War on Terrorism

Saturday, February 02, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- February 1, 2008

Researchers Make Headway with Monkeypox Treatments
“Researchers in
Washington and Oregon report an advance toward developing much-needed new drugs and vaccines for monkeypox. The disease occurs mainly among rodents, monkeys, and other animals in Africa, but has been transmitted to humans, resulting in high mortality rates. Although this deadly viral disease rarely occurs naturally in the United States, it is a potential bioterrorism agent.” (Animal Lab News, 01Feb08)

Researchers uncover more about how poxviruses evade the immune system
“Scientists at Saint Louis University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have uncovered important new information about a key protein that allows viruses such as smallpox to replicate and wreak havoc on the immune system. The findings further our understanding of how the pox family of viruses work to subvert the immune system, the researchers say. […] The research is soon to be published in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper describes the structure and actions of a powerful substance called interferon-gamma binding protein, which is notorious for the role it plays in helping the poxviruses to replicate. The research explores the interferon-gamma binding protein found in the mousepox virus – one of the family of viruses that also includes smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox.” (EurekAlert, 31Jan08) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/slu-rum013108.php

Suspicious Envelopes Sent to Scientology
“Several envelopes containing white powder were sent to the Church of Scientology in what appeared to be a hoax that prompted street closings and evacuations in Southern California, the
FBI said Thursday. The envelopes were mailed to at least 19 church addresses in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and began showing up Wednesday, the FBI said. […] The FBI said initial tests indicated the powder was harmless but more tests were being conducted.” (Chicago Tribune, 31Jan08, AP) http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-scientology-envelopes,1,4446689.story

New Patent Awarded for Antigen-Sparing Vaccines that Elicit Robust Immunity
“A needle-free vaccine platform that elicits a robust immune response against a wide array of viruses and bacteria has been awarded a U.S. patent. The University of Michigan holds the patent and NanoBio Corporation, a spin-off from the university, licenses the patent and its associated
technology. The intranasal vaccines, produced using NanoBio's nanoemulsion technology, have elicited a dramatic immune response in animals vaccinated against influenza, anthrax, hepatitis B and other diseases. In some cases, the immune response is exponentially higher than what is required to provide adequate protection against infection. Such dramatic levels of immunity would confer significantly higher levels of protection to the vaccinated population at large compared with current injectable vaccines.” (PR Newswire, 30Jan08, NanoBio Corporation) http://sev.prnewswire.com/biotechnology/20080130/CLW10230012008-1.html

Analysis: NATO begins pandemic monitoring
“NATO recently became the latest agency, and the first
military one, to sign up for the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, an international initiative that monitors media and other open-source material 24/7 for signs of emerging pandemics and other public health disasters. The network, based in Ottawa [Canada] and known by its initials GPHIN, is an ‘early-warning system using media to detect public health events,’ GPHIN Senior Surveillance Officer Richard Lemay told United Press International in a recent interview.” (UPI, 30Jan08) http://www.upi.com/International_Security/Emerging_Threats/Analysis/2008/01/30/analysis_nato_begins_pandemic_monitoring/6537/

Guards needed for Pueblo chemical weapons site
“Here's an ad that might grab your attention: Wanted -- Guards for a potentially hazardous site where the
military is preparing to destroy lethal mustard-gas weapons. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Chesney says it's been difficult to fill positions at the Pueblo [Colorado] Chemical Depot because he competes with the federal penitentiary in nearby Florence for staff.” (Fox 21, 01Feb08, AP)

Iran’s First-Generation Chemical Weapons Evaporate, as Certainty Declines in U.S. Intelligence Reports
“Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the U.S. government regularly stated in a variety of forums that Iran possessed a large undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons (CW) and a substantial production capability. After its ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997, Iran declared that it had developed a CW production capability in the later stages of its war with Iraq (1980-88), but that it had destroyed this capability before 1997. A single CW production facility was declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and, following a visit to the site by OPCW inspectors, certified as destroyed. Nevertheless, the U.S. government continued to assert that Iran was maintaining an offensive CW capability, in direct violation of its obligations under the CWC. This assertion was strongly supported and repeated by a wide range of retired officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private think tanks. […] The primary objective of this essay is to outline the changing public statements of U.S.intelligence agencies regarding Iran’s CW program.” (WMD Insights, February 2008, Markus K. Binder) http://www.wmdinsights.com/I22/I22_ME2_Iran1stGenCW.htm

