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Britain’s biggest security risks laid bare

The Munich Security Conference opened today with a warning that international order is being weakened by tension between Washington and Pyongyang, strained NATO-Russia ties and the possible unravelling of landmark nonproliferation treaties. The world has moved much closer to the brink of a significant conflict over the past year, conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger said ahead of the meeting, which brings together the world s defence experts and policymakers. Theresa May is to address the conference on Saturday with a pledge to keep Britain s European Arrest Warrant and Europol links, The Sunday Times1 says .

The Prime Minister is also expected to reassure EU leaders about the UK s strategic direction post-Brexit. May s message will be that Britain wants a close security partnership with Europe, whatever else happens in the Brexit talks, says Politico2 s Jack Blanchard. But what are Britain s biggest security threats ? The Week examines the challenges facing the UK.


Former MI6 head Sir John Sawers says Britain must work out whether to align itself with Europe or the US post-Brexit, adding that consciously uncoupling from the EU will undoubtedly weaken Britain on the global stage. I think the country s become less confident . And less outward-looking itself . And now of course we are saddled with the Brexit negotiation, he said in a podcast interview with Prospect magazine3. While countries outside the EU cannot take part in the region s foreign policy decision-making, the Financial Times4 notes that the EU has said it wants a mechanism for specific dialogue and consultation with the UK in part because Britain has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The UK will have to beef up its diplomacy in Europe after steep cuts to the Foreign Office, adds the paper.

One European diplomat told the FT: The fact that you are not in the room means you have to spend a lot longer working out where the EU is going next . I have seen the size of the American delegation and the Norwegian delegation.


British Army chief General Sir Nicholas Carter says the threat from international terrorism has never been greater. It has diversified and is more dispersed, and we see the phenomenon that Daesh represents emerging in other parts of the world, Carter said in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute5.

The terrorism threat will continue to grow, resulting in a complicated tapestry of factors with extremist groups exploiting the chaos to seize territory and carve out an even larger foothold for themselves whence to launch attacks, including recruiting and inspiring our own citizens to acts of terror, he added. The long-term solution, Carter says, is to fix the causes of terrorism, which are invariably a lack of education, a lack of opportunity and a growing feeling of exclusion and isolation often.. . coupled with a lack of opportunity and therefore a sense of impotence .

National debt

Dan Coats, US director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee this week that America faces global and cyber threats from North Korea, Russia, Iran and China, in addition to an internal US security problem: the national debt.

I would urge all of us to recognise the need to address this challenge and to take action as soon as possible before a fiscal crisis occurs that truly undermines our ability to ensure our national security, said Coats, according to Business Insider.6 Britain may want to take note. UK debt7 was nearly 1.8 trillion at the end of July 2017, 87.5% of gross domestic product.

Killer robots

Killer robots may sound like a more existential threat but they re one that s no less real. Politico s8 Janosch Delcker has reported on the imminent arrival of fully autonomous weapons, otherwise known as killer robots. Nothing illustrates the revolutionary nature of fully autonomous weapons better than the recent development of swarming drones small, unmanned aircraft operating in groups that could soon outperform existing military technology, he writes.

The size of swarms is limited now to hundreds of aircraft but ultra-cheap, 3D-printed drones are being developed that, researchers believe, could be deployed as swarms of millions of tiny, insect-like craft within the next five to 10 years.


  1. ^ Sunday Times (
  2. ^ Politico (
  3. ^ in a podcast interview with Prospect magazine (
  4. ^ Financial Times (
  5. ^ speech at the Royal United Services Institute (
  6. ^ Business Insider (
  7. ^ UK debt (
  8. ^ Politico s (

Brexit will undermine European security unless new agreement with EU is struck quickly, Theresa May is warned

Brexit1 will seriously undermine European security unless a new cooperation agreement can be struck quickly with the EU, Theresa May2 is warned today.

The alarm is raised over everything from the undermining of cross-border working to combat terrorism and organised crime to the potential boost to extremist parties across the continent. The clock is ticking on hopes for a new deal, with the UK set to drop out of cooperation mechanisms on foreign, security and defence policy on Brexit day next March, says the Royal United Services Institute3 (RUSI). Its warning comes as the Prime Minister prepares to deliver a speech to a Munich conference on Saturday, in which she will repeat her unconditional commitment to European security after Brexit.

