War on Terrorism

Friday, December 01, 2006

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News

December 1, 2006

New finding points way to foiling anthrax's tricks

“University of California, Berkeley, chemists have discovered a trick that anthrax bacteria use to make an end run around the body's defenses, but which may turn out to be their Achilles' heel. The UC Berkeley scientists, working with colleagues at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, uncovered the trick while studying how these deadly bacteria steal iron from their human hosts to grow and reproduce. Anthrax bacteria are known to produce two small molecules - bacillibactin and petrobactin - that snatch iron away from the human body's iron transporter molecules, called transferrin. These scavengers, or ‘siderophores,’ are essential to anthrax's ability to grow rapidly, especially after the spores are inhaled, though why the bacteria need two siderophores to do the job has been an enigma. The new study shows why anthrax bacteria require two siderophores working by two different mechanisms... [The] UC Berkeley team and the Seattle team are now exploring how their discovery could be used to diagnose or treat anthrax. The researchers published their findings Nov. 28 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their paper will appear in the Dec. 5 print edition.”
(Media-Newswire, 30Nov06)

Hackensack [New Jersey] Med Center gets grant for mobile bioterror unit

“The Carolina Med1 rapid response unit, used by FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], is designed for incidents in which there are mass casualties, but it’s the size of a tractor-trailer. That means it would not be able to maneuver through narrow city streets laden with debris or rush-hour traffic. This was one of the lessons learned last year from Hurricane Katrina, said Dr. Joseph Feldman, chair of the emergency department at Hackensack University Medical Center at a press conference Tuesday... [The conference was] called to announce a government grant to develop a new mobile hospital in case of bioterrorism and mass casualty incidents in urban areas. U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman and Sen. Frank Lautenberg presented a check for $3.2 million to the hospital to begin development of the new unit, which hospital officials said would be up and running in six to nine months.” (New Jersey Jewish Standard; 30Nov06; Joah

Study Warns of 'Grave and Growing' Threat of Biological Weapons

“The Center for Strategic and International Studies released Wednesday the findings of its survey addressing the future use of biological weapons.” Since mid-October, the center polled about 340 current executive branch officials and members of Congress, as well as former senior government officials and nongovernmental experts, on how they perceived the threat of bioweapons. Only about 50 of those polled responded to the survey. However, the center's Senior Fellow Amy Smithson who designed the survey, says that overall, biological weapons are seen as a grave and growing threat, even compared to chemical and nuclear weapons. "Biological weapons are the most insidious, the most serious threat because they're cheap, they come from nature and the release scenario can be as simple as the subway," he said... According to the study, the best way to address the threat is through international safety measures as opposed to efforts by individual states.” (Voice of America; 29Nov06; Sean Maroney)

Green Cross International and Affiliates Organize Roundtable on Developing a Comprehensive Global Biosecurity Regime

“Over fifty experts, diplomats and representatives of international organizations participated in a day-long roundtable discussion on global biosecurity and biosafety issues – sometimes called “bio-risk management” – at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 8, 2006. Organized by Green Cross International and three of its national affiliates in the United States... the conference was hosted by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament Tim Caughley and keynoted by Ambassador Masood Khan, President of the BTWC (Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention) Sixth Review Conference (RevCon). The general purpose of the conference was to raise key issues and recommendations regarding the prevention of, and response to, outbreaks of disease globally and to strengthen the existing international ban on biological weapons. This discussion took place less than two weeks before the opening of the BTWC RevCon in Geneva on November 20th (scheduled to run through December 8, 2006).” (Global Green USA Press Release; 29Nov06)

Anniston [Alabama] Rockets Could Catch Fire

“Some rockets set for disposal beginning Monday at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Alabama are likely to catch fire during the destruction process, The Anniston Star reported today... The facility since June has been incinerating M55 rockets carrying VX nerve agent. There are 17,500 of those rockets remaining, 5,000 of which belong to a type that has burst into flames occasionally while being cut into pieces at disposal sites in Pine Bluff, Ark., and Umatilla, Ore[gon]... The fires are believed to ignite when the cutting blade strikes a shell in which nitroglycerin from the rocket propellant system has leaked to the surface of the weapon the Star reported. All the fires have been minor, and none have escaped the explosive containment rooms in which the weapons are cut. While similar fires are expected at Anniston, they are not expected to pose a significant problem, said
Army project site manager Tim Garrett. ‘We really don’t anticipate having any problems with rocket fires,’ he said.” (Global Security Newswire; 1Dec06; Ben Cunningham, The Anniston Star)

