USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace

Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 30, 2010 - January 5, 2011

Table of Contents

Stuxnet Attack on Iran Nuclear Program Came About a Year Ago, Report Says
The Stuxnet cyberweapon may have destroyed as many as 1,000 Iranian nuclear-fuel centrifuges - more than one-tenth of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant's capacity - in late 2009 and early 2010, according to a recent report by a nuclear arms-control watchdog group."If its goal was to quickly destroy all the centrifuges ... Stuxnet failed," [a report from the Institute for Science and International Security concluded.] "But if the goal was to destroy a more limited number of centrifuges and set back Iran's progress in operating the [enrichment facility] while making detection difficult, it may have succeeded, at least temporarily."
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Mark Clayton, 1/3/11)
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With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'We Can See Everything'
In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools. This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Craig Whitlock, 1/2/11)
Click to read "On the Issues: Afghanistan and Pakistan 2010 Review," by USIP's William B Taylor.
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George Clooney Hopes Satellites Will Shed Light on Sudan
Actor and activist George Clooney said today he hopes that technology can bring public attention to the border region of Sudan and prevent potential violence and even genocide after a critical referendum there next week. The Satellite Sentinel Project, backed by Clooney and John Prendergast of the Enough Project, will provide high-resolution images of the border region that the public can monitor on the project's website, in hopes of drawing attention to the region in case of violence after the referendum.
See the full article (ABC, Imitiyaz Delawala, 1/2/11)
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Budget Crisis Threatens Future of US Science
American domination in science and technology is threatened by a budget crisis that could sap research investment just as competitors such as China are boosting spending, US experts say. Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said "virtually all competitor countries are increasing investments in science and engineering research. US funding looks like it could be heading the opposite direction."
See the full article (AFP, Jean-Louis Santini, 12/31/10)
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Cyber-Sabotage and Espionage Top 2011 Security Fears
The biggest security concerns for the coming year will be cyber-sabotage and cyber-espionage, say industry experts. They cite the success of the Stuxnet worm in attacking industrial control systems as a prime example of what to expect in 2011. Other predictions include a rise in sophisticated malware, Wikileaks-style breaches and a focus on mobile.
See the full article (BBC, Maggie Shiels, 12/30/10)
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