Tag Archives: nuclear proliferation

Mega Data for Weapons of Mass Terrorism

Weapons of Mass Terrorism, image from wikipedia

DARPA is soliciting research proposals in the area of modeling adversarial activity for the purpose of producing high-confidence indications and warnings of efforts to acquire, fabricate, proliferate, and/or deploy weapons of mass terrorism (WMT)….

The goal of the Modeling Adversarial Activity (MAA) program is  to develop mathematical and computational techniques for the integration and analysis of multiple sources of transaction data … Currently, transaction data is used as a means to validate leads developed from traditional sources such as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). MAA assumes that an adversary’s WMT activities will result in observable transactions. …

MAA may draw on related domains, including human trafficking, smuggling of drugs, antiquities or rare wildlife species, and illegal arms dealing, during the creation of synthetic data sets to meet the need for a large amount and diverse types of synthetic data….

Excerpt from Broad Agency Announcement Modeling Adversarial Activity (MAA) DARPA-BAA-16-61, September 30, 2016

The Nuclear Proliferation Potential of Laser Enrichment

The following is being released by Physicians for Social Responsibility:  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is putting U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy at risk if it decides not to require a formal nuclear proliferation assessment as part of the licensing process for a uranium laser enrichment facility in Wilmington, N.C.  That’s the message from 19 nuclear non-proliferation experts in a letter sent today asking the NRC to fulfill its statutory responsibility to assess proliferation threats related to the technologies it regulates. The letter is available online at http://www.psr.org/nrcassessment.

Global Laser Enrichment, LLC, a joint venture of General Electric (USA), Hitachi (Japan) and Cameco (Canada), has applied for a license to operate a laser enrichment facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, based on Australian SILEX technology. The NRC licensing review schedule sets September 30, 2012 as the date of license issuance.  One of the authors of the letter, Catherine Thomasson, MD, executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility, said:“It is a widely shared view that laser enrichment could be an undetectable stepping-stone to a clandestine nuclear weapons program. To strengthen U.S. policy and protect the U.S. and the world from nuclear proliferation, the NRC should systematically and thoroughly assess the proliferation risks of any new uranium enrichment technology BEFORE issuing a license allowing their development.”  Dr. Ira Helfand, co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said: “If the U.S. is going to have moral authority in dealing with proliferation threats in other nations, such as Iran, it must do a better job of taking responsible steps in relation to proliferation threats in our own backyard. In fact, a persuasive case can be made that laser enrichment technology requires even more immediate action, since this is a known danger that can be addressed directly by the NRC under its existing regulatory authority.”

In the letter, the experts note that the NRC has no rules or requirements for a nuclear proliferation assessment as part of this licensing process. The experts are concerned that the Commission is falling short in its duties since a 2008 NRC manual on enrichment technology clearly states that laser enrichment presents “extra proliferation concerns due to the small size and high separation factors.”

Previous letters to the NRC asking for a proliferation assessment, signed by many of today’s signatories, have been rebuffed. NRC is on record stating that the National Environmental Policy Act does not require preparation of a proliferation assessment. However, a March 27, 2012 memorandum from the Congressional Research Service clearly concludes that the NRC has legal authority “to promulgate a regulation” requiring a proliferation assessment as part of the licensing process.  Both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 and the Atomic Energy Act are cited by the experts as statutory basis of the NRC’s responsibility to assess proliferation risks.

Excerpt, 19 Experts: Nuclear Proliferation Risks Of Laser Enrichment Require Fuller NRC Review, PRNewswire, Sept 5, 2012

Proliferation Risks of Laser Enrichment

Laser Uranium Enrichment

Iranian Nuclear Program: turning the screws on

The U.N. atomic agency plans to reveal intelligence next week suggesting Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead and other previously undisclosed details on alleged secret work by Tehran on nuclear arms, diplomats told The Associated Press.  Other new confidential information the International Atomic Energy Agency plans to share with its 35 board members will include satellite imagery of what the IAEA believes is a large steel container used for nuclear arms-related high explosives tests, the diplomats said.

The agency has previously listed activities it says indicate possible secret nuclear weapons work by Iran, which has been under IAEA perusal for nearly a decade over suspicions that it might be interested in develop such arms.  But the newest compilation of suspected weapons-related work is significant in substance and scope. The diplomats say they will reveal suspicions that have not been previously made public and greatly expand on alleged weapons-related experiments that have been published in previous reports on Iran’s nuclear activities.  It also comes as the drumbeat of reports about possible military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities intensifies.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said Friday that international community is closer to pursuing a military solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program than a diplomatic one. The comments, from a known dove, assumed added significance because they followed unsubstantiated reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking his government’s support for a strike against Tehran.  British media have separately cited unnamed British officials as saying London was prepared to offer military support to any U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  In Vienna, the diplomats — from IAEA member nations — asked for anonymity because their information was privileged. One of th said the material drawn up by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano will be in an annex running around 12 pages and attached to the latest of a regular series of agency reports on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and other activities that could be used to arm nuclear missiles.  Previously undisclosed information contained in the annex, said the diplomats, will include:

— Intelligence from unnamed member states that a bus-sized steel container, located at the Iranian military base of Parchin is likely being used for nuclear-related high explosives testing of the kind needed to release an atomic blast. The agency has satellite imagery of the container.

— Expanded evidence that Iranian engineers worked on computer models of nuclear payloads for missiles.

Significantly, said the diplomats, these alleged experiments took place after 2003 — the year that Iran was believed to have stopped secret work on nuclear weapons, according to a 2007 U.S. intelligence assessment. But diplomats have told the AP that Tehran continued arms-related experiments in a less concentrated way after that date, a view reflected by recent IAEA reports that have detailed suspicions that such work may be continuing up to the present.

The annex will also say that more than 10 nations have supplied intelligence suggesting Iran is secretly developing components of a nuclear arms program — among them an implosion-type warhead that it wants to mount on a ballistic missile.

It says that two foreign “sources” — apparently countries or nongovernment groups within countries — have helped Iran develop a weapons design, without naming them. And it details how Iran bought “dual use” — peaceful or military — nuclear technology from the black market network of renegade Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan, as well as alleged preparations for a nuclear weapons test.

The upcoming report is meant to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic republic to stop four years of stonewalling of IAEA experts seeking to follow up intelligence of such secret weapons-related experiments.  Iran denies such activities, asserting that they are based on intelligence fabricated by Washington. It also denies that its uanium enrichment program — under U.N. Security Council sanctions because it could manufacture fissile warhead material — is meant for anything else but making nuclear fuel.

In his previous report in September, Amano said he was “increasingly concerned” about a stream of intelligence suggesting that Iran continues to work secretly on developing a nuclear payload for a missile and other components of a nuclear weapons program.  He said “many member states” are providing evidence for that assessment, describing the information the agency is receiving as credible, “extensive and comprehensive.”  That report warned of the “possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities” linked to weapons work. In particular, said the report, the agency continues to receive new information about “activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”  Acquired from “many” member states, the information possessed by the IAEA is “extensive and comprehensive … (and) broadly consistent and credible,” said the report.

U.N. has new Iranian nuke arms claims, Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2011

See also the Security of Nuclear Materials