or food-supply threats caused by airborne organisms. In the United States, research and monitoring of airborne organisms is split between an array of federal agencies. The lack of coordination and information-sharing can effectively cripple the U.S. response to national security threats, such as pandemics.

  • Iran Vows 20 Percent Uranium Enrichment “As Soon As Possible”

    Iran said on January 2 that it plans to enrich uranium up to 20 percent purity at its underground Fordow nuclear facility “as soon as possible,” a level far above limits set by an international nuclear accord. Iran’s public announcement come a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Tehran had revealed its intention in a letter to the UN nuclear watchdog.

  • Analyzing Forensic Signatures of Nuclear Materials to Prevent Smuggling

    A scientific exercise scenario involved seized nuclear materials for which law enforcement requested nuclear forensic analysis to help discern whether the process histories of the two seized materials were consistent with one another and related to similar materials seized previously by authorities. The exercise was part of an international nuclear forensic drill in support of a simulated nuclear smuggling investigation.

  • Nuclear Waste Storage Canisters to Be Tested

    Three 22.5-ton, 16.5-feet-long stainless-steel storage canisters, with heaters and instrumentation to simulate nuclear waste so researchers can study their durability, will be tested at Sandia National Lab. The three canisters have never contained any nuclear materials. They will be used to study how much salt gathers on canisters over time. Sandia will also study the potential for cracks caused by salt- and stress-induced corrosion with additional canisters that will be delivered during the next stage of the project.

  • K9 Chemistry: A Safer Way to Train Detection Dogs

    Trained dogs are incredible chemical sensors, far better at detecting explosives, narcotics and other substances than even the most advanced technological device. But one challenge is that dogs have to be trained, and training them with real hazardous substances can be inconvenient and dangerous.

  • European Powers "Deeply Worried" By Iran's Uranium Enrichment Plans

    Britain, France, and Germany say Iran’s apparent plan to install additional advanced centrifuges at its main nuclear enrichment facility is “deeply worrying” and contrary to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. A confidential report by the UN’s atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Iran plans to install three more cascades of advanced IR-2m centrifuges in its underground plant at Natanz.

  • Iran Violating 2015 Nuclear Deal Again with Use of Advanced Centrifuges: Reuters

    Reuters obtained a confidential IAEA report which says that Iran plans to install more advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges at an underground plant in breach of its troubled deal with major powers. The confidential IAEA report said Iran plans to install three more clusters of advanced IR-2m centrifuges in the underground plant at Natanz, located about 300 kilometers south of the capital, Tehran.

  • Students of Nuclear Security Have a Problem. Here’s How to Help Them.

    Radioactive materials are attractive targets to thieves and other bad actors. These are rare finds, valuable on the black market and relatively easy to weaponize. New security professionals rarely learn practical skills for protecting these targets until they are on the job at nuclear power plants, research reactors, processing plants and other nuclear facilities.

  • New Information on Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

    A new report offers the most comprehensive investigative report to date on Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), the entity at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons program. The report contains new information on how the Syrian government orchestrated attacks using sarin, a banned nerve agent whose use is considered a war crime.

  • Marine Organisms as Underwater Detectives

    Because marine organisms observe changes in their environment using a combination of senses, they offer unique insights into the underwater world that are difficult to replicate using traditional engineering techniques. DARPA wants to leverage marine organisms for persistent monitoring and detection of underwater vehicles to bolster shores and harbors protection.

  • Mystery Over Russian’s Suspected Poisoning Deepens with New FBI Records

    RFE/RL Exclusive: In hundreds of FBI documents obtained exclusively by RFE/RL, new clues to the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza — and new details about how serious the U.S. government considered his case.

  • How Putin Borrowed a Page from Assad’s Chemical Weapon Playbook

    Russia use of Novichock to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny highlights a problem against which Western countries have not yet been able to devise an effective policy: the use of chemical weapons by authoritarian regimes against domestic regime critics. Preventing Russia, or any other autocratic ruler, from using poisons against domestic opponents is a tall order, Gregory D. Koblentz writes, but “Understanding the motivations of authoritarian leaders, and the intensity of their concerns about regime security, however, is the first step towards devising an effective strategy for deterring their use of chemical, and possibly someday biological, weapons against their own people.”

  • Radiation 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.