Geoff Brumfiel

Geoff Brumfiel works as a senior editor and correspondent on NPR's science desk. His editing duties include climate and environment, while his reporting focuses on the intersection of science and national security.

From April of 2016 to September of 2018, Brumfiel served as an editor overseeing basic research and climate science. Prior to that, he worked for three years as a reporter covering physics and space for the network. Brumfiel has carried his microphone into ghost villages created by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. He's tracked the journey of highly enriched uranium as it was shipped out of Poland. For a story on how animals drink, he crouched for over an hour and tried to convince his neighbor's cat to lap a bowl of milk.

Before NPR, Brumfiel was based in London as a senior reporter for Nature Magazine from 2007-2013. There, he covered energy, space, climate, and the physical sciences. From 2002 – 2007, Brumfiel was Nature Magazine's Washington Correspondent.

Brumfiel is the 2013 winner of the Association of British Science Writers award for news reporting on the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Updated Dec. 12 at 4:20 p.m. ET

North Korea appears to be expanding a missile base in a remote, mountainous part of the country, according to new commercial satellite imagery studied by independent researchers.

After meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past June, President Trump was effusive.

"Our conversation was open, honest, direct and very, very productive," he said. "We produced something that is beautiful."

But after five months of canceled meetings and muted statements of dissatisfaction by both countries, experts say there is no sign of progress toward the Singapore goal of so-called "denuclearization" of the North.

Commercial satellite imagery has revealed the location and layout of a previously undisclosed North Korean missile base, including deep underground tunnels designed to house the weapons.

The Trump administration is imposing major sanctions on Iran, effectively ending America's participation in a nuclear deal it helped forge in 2015.

Effective Nov. 5, Iran will see sweeping sanctions imposed on its banking, shipping and petroleum sectors. The move will "put a vise on Iran's ability to conduct economic activities internationally," says Corey Hinderstein, a vice president at the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative.

President Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, is in Moscow for a second day Tuesday, to discuss the U.S. intent to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The end of the 31-year old treaty is a sign that world powers may be returning to an arms race mentality.

But it's not the only one.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Trump says he's planning to pull out of an international arms control agreement. As NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, it's a treaty signed by President Reagan designed to reduce the dangers of nuclear war.

Aric Toler isn't exactly sure what to call himself.

"Digital researcher, digital investigator, digital something probably works," Toler says.

Toler, 30, is part of an Internet research organization known as Bellingcat. Formed in 2014, the group first got attention for its meticulous documentation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Toler used posts to Russia's equivalent of Facebook, VK, to track Russian soldiers as they slipped in and out of eastern Ukraine — where they covertly aided local rebels.

Donna Strickland seemed genuinely surprised to learn that she was only the third woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in physics.

"Is that all, really?" a flummoxed Strickland asked during a press conference announcing the prize. "I thought there might have been more."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's a terrifying weapon: a nuclear-powered cruise missile that can fly anywhere on the planet, possibly spewing radioactivity as it goes. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his nation had successfully tested just such a machine.

But new satellite imagery of a remote Russian test site suggests that the missile may not be working as well as claimed.

North Korea announced today that it will permanently close a major missile test site. Kim Jong Un, the North's leader, said the site would be dismantled in the presence of international inspectors.

A Swiss laboratory likely involved in analyzing samples from a March chemical attack in Salisbury, England, has reportedly been targeted by Russian agents.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At the Pentagon today, Vice President Mike Pence laid out plans for a new branch of the military in outer space - a Space Force.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Experts have been left scratching their heads over one of the most concrete concessions President Trump says he received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during Tuesday's summit in Singapore.

At a press conference after their meeting, Trump said Kim had agreed to destroy "a major missile engine testing site."

Updated: 10:45 a.m. ET

North Korea closed its nuclear test site in spectacular fashion Thursday, blasting the site in what one observer described as a "huge explosion."

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy say they have successfully tested a new type of nuclear reactor that could one day provide juice to colonies on other worlds. The reactor can power several homes and appears able to operate in harsh environments.

Former weapons inspectors say an apparent trove of information on Iran's nuclear weapons program will increase pressure for more intrusive inspections of its atomic sites.

On Monday, the Israeli government disclosed it had obtained thousands of pages of documents and nearly 200 CDs' worth of data on Iran's nuclear program.

As chemical weapons inspectors wait to investigate an alleged strike near the Syrian capital of Damascus, former inspectors say the challenges the current team faces are daunting.

The inspectors arrived in Syria on April 14, on a mission to investigate a suspected chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma seven days earlier. Unconfirmed reports from the scene suggest that dozens may have died.

The type of nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. was developed in a top-secret laboratory in Moscow and was once a closely held secret of the Russian government.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found slumped on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4. Experts quickly assessed that Skripal — a former Russian intelligence official accused of spying for the British — had been poisoned with a nerve agent.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May named the agent in a speech before Parliament.

As the news broke of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, hundreds of Twitter accounts believed to be under Russian sway pivoted.

Many had been tweeting about places like Syria and Ukraine — countries where Russia is seeking to strengthen its influence. Suddenly the accounts shifted to hashtags like #guncontrol, #guncontrolnow and #gunreformnow. Tweets mentioning Nikolas Cruz, the name of the shooting suspect, spiked.

The Trump administration released a report on the state of America's nuclear weaponry on Friday. The assessment, known as a Nuclear Posture Review, mainly concerns U.S. nukes and missiles.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This year, deep inside a mountain, North Korea detonated a giant nuclear bomb.

The intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea launched on Wednesday appears to be significantly larger and more powerful than previous versions, according to independent analysts.

North Korea says a new intercontinental ballistic missile tested on Wednesday proves it has a nuclear deterrent that can reach any target in the United States.

According to a statement from the Korean Central News Agency, the ICBM is capable of carrying a "super-large heavy warhead, which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the U.S."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The tiny nation of Denmark has just three stations for monitoring atmospheric radiation. Each week, scientists change out air filters in the detectors and take the used ones to a technical university near Copenhagen.

There, Sven Poul Nielsen and other researchers analyze the filters. They often snag small amounts of naturally occurring radioactivity, radon for example.

European authorities are providing new details about a cloud of mysterious radioactive material that appeared over the continent last month.

Monitors in Italy were among first to detect the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 on Oct. 3, according to a fresh report by France's Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute, known as IRSN. In total, 28 European countries saw the radioactive cloud, the report says.

The speed and ferocity of the wildfires raging through Northern California's wine country have caught many residents off guard and left state officials scrambling to contain the flames.

But for fire researchers, these devastating blazes are part of a much larger pattern unfolding across the Western United States. So far this year, fires in the U.S. have consumed more than 8.5 million acres — an area bigger than the state of Maryland.

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