Technology

Syria: Bashar al-Assad has 'spread chemical weapons around 50 sites'

Syria: Bashar al-Assad has ‘spread chemical weapons around 50 sites’

An elite and secretive military unit compromised of members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect has been moving nerve agents and munitions for several months, US officials told the Wall Street Journal in a bid to make them harder to track. Officials said they were still reasonably confident about the location of most of the regime’s estimated 1,000 tons of chemical and… Read more →

Admiral warns US in danger of Navy becoming Sub Par

Admiral warns US in danger of Navy becoming Sub Par

China, Russia, and Iran pose regional and strategic submarine threats and are building up undersea warfare capabilities as the Navy is cutting its submarine force by 30 percent, the admiral in charge of Pentagon submarine programs told Congress on Thursday. Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, director of Navy undersea warfare programs, said the decline of U.S. submarines is placing a key… Read more →

(CNN) – Throughout much of the 1990s, U.N. weapons inspectors criss-crossed Iraq in search of Saddam Hussein’s stocks of chemical weapons. It was a game of cat and mouse, as inspectors tried to reconcile what the Iraqi regime was telling them with conflicting intelligence from western governments.

In total, the inspectors of the U.N. Special Commission supervised the destruction of more than 40,000 chemical munitions, some 500,000 liters of chemical agents, 1.8 million liters of chemical precursors and delivery systems including ballistic missile warheads.

That experience may provide a glimpse of the obstacles to securing and removing or destroying Syria’s massive stocks of the precursors that make chemical weapons. According to a new study by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, “Syria has accumulated since the 1980s a stockpile of approximately 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, stored in some 50 different sites.”

 

CNN has the full article

 Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago

Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago

Israel is believed to have secretly developed a range of chemical weapons in the 1960s and 70s as further defense against an attack by the surrounding enemy states, according to a report in Foreign Policy, which quotes a “secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate.” The CIA document, Foreign Policy says, states that US satellites in 1982 found “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve… Read more →

RT sources: Syrian rebels plan chem attack on Israel from Assad-controlled territories

A chemical attack may be launched on Israel by Syrian rebels from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation,” multiple sources told RT.

The report comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrovproposed that Syria puts its chemical weapons arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction in order to prevent a possible military strike against the war-torn country.

Moscow also urged Syrian authorities to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The offer has already been passed over to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Monday.

We don’t know if Syria will accept the offer, but if imposing international control over chemical weapons stored in the country can help to avoid military strikes, we are immediately going to start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has welcomed Moscow’s initiative, “based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Muallem said later on Monday.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice made a statement saying that Damascus’ alleged “use of chemical weapons against its own people” posed a threat to US national security. “The use of chemical weapons also directly threatens our closest ally in the region, Israel,” she said, speaking at the New America Foundation in Washington.

 

RT has the full article

 

This image comes from a presentation called "Your target isusing a BlackBerry?...

The US intelligence agency NSA has been taking advantage of the smartphone boom. It has developed the ability to hack into iPhones, android devices and even the BlackBerry, previously believed to be particularly secure.

Michael Hayden has an interesting story to tell about the iPhone. He and his wife were in an Apple store in Virginia, Hayden, the former head of the United States National Security Agency (NSA), said at a conference in Washington recently. A salesman approached and raved about the iPhone, saying that there were already “400,000 apps” for the device. Hayden, amused, turned to his wife and quietly asked: “This kid doesn’t know who I am, does he? Four-hundred-thousand apps means 400,000 possibilities for attacks.”

Hayden was apparently exaggerating only slightly. According to internal NSA documents from the Edward Snowden archive that SPIEGEL has been granted access to, the US intelligence service doesn’t just bug embassies and access data from undersea cables to gain information. The NSA is also extremely interested in that new form of communication which has experienced such breathtaking success in recent years: smartphones.

In Germany, more than 50 percent of all mobile phone users now possess a smartphone; in the UK, the share is two-thirds. About 130 million people in the US have such a device. The mini-computers have become personal communication centers, digital assistants and life coaches, and they often know more about their users than most users suspect.

For an agency like the NSA, the data storage units are a goldmine, combining in a single device almost all the information that would interest an intelligence agency: social contacts, details about the user’s behavior and location, interests (through search terms, for example), photos and sometimes credit card numbers and passwords.

No Access Necessary

All the images were apparently taken with smartphones. A photo taken in January 2012 is especially risqué: It shows a former senior government official of a foreign country who, according to the NSA, is relaxing on his couch in front of a TV set and taking pictures of himself — with his iPhone. To protect the person’s privacy, SPIEGEL has chosen not to reveal his name or any other details.

The access to such material varies, but much of it passes through an NSA department responsible for customized surveillance operations against high-interest targets. One of the US agents’ tools is the use of backup files established by smartphones. According to one NSA document, these files contain the kind of information that is of particular interest to analysts, such as lists of contacts, call logs and drafts of text messages. To sort out such data, the analysts don’t even require access to the iPhone itself, the document indicates. The department merely needs to infiltrate the target’s computer, with which the smartphone is synchronized, in advance. Under the heading “iPhone capability,” the NSA specialists list the kinds of data they can analyze in these cases. The document notes that there are small NSA programs, known as “scripts,” that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iPhone 3 and 4 operating systems. They include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as the Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger applications.

The NSA analysts are especially enthusiastic about the geolocation data stored in smartphones and many of their apps, data that enables them to determine a user’s whereabouts at a given time.

According to one presentation, it was even possible to track a person’s whereabouts over extended periods of time, until Apple eliminated this “error” with version 4.3.3 of its mobile operating system and restricted the memory to seven days.

Still, the “location services” used by many iPhone apps, ranging from the camera to maps to Facebook, are useful to the NSA. In the US intelligence documents, the analysts note that the “convenience” for users ensures that most readily consent when applications ask them whether they can use their current location.

 

Spiegel.de has the full article

(Photo: This image comes from a presentation called “Your target isusing a BlackBerry? Now what?” It shows an email from a Mexican government agency which was sent using BlackBerry encryption technology — and intercepted by the NSA nonetheless.)

Assad threatens 'repercussions' if US launches strike on Syria

Assad threatens ‘repercussions’ if US launches strike on Syria

Syrian President Bashar Assad, during an interview that aired Monday morning, threatened “repercussions” from any American attack on Syria. The Syrian leader, speaking with CBS News, said the U.S. can expect “every action” if America strikes. He suggested retaliation could come from the opposition, as well as his own government and its allies. “You should expect everything,” Assad said. Asked to… Read more →

IAEA is looking into Russian warning on Syria nuclear site

IAEA is looking into Russian warning on Syria nuclear site

Moscow calls on UN nuclear watchdog to assess risk of hit to Syrian research reactor that contains radioactive uranium. VIENNA – The UN nuclear watchdog has received a request from Russia to assess the impact if a missile were to hit a small Syrian reactor and is considering the issue, the Vienna-based agency said on Friday. Russia said this week… Read more →

Iran significantly expands uranium enrichment capacity at nuclear plant, UN watchdog says

Iran significantly expands uranium enrichment capacity at nuclear plant, UN watchdog says

Iran has significantly expanded its uranium enrichment capacity at one nuclear plant, installing around 1,000 advanced centrifuges that are set to undergo testing, a new U.N. watchdog report says. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s quarterly report also says Iran has started making fuel assemblies for a nuclear reactor that Western powers fear could yield bomb material, according to Reuters. The… Read more →