CIA CREST database and Geolocation

TitleRecently, to the delight of the OSINT community, the CIA updated its CREST digital library with the addition of upwards of 800,000 new files. While much of the credit for the agency’s initiative is due to the perseverance of journalist Mike Best (perhaps we should also spare a thought for the CIA employees who were likely on ‘scan and document’ duty
in the basement for their first few years of service), granting digital access to the 13 million pages is a welcomed act of compliance and transparency to researchers and citizens alike. Many of the documents made available date from the 50s through to the 80s and some contain guides on opening sealed letters and invisible writing, as well as reports stating the ‘total lack of evidence’ of UFOs.

Admittedly, it is quite fun to rummage through papers with titles worthy of an X-files episode; however, we endeavoured to find how such newly available information might be relevant to non-proliferation research today. This post will serve both to illustrate the type of valuable information the CREST database can offer, and to demonstrate some useful geolocation techniques.

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E-Commerce and Nuclear Weapons

On Thursday, police in Japan announced they were prosecuting a man who was caught selling Americium. He bought the material on the internet. But how did he get hold of it so easily?

Americium-241m, the form that was involved, could be used in a nuclear weapon. Americium is not normally the material you think of when talking about nuclear weapons, usually it’s uranium and plutonium. In fact, it has never been used in any nuclear weapons test or is in any current device. However, an Americium weapon is possible.

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