Loose nukes? Got a solution? Contact the State Department
August 28th, 2012
05:13 PM ET

Loose nukes? Got a solution? Contact the State Department

By Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Have an idea about how to prevent "loose nukes" from falling into the hands of terrorists? The State Department wants to hear from you.

The department is launching what it's calling the Innovation in Arms Control Challenge, which urges "garage tinkerers and technologists ... gadget entrepreneurs and students," to come up with innovative new ideas to support U.S. arms control and nonproliferation efforts.

For winners there will be an award of up to $10,000.

Arms control diplomacy, usually considered the arcane specialty of nerdy and secretive scientists, began at the height of the Cold War, but it's now happening in the open and it's changing fast.

With the explosion in information technologies, the State Department believes there are plenty of ideas out there to make arms control more transparent. For example, in announcing the challenge, the State Department asks: "Can smart phone and tablet applications be created for the purpose of aiding on-site inspectors in verifying and monitoring armaments and sensitive materials?"

Rose Gottemoeller, acting under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, a self-described "arms control policy wonk and negotiator," calls the challenge an "experiment in (innovative) thinking."

She said the State Department is asking if there are "new ways that we can use existing data, such as Twitter streams, to generate information that will be useful to arms control and nonproliferation verification and monitoring? Are there ways that we can help our inspectors to do their jobs better, by having better tools available? Are there ways that governments and citizens can work together to ensure better monitoring and verification of treaties and agreements?"

The call for innovative ideas comes as the Obama administration is moving to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, but Gottemoeller, who negotiates America's arms control treaties, says officials also are looking for ways to monitor things such as chemical munitions in storage facilities.

"We're basically trying to see what's out there," said an administration official familiar with the challenge but not authorized to speak on the record. "What available technology is out there that can help us? What is being put into practice in other areas - it could be unrelated to arms control - that actually would have similar implications for what we're trying to do?"

The Innovation in Arms Control Challenge runs until October 26, and is open to all U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Interested innovators can register at: www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933144


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  1. Bess

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  3. tonyh110

    bunch of over payed over educated yahoo's cant figure so leave it to savvy practical people in garages and basements to find practical solutions THEN those yahoo's can claim the credit – yes government at work

    August 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  4. glennrobert

    The concept of arms control fails. The book "The Seventh Decade" by Jonathan Schell describes how in 70 years there has never been a real policy concerning atomic weapons. There are 27,000 atomic weapons spread all over the earth and the use of 200 would be a major disaster. Yes, we worry ourselves sick over Iran getting the bomb and ignore the present world wide threat caused by there mere existence. The fact they exist means that some day they will be used. (?)

    August 30, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
  5. Steve

    I am for hire state department

    August 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  6. saeed

    what can i say usa and britain are bitc,ching about chinese progress the chang e 2 space probe went to the moon and from there to L2 Lagrangian point and now its cruising after the 4179 Toutatis astroid the age of usa is finished the onlything that remains is the onslaught all british australian and usa children are going to be kil,lled we gonna even nuke ireland hahahahhaah im cruising down the street with big smile and laughing.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Reply
    • cake 55

      Fok u chnaman. U go poo poo in public now like good chinaman.

      August 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Reply
    • Tron

      Let the nice Nurse give you your meds so you can go back to your crayons and coloring book.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:35 am | Reply
  7. D

    Sounds like the state department hired a bunch of idiots and needs a new team

    August 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  8. krm1007 ©™

    The denuclearization of South Asia (Subcontinent) particularly India is imperative.
    Quid pro quo transfer of nuclear technology by USA to third world countries such as India needs to be opposed on moral grounds. Billions of people live in that neighborhood and would be at risk from such catastrophes which I am sure the American people would not like to be a party to. We are all well aware that that region is prone to floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, massive power blackouts and of course terrorism placing such nuclear installations at tremendous risks. US Congress is urged to reconsider and cancel all the agreements for the transfer of such technologies due “Force Majeure”.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Reply

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