Friday, April 25, 2008
CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-April 25, 2008
Labs playing high-tech Russian roulette
“Laboratories conducting research on lethal pathogens, often suitable for biological warfare, are springing up all over, according to a 2007 U.S. General Accounting Office report. Seattle already houses at least 10 such labs. […] Notwithstanding their laudatory purposes, the labs, which operate almost entirely without government regulation or public oversight, already have had scores of accidents. […] [P]roposed legislation would require that laboratories using dangerous pathogens obtain a permit, disclose the pathogens they would house, how they will be contained, stored and disposed of and identify the individuals responsible. […] Research on the most dangerous pathogens, such as ebola and smallpox, which are deadly, incurable and highly contagious, would be prohibited.”
(Seattle PI; 23Apr08; Randy Baker).
New Service Replaces Paper-based Product Safety Alerts With E-mails
“A letter-based system of disseminating information ‘exposes physicians to additional liability, because it gets to them late -- if at all,’ said Edward Fotsch, M.D., in an interview with AAFP News Now. […] Physicians picturing their e-mail inboxes slammed by a sudden influx of unwanted e-mails can relax, according to Fotsch. ‘It's targeted just like the letters,’ he said. ‘If you're a neurologist, you're not getting stuff that's targeted for pediatrics.’ Most likely, he predicted, FPs should expect to receive only a handful of notices each month. Other benefits of the new service include the clinician's ability to add an office manager or other staff member to the list of designated recipients and a feature that makes it easy for clinicians to send patients appropriate information from HCNN alerts using the clinicians' pre-existing practice e-mail systems.” (American Academy of Family Physicians; 23Apr08; Cindy Borgmeyer).
Acambis [vaccine manufacturer] wins £213 million US contract
“Acambis, the vaccine maker, has won a 10-year contract to supply the US Government with a smallpox vaccine, in a deal worth $425 million (£215 million). […] The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will receive 9 million doses of the ACAM2000 vaccine annually, as part of the deal. The doses will be delivered between the third and last year of the contract, valuing each dose at an average of $3.96 over the course of the contract, after taking out license maintenance costs.” (Investment Markets; 24Apr08; Kay Murchie).
Study shows how smallpox virus tricks healthy cells
“A virus closely related to smallpox disguises itself as a piece of a broken cell to trick its way into cells, Swiss researchers said on Thursday in a discovery that could lead to better drugs and vaccines. The vaccinia virus tricks scavenging immune system cells into devouring it, and can invade the body from there, said Ari Helenius, who led the study published in the journal Science.” (Scientific American; 24Apr08; Michael Kahn of Reuters). http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=study-shows-how-smallpox
Chemical arms disposal pricey / China project hit for opaque management, exorbitant costs [Japan]
“‘I've no idea how much we need [to pay for the project],’ said a senior official from the Cabinet Office section in charge of abandoned chemical weapon disposal, when The Yomiuri Shimbun asked about the possible total cost of the national project to dispose of munitions left behind in China during and after World War II. Under the Chemical Weapon Convention, which Japan ratified in 1995, the nation was obliged to unearth all the chemical weapons abandoned by the Imperial Japanese Army on the Chinese mainland and render them harmless. […] However, most of the funding was used to research the project's basic planning framework, while construction of a plant has yet to start. It seems obvious it will take more than 100 billion yen just to build the plant. Regarding the treatment of chemical weapons abandoned in the Haerbaling district of Jilin Province, northeast China, a person who has been involved in the project said, ‘The total cost is estimated to be hundreds of billion of yen.’ Another estimate went as high as 1 trillion yen, the person added.” (Yomiuri Shimbun; 24Arp08).
4 arrested in scandal over Japan's removal of WWII chemical weapons in China
“Prosecutors allege Tamio Araki, former president of Pacific Consultants International, and three other company executives misused 120 million yen (US$1.17 million; €730 million) of government funds meant for the disposal of about 400,000 chemical weapons that Japanese troops left behind in China at the end of the war. The men have not yet been formally charged.” (International Herald Tribune; 23Apr08; Associated Press).
Iranian physicians to speak [at Smith College, North Hampton Massachusetts]
“Two Iranian physicians will describe their work with the victims of chemical weapons Sunday at Smith College as part of an informational tour of America. Doctors Shahriar Khateri and Mohammad Reza Soroush have spent much of the past 20 years tending to people who have suffered the effects of chemical warfare between Iran and Iraq. […] Khateri and Soroush will also visit Cambridge, Boston, Hartford, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. on their tour.” (The Republican; 24Apr08).
Catastrophic Nuke Terrorism 'Inevitable,' Say Experts
“Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) agrees that such an attack would be devastating, but says deterrence can work by threatening retaliation against the states that produced the weapon. […] Ashton Carter, co-chairman of the Preventive Defense Project at Harvard University, said that the ‘scale of this disaster would quickly overwhelm even the most prepared city, and state governments.’ He also predicted that, in the wake of such an attack, Americans would evacuate cities and disperse throughout the country. […] Biden suggested creating an international forensic library to store information on the signatures of nuclear weapons and material produced in the world in order to credibly threaten retaliation against the states that produced the material, transmitted it or allowed terrorist agents to procure it.” (CNS News; 24Apr08; Evan Moore).
Putin offers steps to improve nuclear security [Russia]
“Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the State Duma make amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material introduced in Vienna on July 8, 2005 […] The document provides for steps to improve nuclear security and counter nuclear terrorism in light of new challenges and threats.” (Ros Business Consulting; 24Apr08).
Kazakh parliament ratifies UN nuclear terrorism convention
“The bill on ratifying the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism has been submitted to President Nursultan Nazarbayev for signing. The agreement ‘defines the act of nuclear terrorism as the use or threat to use nuclear material, nuclear fuel, radioactive products or waste, or any other radioactive substances with toxic, explosive, or other dangerous properties,’ and outlines measures aimed to prevent terrorist attacks involving the use of nuclear or other radioactive materials.” (RIA Novosti; 24Apr08).
Greeting a North Korean Tie to Syria
“Was it really a nuclear reactor, as several unofficial reports claimed? Or was it simply a chemical weapons facility, one that failed to prompt military action over the years? […] The questions were pondered in a climate of deep distrust in the Bush administration, the source of today’s news and another set of intelligence that Syria was quick to recollect.
‘If they show a video, remember that the U.S. went to the U.N. Security Council and displayed evidence and images about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,’ Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, told The Washington Post. ‘I hope the American people will not be as gullible this time around.’” (New York Times: LEDE; 24Apr08; Mike Nizza).
[Defense Secretary Robert] Gates: Strategic Mistakes Must Not Be Repeated
“He posed questions with which the United States and its military leaders must grapple: ‘With the possibility of the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and the willingness of terrorists to use them without warning, can we wait to respond until after a catastrophic attack is either imminent or has already occurred? […] ‘While 'never fight unless you have to' does not preclude preemption, after our experience with flawed information regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, how high must the threshold of confidence in our intelligence have to be to justify -- at home and abroad -- a preemptive or preventive war?’” (Press Media Wire; 23Apr08; Donna Miles).
CNS ChemBio-WMD 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.