OPCW Continues to Press Treaty Requirements

“States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention next week are expected to continue pressing fellow member nations to meet their obligations under the treaty, rather than seeking penalties for those that have yet to do so...The 11th Session of the Conference of States Parties, scheduled for Dec. 5-8 in The Hague, marks the end of the one-year extension given to nations to fulfill the requirements of treaty Article 7. Article 7 requires nations to take seven distinct national implementation measures. These include developing domestic legislation and regulations banning actions prohibited by the pact, such as development, possession, use and proliferation of chemical weapons. Countries must also designate a national authority to track civilian chemical activity and to operate as a point of contact for the treaty’s oversight body and other member countries.” (Global Security Newswire; 1Dec06; Chris Schneidmiller)

Spy case raises questions on UK radiation response

“If the poisoning of one man can pose such a serious test for the British government, how would it handle a full-scale radiological attack? A week after former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed by the radioactive poison Polonium 210, some security analysts see major flaws in the emergency response system and question its ability to cope with a larger crisis. Among their chief concerns is the three weeks it took for doctors to establish that the dying Litvinenko had been poisoned by a nuclear substance. ‘The man was radioactive in a hospital for weeks and nobody knew it. That's terrifying,’ said Robert Ayers, a former U.S. intelligence officer now working for London's Chatham House think-tank. Independent nuclear expert John Large told Reuters: ‘It's taken us three to four weeks to literally get on the case. In terms of us being prepared for a radiological incident, this is a very bad portent.’” (Reuters; 1Dec06; Mark Trevelyan)


China tightens export controls on nuclear technology

“China has tightened controls on exports of nuclear technology, announcing Friday revised regulations to prevent sensitive items from passing into the hands of governments at risk of colluding with
terrorists... The revisions to earlier regulations issued in 2001 expressly state that the rules are for ‘preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons (and) safeguarding against nuclear terrorism.’ Among the items added to the new controls are uranium enrichment facilities, equipment to produce heavy water, which can used to generate fuel for nuclear weapons, and facilities and equipment that deal with radioactive materials. Chinese government agencies involved in approving transfers of nuclear equipment are now authorized to halt exports to foreign users or governments ‘in danger of nuclear proliferation or nuclear terrorism,’ the revisions said."
(International Herald Tribune; 01Dec06; AP)


S.[Sergei] Ivanov warns of growing threat of WMDs falling into terrorist hands

“The threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and extremists is growing, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said. ‘The circle of countries that can independently develop weapons of mass destruction is expanding, and therefore the likelihood that these weapons could in the end - at least potentially - fall into the hands of
terrorists and extremists is increasing. We cannot ignore this danger,’ Ivanov said at a media forum of CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and Baltic countries in Moscow on Friday. ‘We can oppose these calamities only through consolidation,’ Ivanov said. ‘Transnational threats require the building of transnational mechanisms for countering them,’ he said.” (Interfax; 1Dec06)

New Professional Journal Launched to Address Disaster and Emergency Medicine

“American Journal of Disaster Medicine, a new publication will start in 2006. This publication is an outgrowth of our Journal of Emergency Management and is designed to meet the formidable challenges faced by physicians and medical professionals in a post 9/11, Katrina world, according to publisher Richard A. DeVito, Jr... With publication of American Journal of Disaster Medicine, comes guidance in this new specialty from the country's foremost experts in areas most physicians and medical professionals have never seen ... a deadly cocktail of catastrophic medical events like blast wounds and post explosion injuries, biological weapons contamination and mass physical and psychological trauma.” (Medical News Today; 01Dec06; Prime National Publishing

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