Mrs May is expected to say that she wants Britain to remain part of the European arrest warrant4 and Europol5, the EU s law enforcement agency, arguing it is keeping British citizens safe. However, last November, Michel Barnier6, the EU s Brexit negotiator, insisted the UK would have to leave Europol as a logical consequence of the vote to leave the EU7. Meanwhile, the swapping of vital intelligence information is threatened by Mrs May s insistence that the UK will, at some point during a two-year transition period, end oversight by the European Court of Justice8 (ECJ).

Without a separate deal, it will take up to three years after Brexit for Britain as a third country to receive EU approval for data to be freely exchanged. But today s report by RUSI highlights the threat to cross-border cooperation as just one looming danger from EU withdrawal, also pointing to the risk it will:

* Further strengthen nationalist political forces across Europe , if a hard Brexit undermines the economic recovery in both the UK and the EU.

* Damage trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic threatening the fragile political settlement in the North.

* Lead to growing divergence between the UK and EU s defence and security policies once the UK is shut out of Brussels decision-making.

* See the UK lose its leading role in European military operations, such as operational command of the EU force in Bosnia.

* Require new arrangements to support a pan-European defence industry, with the UK likely to leave the European Defence Fund (EDF). Professor Malcolm Chalmers, RUSI s deputy director general, said all the threats would have costs, both financially and in relation to national security .

These costs can be mitigated over time, both through other existing multilateral arrangements and new bilateral mechanisms, he said.

However, these are real concerns, and, in combination, could risk serious negative consequences for European security.

On terror information, Professor Chalmers called for the Prime Minister to set out whether she would continue current levels of cooperation (for example, in relation to data-sharing), even when this involves a loss of policymaking autonomy . At stake is access to intelligence sharing through the Europol law enforcement agency and to the Schengen information system, which holds an 8,000-name watchlist of suspected terror suspects. Without a deal, separate agreements would have to be struck with individual police forces and intelligence services with the danger that vital information will fall between the cracks , experts have warned.

In his speech, Mr Barnier raised the fear that the UK would pursue horse-trading with the security of Europe s citizens in the Brexit negotiations.

Brexit Will Undermine European Security Unless New Agreement With EU Is Struck Quickly, Theresa May Is WarnedReuse content9


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  7. ^ would have to leave Europol as a logical consequence of the vote to leave the EU (
  8. ^ European Court of Justice (
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One person shot as car rams National Security Agency headquarters

At least one person has been shot near America’s National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland. Police responded to the shooting at the NSA’s Fort Meade campus after a black SUV rammed a barrier – reportedly at around 7.15am local time. Within 90 minutes, the agency said the security threat was over and the situation under control.

Image: A White House statement confirmed the President had been briefed

Cheryl Phillips, Fort Meade Garrison spokesperson, confirmed one person had been taken to hospital after being injured in the shooting. However, local media reported that three people were injured and one arrested, but this has not been confirmed. On Twitter, FBI Baltimore wrote: “The #FBI is aware of the incident at Fort Meade and we are sending personnel to respond at this time.” It later confirmed the incident had been “contained”.

An NSA spokesman told ABC: “NSA police and local law enforcement are addressing an incident that took place this morning at one of NSA’s secure vehicle entry gates. “The situation is under control and there is no ongoing security or safety threat.”

US President Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting, the White House confirmed. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected,” it said in a statement.

Image: Helicopter shots showed the back SUV involved

An aerial image, seen from a WRC-TV helicopter, shows police and fire response vehicles outside the NSA gates. Bullet holes can be seen in the SUV’s front window and the air bags have been deployed. A man appears to be handcuffed and surrounded by police. According to Fox5, the incident happened close to the visitors’ gate at around 7.15am local time (12.15pm GMT).

Image: Police reportedly arrested a suspect

The National Security Agency is an intelligence agency of the US Department of Defense. The secretive agency uses technology, including monitoring the internet, to track the government’s adversaries. In March 2015, two people tried to drive a SUV through the NSA’s gates and were shot at by officers when they refused to stop.

One of the vehicle’s occupants was killed.