War on Terrorism

Monday, December 01, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- December 1, 2008

Bioterrorism: global depression warning
“A lack of transnational cooperation on biosecurity and pandemic disease control could tip the world into the largest economic crisis of the last 100 years, a report said on Thursday. The commission on national security from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said bioterrorism or a serious disease outbreak could send the global economy from a ‘serious recession into a global depression.’ The IPPR security commission, chaired by Lord George Robertson former defence secretary and secretary general of NATO, and Lord Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and high representative to Bosnia, said global arrangements to prepare, detect and respond to bioterrorism or disease outbreaks are inadequate.” (In The News; 27Nov08; Source: Institute for Public Policy Research) http://www.inthenews.co.uk/news/autocodes/countries/bosnia-and-herzegovina/bioterrorism-global-depression-warning-$1251616.htm

Depot chemical weapons disposal delayed [KY]

Army official overseeing the disposal of chemical weapons in Kentucky says the project is again running behind schedule and now may not even begin until 2021, four years after a deadline Congress set for completion. […] Kevin Flamm, manager of the Defense Department's Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, said Tuesday that another delay is necessary partly because of increased construction costs and a redesign of a building at Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond where the deadly Cold War-era munitions are to be neutralized and destroyed. […] The Richmond stockpile is more complicated […] because it contains VX, GB and mustard agent. An emergency operation is under way to destroy three steel containers, one of which leaked sarin last year. Flamm said that effort had nothing to do with the delays at the larger stockpile.” (Associated Press; 27Nov08; Jeffrey McMurray)

Russian chemical plant completes destruction of [VX] nerve agent
“A Russian chemical weapons disposal facility has completed the destruction of VX nerve agent, a regional government official said on Monday. VX nerve agent is one of the most toxic substances ever developed. A tiny amount of VX is fatal, and death usually occurs within an hour of exposure. Mikhail Manin, a department head in the Kirov region government, said that as of December 1, more than 4,500 tons of toxic agents (a total of 23,473 chemical weapons) were destroyed at the Maradykovsky chemical plant. However, he did not say what proportion the nerve agent constituted of the total amount. […] The country is to destroy all its declared arsenal of 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons by 2012.” (RIA Novosti; 01Dec08) http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081201/118632753.html

Some vindication for sick [
Gulf War] vets, but little relief
“A high-profile advisory panel to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake earlier this month affirmed research showing that a collection of symptoms commonly known as
Gulf War illnesses are real and require treatment. The country has a national obligation to help them, the panel concluded. The report, however, also noted a sad reality: Of the $340 million in government funds spent to research the topic, little has focused on finding treatments. And, researchers said, the estimated 175,000-210,000 Gulf veterans who are sick aren't getting any better. […] Compounding the problem was the complexity of the symptoms and uncertainty over the causes. Were they caused by combat stress? Was it vaccinations? Was it pills given to protect soldiers from nerve agents? Was it exposure to oil well fires or chemical weapons? Or a combination of factors?” (USA Today; 01Dec08; Steve Jahnke; Source: Associated Press) http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-12-01-gulf-war-syndrome_N.htm

Lebanon signs up to treaty banning chemical weapons
“Lebanon on Friday signed legal documents which will see it become the 185th signatory to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention within 30 days. […] OPCW Director-General Rogelio Pfirter said the convention's founding goal of a universal ban on chemical weapons was coming closer, adding: ‘We call upon those 10 remaining states that have not yet adhered to the CWC to do so without delay.’ Pfirter said in April he had high hopes of Lebanon and Iraq signing up to the treaty in the near future. Three other states in the Middle East -- Israel, Egypt and Syria -- have also still to engage, as has North Korea. Later deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles have been accorded to major producers such as the United States and Russia (2012) or Libya (2011). The OPCW has conducted over 3,000 inspections in 80 member states since its formation.” (AFP; 28Nov08) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iNSj-Hx68bU1EPcDzCXPEQs3aHDQ