Annual gas chamber waiver for Base Marines eliminated
“Last week,
Marine Forces Pacific officials eliminated a waiver that exempted Marine Corps Base [MCB] Camp Butler Marines from annual gas chamber training requirements. This is the first time since 2004 base Marines are required to receive Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear qualifications, according to Master Sgt. Najee Jordan, the training and operations chief for Headquarters and Service Battalion, MCB.[…] The actions are to ensure the Marines know how to properly fit and wear a mask while giving them faith in their equipment, according to CBRN officials.” (U.S. Marines in Japan, 01Feb08, Pfc. Aaron Hostutler) http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil/Public%20Affairs%20Info/Archive%20News%20Pages/2008/080201-gas.html

British chemical weapons trial victims win apology and compensation
“The British government Thursday awarded 3 million pounds (6 million
dollars) compensation to volunteer servicemen who were subjected to chemical weapons trials during the Cold War era which they were made to believe were aimed at helping to develop remedies for the common cold. The experiments in the 1950s and 1960s at the Porton Down research centre near Salisbury, in south-west England, gained worldwide notoriety when those affected by the tests claimed that they had suffered lasting damage to their physical and mental health. The compensation awarded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will have to be carved up among some 360 men, for whom the symbolic meaning of the settlement will be greater than the amount of money they receive.” (Earthtimes.org, 31Jan08, DPA) http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/181151,british-chemical-weapons-trial-victims-win-apology-and-compensation.html

Public shows little interest in anti-radiation pills
“Though the [
Massachusetts] state Department of Public Health has given 5,000 potassium iodide [KI] tablets to the city [of Newburyport], only about 200 residents have picked them up, and time is running out. Last week the city received the tablets, commonly known as KI tablets, and has initiated a distribution program that will last until today. The pills are meant to protect people against a radiation emergency at the Seabrook nuclear power plant, which is about five miles north of downtown Newburyport. […] The lack of interest in KI tablets is a cause for concern for Citizens within a Ten Mile Radius advocacy group member Jack VanLoan. […] VanLoan warns people of the dangers of living near the Seabrook station and notes the makings of a dirty bomb are right in our backyard. ‘If you think of what would happen if there was an accident or terrorist attack then you will go and get the tablets, if you just think about the electricity coming out of the socket and you don’t care where it comes from then you probably won’t get the tablets, but there are reasons to pick them up,’ VanLoan said.” (The Daily News of Newburyport, 31Jan08, Katie Curley) http://www.newburyportnews.com/punews/local_story_031000001.html

Radioactive cargo on train to Iran investigated
“Authorities in the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan are investigating why a train traveling from Kyrgyzstan to Iran was carrying radioactive cargo. The amount of radioactive material was not enough to make a weapon. But the Kyrgyz government says it still doesn't know how or when the material was placed on board the train. […] Kyrgyz newspapers report that this is the third time in three years authorities have intercepted trains leaving Kyrgyzstan with radioactive cargo. In this case, Kyrgyz officials say the radioactive substance consisted of several grams of cesium-137, which is often used in medical and industrial instruments. Alexander Melikishvili, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, says that in powder form, cesium-137 could also be used to make a dirty bomb.” (National Public Radio, 01Feb08, Ivan Watson)

Pentagon rejects report, says ready for WMD attack
“The Pentagon on Friday insisted it is ready to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear attack inside the United States, rejecting an independent panel's criticism of its preparations. But the Pentagon conceded it is not yet satisfied with its plans to respond to some of the 15 catastrophic attack scenarios that federal agencies have been ordered to prepare for, such as a nuclear attack or a series of chemical attacks throughout the country. Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said plans to respond to those scenarios would be improved this year.” (Washington Post; 01Feb08; Kristin Roberts, Reuters) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/01/AR2008020102453.html

Guard, Reserve report worries Nebraskans
“Congress should look closely at an independent commission's call to dramatically upgrade the U.S.
military reserves and National Guard for combat overseas and protecting Americans at home, Nebraska lawmakers say. In a report issued Thursday, the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves said the Pentagon and Congress must transform the nation's military reserves into an operational force similar to the active-duty armed services. The panel said severe shortages in training, equipment and planning mean Guard and Reserve units are not ready for catastrophic threats on U.S. soil, such as chemical and biological attacks.” (Omaha World-Herald, 31Jan08, Jake Thompson and Tim Elfrink) http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10246692

IAC [Idaho Accelerator Center] continues work to neutralize nuclear, chemical, biological weapons
“The Idaho State University Idaho Accelerator Center (IAC) has received an additional $1.8 million to continue to develop
technology using small accelerator detection systems for the detection and neutralization of chemical, biological and fissionable (nuclear) weapons or weapons materials. This new funding adds to the $4 million already received from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. The project features several major components. For one, the researchers are developing small, portable accelerator systems that could be used to detect fissionable, chemical and biological materials. These systems would be small enough to be transported on the back of a pickup truck.” (Idaho State University, 01Feb08) http://www2.isu.edu/headlines/?p=913

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

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