U.S. officials confirmed on Monday that they will launch an effort to help limit the prospect of “dirty bomb” attacks by working to phase out certain radiological materials.
“The United States intends to establish an international research effort on the feasibility of replacing high-activity radiological sources with non-isotopic replacement technologies, with the goal of producing a global alternative by 2016,” states a U.S. “progress report,” released Monday at the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands.
This unilateral “house gift” that U.S. officials offered at the biennial gathering of world leaders follows calls from nonproliferation advocates for the United States and United Kingdom to lead an effort that could enable a global phase-out of selected radiological materials used in the medical field.
As Global Security Newswire reported last week, a report from James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies suggested that hospitals and blood banks move away from the use of cesium chloride. The radioactive substance presently is used for irradiating blood prior to transfusion, in order to prevent a rare but lethal complication known as graft-versus-host disease.
Paired with conventional explosives, such substances could potentially be dispersed over a wide area in a dirty bomb attack, creating dangerous contamination.
The report says blood could be irradiated instead with electromagnetic radiation, such as X-rays or ultraviolet light, or by linear accelerators that many hospitals already have on hand for cancer treatments.
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The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.
"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."