His [Astrophysicist Jim Ryan’s] bomb detector is out of this world [MA]
“[Astrophysicist Jim] Ryan, 61, was invited to a National Guard exercise on Cape Cod to watch a mock cleanup of a terrorist site filled with the material for dirty bombs […]. As Guardsmen combed the booby-trapped house with hand-held sensors, a light bulb went off in Ryan's head. ‘We detect radioactive aluminum from across the galaxy,’ he said, so ‘I knew we should be able to detect it from across the street.’ […] As he stood on Cape Cod at the dirty bomb drill, watching the National Guard play a game of warmer/colder with their hand-held instruments, he realized that some of the spare parts from the
Compton [Gamma Ray] Observatory could be used to pinpoint the location of the dirty bomb material with much greater accuracy than traditional Geiger counters and spectrometers, and from a safer distance.” (Boston Globe; 01Dec08; Billy Baker) http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2008/12/01/his_bomb_detector_is_out_of_this_world/

Customs, ports screen for bomb in a box
“Just as fears of a ‘dirty bomb’ coming through the Port of
Los Angeles or the Port of Long Beach have increased since the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., so has the available technology that can detect those bombs, said Capt. John Schrinner, Security Chief for McAllister Tug and one of three panelists at the ‘Bomb in a Box’ panel at the recent Maritime Security Expo in Long Beach. As of December 2006, 100 percent of all containers entering the San Pedro ports have been screened for radiation with some of that new technology, a process that was put into motion in response to 9/11. Of the 2,000 to 3,000 containerized shipments screened daily at the San Pedro Bay ports, anywhere from 300 to 600 shipments set off radiation alarms - most of which are triggered by things that are supposed to give off a certain amount of radiation, such as TV sets, porcelain and tile. Nonetheless, each alarm has to be checked out and adjudicated, according to Kevin Weeks of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.” (The Cunnigham Report; 30Nov08)

Nuclear waste piles up in state [PA]
“The Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport [PA] could run out of space for its low-level radioactive waste in two to five years. […] Pennsylvania does not have a disposal site or plans to build one […] because generators could send the waste out of state. Yet, […] facilities in Pennsylvania and neighboring West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware […] could start to run out of storage space by 2013 […]. With the waste scattered at sites across the United States rather than in one central depository, some critics fear it is more vulnerable to
terrorism and could be used to build a ‘dirty’ bomb, an explosive device that spreads radioactive material. Security experts and regulators said that's not likely because even small amounts of radioactive material are highly controlled and tracked.” (Pittsburgh Live; 28Nov08; Andrew Conte; Source: Tribune Review)

Claflin [University] [SC] research seeks easy way to detect [biochem] threats
“Claflin University researchers will soon begin developing a thin strip of paper that can detect the presence of biological outbreaks and chemical weapons. ‘The project has enormous implications for national security,’ Claflin biology professor Dr. Omar Bagasra said. The paper strip will act much like a pregnancy test. The idea is the paper strip will turn a specific color to signal a particular hazard. For example, if Sarin gas is released in an area, the paper would turn green. […] [Claflin chemistry professor Dr. Muthukrishna] Raja said the project’s primary goal is to train students and give them a segue into a career in national security. Select students, between five and 10 per year, will work with the facsimiles to perfect the detection strip and hopefully create the framework for antidotes.” (Times & Democrat; 01Dec08; Lee Tant) http://www.thetandd.com/articles/2008/12/01/news/doc493375986b350239173536.txt

Panel [Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and
terrorism] fears use of unconventional weapon
“An independent commission has concluded that terrorists will most likely carry out an attack with biological, nuclear or other unconventional weapons somewhere in the world in the next five years unless the United States and its allies act urgently to prevent that. […] ‘Were one to map
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan,’ the report states […]. The report is the result of a six-month study by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and terrorism, which Congress created last spring in keeping with one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. […] The panel’s 13 recommendations focus on fighting the threat of bioterrorism, including improved bioforensic capabilities, and strengthening international organizations, like the International Atomic Energy Agency, to address the nuclear threat. It also calls for a comprehensive approach for dealing with Pakistan.” (The New York Times; 01Dec08; Eric Schmitt) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/washington/01bioterror.html?ref=world

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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