War on Terrorism

Monday, November 27, 2006

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News

November 27, 2006

Combating anthrax

“[A study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham], through the Centers for Disease Control, is being conducted nationwide at five separate centers and is helping to determine just how much of the anthrax vaccine the body needs to develop immunity. Soldiers, for example, get a course of eight vaccines over 3½ years. But transfers to far-off stations or even combat sometimes means skipping an injection. The study, among other things, is trying to find out if a person can get by with four injections.
Researchers also will use the results to determine the side effects from injecting the shot into the muscles of the upper arm rather than the fatty tissue farther down.” (The Birmingham News; William Thornton)

New agency would bolster biodefense

“After two years of delays, Congress is poised to pass biodefense legislation next month that would create a new federal agency to speed development of drugs for an array of infectious diseases that are bioterror threats... The bill that would establish the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, was passed unanimously by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in September...
[P]rogress in designing drugs to counter potential biological weapons has been slow. Vaccines in particular are enormously complex to design, take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring to the market and have limited use. Currently, there are only four major vaccine manufacturers left in the world... If passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush, BARDA will become an office under the Department of Health and Human Services, which already spends $4.2 billion a year to address bioterror threats...‘A key feature of strategy for HHS is to move from fixed defenses, what's called 'one bug, one drug,' to flexible defenses,’ said Smith. ‘This is a reflection of what a lot of people have been saying about how to develop new drugs and vaccines. The only way out of (the bioterror threat) is to make a broad defense against a wide array of infectious diseases both here and outside the U.S. -- that's our vision of victory.’” (The Star-Ledger; 26Nov06; Amy Ellis Nutt)

Labs need the tools to protect us

“Within the next several months, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [LLNL, California] plans to open a new building that will assist its scientists in developing detection technologies to help protect the United States against bioterrorism. The new building, called a Biosafety Level 3 facility, will permit Livermore researchers to conduct more sophisticated experiments on a wider range of microorganisms than can currently be handled... Dr. Caroline Purdy, of the Science and Technology directorate at DHS, said she believes the Livermore Biosafety Level 3 facility is important for continuing to upgrade the BioWatch system. ‘It is my professional opinion that LLNL's BSL-3 facility will significantly improve our nation's ability to detect and respond to the threat of terrorism using biological agents, and that delaying commencement of operations at LLNL's BSL-3 facility would directly and adversely impact the national security of the United States,' Purdy said... Activists have appealed a previous U.S. District Court decision affirming the opening of the facility, citing concerns about earthquake safety, security and possible releases... [However,] independent safety reviews have been conducted of the Livermore BSL-3 facility, design and operations to ensure that the facility will be safely operated.” (Contra Costa Times; 25Nov06; Colston)


Police Raid North Korea-Related Facilities

“A special Japanese
police unit has raided facilities connected to North Korea, the latest of a series of efforts to limit illegal exports to the country... Police say they are investigating an unauthorized attempt to smuggle 60 bags of intravenous solutions to North Korea six months ago...Japanese media say the liquids could have been used to make biochemical weapons. A spokesman for the association, who asks to be identified only as Mr. Jon, says that is not true... Police raided facilities in Tokyo and the city of Niigata affiliated with [the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan] ... Japan imposed trade and financial restrictions on North Korea and has halted shipping to the communist state following Pyongyang's nuclear test last month.” (Voice of America; 27Nov06; Steve Herman)

Russian officials deny report of accident at chemical weapons reprocessing site

“Russian officials denied reports Thursday that highly toxic chemicals had accidentally spilled from a weapons reprocessing facility in central Russia. Radio Liberty had quoted Tatyana Korolyovaya, an environmental activist in a town close to the Maradykovsky complex, as saying that several aviation bomb casings had ruptured during reprocessing and that toxic liquid had spilled onto the ground. The Maradykovsky plant, located
725 kilometers (450 miles) northeast of Moscow, holds 6,900 tons of nerve agents stored in aerial bombs and missile warheads — or more than 17 percent of Russia's chemical weapons stockpile. ‘Information that depressurization of several weapons and poisonous liquids spilled on the ground is completely disinformation,’ said Mikhail Manin, the official in the Volga region responsible for weapons-related issues....The plant is a focal point of the push to meet an April 2007 target set by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for Russia to destroy 20 percent of its stockpile... The bombs stored at Maradykovsky hold VX, soman and sarin, as well as a less deadly mixture of lewisite and mustard gas.” (International Herald Tribune; 23Nov06; AP)


Composite Made from Synthetic Rubber with Liquid Crystals Could Protect from Toxic Chemicals

Military personnel, chemical workers, and others could benefit from a new synthetic rubber material tailored with liquid crystals. The material might be used to make body suits to protect chemical-industry employees from skin exposure to toxic vapors and aerosols, as well as providing protection for military personnel and civilians in the event of a chemical-weapons attack. The new composite is lightweight and breathable, but still blocks the passage of toxic chemicals, reducing the risk of heat exhaustion in anyone wearing it... At present, the only certain way to protect people from all chemical vapors to which they might be exposed is to use a hermetically sealed body suit and fully enclosed breathing apparatus... During preparation of [this new] breathable rubber, the liquid crystals organize themselves into cylinders around water molecules in the reaction mixture. This causes tiny water-filled nanopores just 1.2 nanometers in diameter to form. Only the smallest of molecules can pass through these pores, including water. Many toxic molecules, nerve agents, and other chemicals are too big to enter the pores.” (Azom.com; 27Nov06)

