Bio terror 'next threat' for US
"Nuclear and biological terrorism is the emerging threat the next US President should focus on, the US security chief has told Sky News. US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, speaking to Sky News In an exclusive interview, Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff said sources of radioactive and biological materials must be properly secured ‘at all costs’. He warned terrorists are actively seeking to acquire such materials. Mr Chertoff said he did not think a weapon of mass destruction, like a biological or nuclear bomb, was a danger that could be just months away. […] His comments echo those of the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who told Sky News last year that intelligence suggested terrorists were trying to get their hands on materials and know how to make a dirty bomb." (Sky News; 31Oct08; Mark White) http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News
Custer [ND] health exercise
"The days of bubonic plague and typhoid fever are long gone, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune from a pandemic or an outbreak of other dangerous illnesses. […] So the question arises, what would we do if another one happened tomorrow? Custer Public Health in Mandan [ND] doesn’t want to wait to find out. Today, they tested out a POD, or Point of Dispensing, exercise to see how fast they could treat the public in the event of a health emergency. […] With this exercise, people were merely getting their flu shots, but they weren’t given the same treatment they would get if they were at an every day flu clinic, where time isn’t an issue." (KFYR-TV; 30Oct08; Anne Kelly)
FBI: Anthrax hoaxes from Calif. man still in mail
"A California man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sending hoax letters labeled ‘anthrax’ to scores of media outlets, the FBI said Wednesday, warning that many of the threats may still be in the mail. Marc M. Keyser, 66, sent more than 120 envelopes containing a compact disc that had a packet of sugar labeled ‘Anthrax Sample’ along with a biohazard symbol, the FBI said in a news release. The CD was titled ‘Anthrax: Shock & Awe Terror.’ Keyser was taken into custody without incident at his home in Sacramento on three counts of sending a hoax letter, the FBI said. At least some of the packages had Keyser's return address on them, said FBI agent Steve Dupre." (Associated Press; 30Oct08; Sudhin Thanawala) http://news.lp.findlaw.com/ap/o/1110/10-30-2008/20081030010505_35.html
Russia eliminates 30 percent of [its] chemical weapons
"Russia has destroyed about 30 percent of its chemical warfare agents, Interfax reported yesterday. ‘According to the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], as of now Russia has scrapped 11,600 metric tons of poisonous substances of the first grade, which amounts to 30 percent of the stock,’ OPCW special projects chief Krzysztof Paturej said during a meeting in Moscow. ‘The rates of chemical disarmament in Russia are the highest among other states.’ […] Russia originally possessed 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. That was the world’s largest stockpile, topping those held by the other declared chemical-agent possessors, Albania, Libya, India, the United States and a nation widely assumed to be South Korea."
(Global Security Newswire; 29Oct08; Source: Interfax) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081029_1780.php
Bekaert hosts mock [chemical attack] exercise
"Members of the military’s Civil Support Team ran tests Thursday on a chemical found outside of a package as part of a drill. […] It was a horrible scenario at the Bekaert Corp. [chemical] plant early Thursday morning. Luckily, it was only a drill to test disaster response. […] A former employee had brought in a package that contained the deadly poison ricin and it spilled onto some powered doughnuts that had been eaten by employees. […] Multiple agencies participated in the training exercise.
[…] Police and firefighter were all out on the scene along with the U.S.
Army’s 4th Civil Support Team from Atlanta. Along with first responders, ‘victims’ had to go through two different contamination areas at the plant before they were rushed off to the mythical hospital." (Rome News-Tribune; 31Oct08; Kevin Myrick) http://news.mywebpal.com/partners/680/public/news933415.html
Iran has potential WMD capabilities, reports say
"Iran’s growing industrial and medical capabilities could enable the country to produce chemical or biological weapons if it chose to do so, security expert Anthony Cordesman said in two draft reports released this month. ‘Iran’s technology base is advanced enough ... so that Iran retains some capability to make chemical weapons, and it may have inactive or mothballed facilities. While there have been no public reports of active production, this is possible and such efforts can occur at low levels and be easy to conceal,’ Cordesman, an analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a draft report on Iran’s potential chemical-weapon capabilities." (Online; 31Oct08; Source: Canada Free Press)
The weakest link: more delays in nuclear detection at borders
"It is one of the most likely ways that terrorists can cause mass casualties: a crude nuclear device smuggled into the country via a cargo container, truck, or boat. Yet, experts say, […] a gaping nuclear loophole remains at the nation's borders and seaports. The original wide-sweeping and aggressive plan by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to install advanced radiation detection monitors at all the nation's seaports, borders, rail stations, and more has ballooned in cost even though its goals have been scaled back. […] But cost is not the only issue; […] the new and 'advanced' radiation portal monitors that the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) proposes buying aren't worth their high price tag. […] The new monitors, according to Tom Cochran, [senior scientist at the Nuclear Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council], do not reliably detect highly enriched uranium." (ABC News; 31Oct08; Maddy Sauer)
U.S. justifies cross-border strikes
"A country should have the right to attack another if it is harbouring a potential terrorist threat, the U.S. Homeland Security chief said in remarks appearing to justify recent U.S. raids in Pakistan and Syria. […] Michael Chertoff said international law should accommodate a country's need to deter a possible threat abroad even if it meant taking pre-emptive action. […] ‘International law must begin to recognise that part of the responsibility of sovereignty is the responsibility to make sure that your own country does not become a platform for attacking other countries,’ Chertoff told an audience. ‘There are areas of the world that are ungoverned or ungovernable but nevertheless technically within the sovereignty of boundaries. Does that mean we simply have to allow terrorists to operate there, in kind of badlands, where they can plan, they can set up laboratories, they can experiment with chemical weapons and with biological weapons?’ he said." (The International News; 31Oct08) http://www.thenews.com.pk/print.asp?id=58940
Muslims quizzed in '04 pre-election survey [about access to biological or chemical weapons, among other topics]
"A 2004 pre-election operation to disrupt potential terrorist plots focused on more than 2,000 immigrants from mostly Muslim countries, government data show. Most of those questioned were found to have done nothing wrong, The New York Times reported Friday. Some, however, were deported for overstaying their visas. There was no word of a similar operation before next week's election. […] 79 percent of the suspects were from Muslim-majority countries, the Times said. The newly released data showed that immigration agents questioned the foreigners about what they thought of the United States, whether violence was preached at their mosques and whether they had access to biological or chemical weapons."
(UPI; 31Oct08; Source: New York Times)
Security experts forced to expect the worst
"Planners must consider the risk of a chemical, biological or radiological attack, former CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] official says. […] In Canada now, there is a growing group of security planners who are thinking about […] the deliberate release of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear compounds at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. ‘If they are not thinking about this, then they're not doing their jobs,’ said David Harris, a security expert and former strategic operations director with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. ‘We are involved in a technological war with actual adversaries and we have seen ample evidence of medieval minds that are consumed with finding the means of intimidating and destroying civilization.’" (Vancouver Sun; 30Oct08; Jeff Lee) http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/features/2010/story.html?id=bccb22a4-f059-4e40-9982-296b2d9f64de
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.