Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
"Dirty Bomb" Lessons Seen in Japanese Nuclear Crisis
The disaster unfolding at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has provided the U.S. military with new experience operating in a contaminated environment comparable to the site of a potential radiological "dirty bomb" strike, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday (see GSN, May 25).
The military's readiness for dire combat situations could benefit from Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. armed forces' effort to help Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 dead or missing and damaged a nuclear power plant (see related GSN story, today), Marine Corps personnel in the region said last week at an information session for Gen. James Amos, the head of the service. The ailing nuclear facility has hemorrhaged radioactive material into the environment on a level not seen since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
"What Tomodachi is probably going to be best known for ... is ... operations in the radioactive environment," said Lt. Col. Damien Marsh, who heads Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, which participated in the effort.
Marsh stressed the "strategic value" of the event, the first instance in which Marine Corps air assets performed in a setting affected by dispersed radioactive material. "It's not hard to believe that we could be responding someplace involving a disaster at a nuclear power plant, dirty bombs or terrorism" at a later date, he said.
Marine Corps troops based in Japan's Okinawa prefecture in part emphasized means to improve the integration of radiological, chemical and biological scenarios into preparatory efforts. The operation's effect on on the engineering and acquisition of new U.S. military equipment could remain uncertain at present, according to the Journal.
"This is varsity-level stuff," Amos said.
The initial Marine personnel sent to work within Japan's north in the aftermath of the disaster wore low-weight protective clothing, and they carried portable radiation sensors and potassium iodide tablets. Dosimeters placed on suits and air vehicles were intended to detect potential radiation absorption, according to information session participants. Personnel completed assessments each day of radioactive material dispersal around the island nation.
All technology, people and air assets were checked for radiation contamination following every Marine Corps flight in the affected area. While there was little human contact with radioactive material, 25 air vehicles had to undergo thorough cleansing.
A 145-person Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force's transfer to Japan ultimately had little utility, despite being a "savvy political move," one Marine Corps report states (Nathan Hodge, Wall Street Journal, June 21).
Nov. 27, 2012
Several U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements are set to expire in the next four years, and a long list of nuclear newcomers are interested in concluding new agreements with the United States. Jessica C. Varnum examines the debate over whether stricter nonproliferation preconditions for concluding these new and renewal "123" nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States would enhance or undermine their value as instruments of U.S. nonproliferation policy.
June 14, 2012
An article by Sidney Drell, George Shultz and Steve Andreasen published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science.
This article provides an overview of Japan’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.