Code of conduct for scientists could be a reality

“The international watchdog against chemical weapons wants to see a code of conduct for scientists worldwide. This is to ensure that the right knowledge does not fall into the wrong hands. The Organisation for Prohibition Against Chemical Weapons said the new code of ethics or conduct is timely for those who use and apply chemistry. It is working to make the code a key part of the chemistry curriculum in educational institutions to prevent those with the knowledge from using it for the wrong cause... For the first time, conference organisers have brought together scientists as well as civil and military personnel from operational agencies, as they all play key roles in responding to and overcoming chemical, biological, radiological and explosive threats.”
(Channel NewsAsia; 27Nov06; Farah Abdul Rahim)

Review Conference Working Group Holds Third Meeting: The Role of the CWC in Enhancing International Peace and Security

“The Open-Ended Working Group for the Chemical Weapons Convention’s Second Review Conference (WGRC) held its third meeting on 13 November 2006 at the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague...The Third Meeting addressed the role of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in enhancing international peace and security. The issues discussed included the importance of the destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles within the applicable deadlines, the importance of achieving universal adherence to and full and prompt implementation of the CWC, and the role of the CWC in responding to the threat of international terrorism. At the meeting, the Working Group also continued its consideration of the contribution of civil society to the review process. The Working Group will hold its next meeting on 11 December 2006.” (OPCW Pres Release; 23Nov06)


Radioactive element found in blood of Russian ex-spy

“Traces of radioactive polonium have been found in the blood of the deceased ex-Soviet spy Alexander Litvinenko, the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said on Friday... High levels of radiation have been discovered in a central London hotel that Litvinenko frequented, and at the sushi restaurant where he said he ate on 1 November 2006... To poison someone, polonium would most likely have been chemically combined in some type of dissolvable salt, for example polonium nitrate, experts told New Scientist. In this form the material could easily have been added to his food and ingested. Polonium is a radioactive element that is used industrially as an anti-static material. It is difficult to get hold of and not used regularly by research scientists, but very small traces of it occur naturally... ‘To poison someone, large amounts of polonium-210 are required and this would have to be manmade, perhaps from a particle accelerator or a nuclear reactor,’ said Dudley Goodhead at the UK's MRC Radiation and Genome Stability Unit. ‘Polonium has a half-life of 138 days. This means that if that was the poison it will still be in the body and in the area – which makes it relatively easy to identify.’” (New Scientist; 27Nov06; Gaia Vince)


Britain seeks to calm radioactive alarm

“British authorities sought overnight to allay growing public concern after radioactive traces were found in London following the death of a Russian ex-spy, and a handful of people were sent for tests....[S]peaking to MPs [Members of Parliament] afterwards, Mr. Reid [Home Secretary] confirmed traces of the radioactive substance polonium-210 had been found in two hospitals where Litvinenko spent his dying days, a sushi bar and a hotel he visited on November 1, and ‘certain’ other places in London. He did not specify them, but Sky News reported that experts had located suspect material - of the kind found in Litvinenko's urine - at a west London office block and a building in the upscale Mayfair neighbourhood... The Health Protection Agency has also sought to allay concern, pointing out the kind of alpha radiation involved can travel only tiny distances, so the risk of contamination is minimal.” (The Australian; 28Nov06; AFP)

Manchester signs counter-
terrorism deal with [U.K.] Home Office

“The University of Manchester is to develop a host of new counter-terrorism technologies following the award of a multi-million pound research contract by the Home Office... The project will form part of the Home Office's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear terrorism (CBRN) Resilience Programme, established in October 2001... The three projects, all separately funded, are led by members of the School of Chemistry with support from Chemical Engineering, Earth Science and Materials Science, all part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences... Professor Francis Livens, an expert in radiation sciences, will lead a project focusing on the identification and development of new molecules which can be incorporated into materials to be used as decontaminants on surfaces and in liquids. Michael Turner, Professor of Materials Chemistry, will lead the development of new type of low cost sensor which uses organic semiconductors to detect chemical agents... Roy Goodacre, Professor of Biological Chemistry, will lead the development of a portable device which uses the interaction of laser light with matter to generate a fingerprint to identify and detect bacteria in the air.”
(University of Manchester Press Release; 21Nov06)

Saddam Hussein's genocide trial resumes

“Prosecutors pressed ahead in the genocide trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and six others Monday in Baghdad after a two-week recess. The group is charged with crimes against humanity involving the deaths of as many as 180,000 Kurds in 1987-88 in the so-called Anfal, or spoils of war campaign, which prosecutors allege was a type of ethnic cleansing undertaken while Iraq and Iran were at war. All seven men have pleaded innocent to the charges, which include the use of chemical and biological weapons.” (United Press International; 27Nov06)

Articles Sponsored by
Criminal Justice online and police officer turned law enforcement writers.

No comments: