War on Terrorism

Monday, December 08, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- December 8, 2008

Primate center unveils biosafety lab [LA]
“Five years in the making and prompted by an influx of federal financing for bioterrorism research after anthrax scares and the Sept. 11 attacks, Tulane University’s [LA] National Primate Research Center on Friday showed off its new $27.5 million lab for studying airborne contaminants and infectious diseases. The Regional Biosafety Laboratory, a 38,000-square-foot facility within the center near Covington, is not expected to open for business until mid-summer, but on Friday morning, national, state and local officials used an oversized pair of scissors to cut a green ribbon, officially marking the lab's completion. ‘The focus is how you prevent exposure for a new emergent disease that is moving this way, or for a bioterrorism event,’ said Andrew Lackner, the center’s director. He said the facility will work ‘to protect the community and the nation.’” (Times-Picayune; 06Dec08; Benjamin Alexander-Bloch)

Data published in Nature Medicine highlights ability of Peregrine Pharmaceuticals’ bavituximab to cure lethal virus infections
“Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. reported publication of data in Nature Medicine that supports the broad anti-viral potential of the company's novel anti-phosphatidylserine (anti-PS) antibody platform, showing that its PS-targeting drug bavituximab can cure lethal virus infections in animal disease models. Bavituximab is in clinical trials for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and in preclinical development for the treatment of viral hemorrhagic fevers under a contract worth up to $44.4 million with the bioterrorism program of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).” (NewsRx.com; 12Dec08)

Secret labs outsourced by Defra [U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs]
“Britain’s top-secret laboratories battling to prevent outbreaks of anthrax, foot-and-mouth, mad cow disease and Asian bird flu with some installations so sensitive they do not officially exist have been privatised. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is transferring the maintenance of 186 sites and 800
Civil servants to outsourcing specialist Interserve. The contract includes three labs, whose work is so top secret their locations are undisclosed. […] Interserve, which also provides private-sector services to Buckingham Palace, said the 15-year Defra contract will be worth at least £500 million.” (The Daily Mail; 05Dec08) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/article-1092263/Top-secret-laboratories-outsourced-Defra.html

Earmark helps [NY] businesses, not troops
“Scientists have discovered a lotion that can save the lives of U.S. soldiers exposed to chemical weapons a product vastly superior to the standard-issue decontamination powder. […] But there’s a problem: After being lobbied by the companies making the powder, several members of Congress pushed through two earmarks worth $7.6 million that forced the
military for the past two years to keep buying the inferior product. The product, known as M291, is made from a resin sold exclusively by a Pennsylvania chemical company, which is then processed into powder by a New York company, then assembled into individual kits at a facility in Arkansas. Among the lawmakers who championed the earmarks are Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.” (Seattle Times; 08Dec08; Christine Willamsen and David Heath) http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008479423_apwaearmarkreport.html

[U.S. oil-services firm] Schlumberger's Iran sale [of ‘dirty bomb’ useable materials] raises questions
“The U.S. oil-services firm Schlumberger is using a legal loophole to supply machines with radioactive chemicals to Iran, The Boston Globe reported Sunday. The Globe says its investigation revealed the company has sold a 2,000-pound drilling tool to Iran powered by a kind of radioactive chemical that scientists say could fuel a so-called ‘dirty bomb.’ U.S. officials have sought to keep the chemical out of Iranian hands, but Schlumberger made the sale using a legal loophole allowing multinational corporations to employ foreign subsidiaries to sidestep U.S. sanctions, the Globe said. […] Victor Comras, a specialist on international trade embargoes, said Schlumberger's oil tools sale to Iran ‘is certainly activity that goes against the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.’” (United Press International; 07Dec08; Source: Boston Globe) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/12/07/Schlumbergers_Iran_sale_raises_questions/UPI-90781228672600/

U.S. commission [on the prevention of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation, and
terrorism] says urgent need to secure Pakistan's biological and nuclear weapons
“A U.S. bipartisan commission has warned that the next attacks on America might originate from Pakistan’s volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), adding that there is an urgent need for Washington to secure Pakistan’s biological and nuclear weapons. The report, which was due to be presented to U.S. President Bush on Wednesday, says: ‘Indeed, many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the US is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan.’[…] [The report] warns that the recently-concluded US-India
Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement may significantly affect Asian security, saying incoming President Barack Obama will have to manage the actions that states may take in response to the agreement.” (News Track India; 07Dec08; Source: Asian News

India, Russia sign milestone nuclear pact, vow to fight terror
“The two strategic partners [India and Russia], whose ties have ‘withstood the test of time,’ signed 10 agreements in areas ranging from
Civil space programme, Civil nuclear cooperation, economy, tourism and defence, and combatting terrorism. […] Reiterating their commitment to a multi-polar world, the two countries discussed a host of global issues, including terrorism, the global financial crisis, the Iranian nuclear issue, trilateral cooperation between India, Russia and China, and reform of leading international institutions.” (Newstrack India; 05Dec08; Source:
Indo-Asian News Service)

leaders try to ban nuclear weapons
“A new international group committed to eliminating nuclear weapons over the next 25 years has enlisted scores of world
leaders as its campaign gets under way at a conference in Paris on Tuesday. […] The group, Global Zero, is proposing deep cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, a verification and enforcement system, and phased reduction leading to the elimination of all stockpiles. […] Ultimately, the planners are hoping to stage a world summit in January 2010. More than 100 political, military, business, religious and civic leaders have lent their support to the campaign. ‘In recent months, the threat of proliferation and nuclear terrorism has led to a growing chorus of world leaders calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons,’ the group said in a statement announcing its plans.” (The China Post; 08Dec08; Source: Associated Press; Barry Schweid) http://www.chinapost.com.tw/international/europe/2008/12/08/186640/World-leaders.htm

Commentary [by Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst]: WMD
terrorism fears overblown
“Terrorists have already used weapons of mass destruction in the past decade in attacks around the world, and they have proven to be something of a dud. […] In fact, there is only one weapon of mass destruction that can kill tens or hundreds of thousands and that is a nuclear device. […] Even if al Qaeda successfully deployed a crude chemical, biological or radiological weapon […] these would be weapons of mass disruption, whose principal effect would be panic -- not mass casualties. […] What we are likely to see again and again are the tried and tested tactics that terrorists have used for decades: […] Deploying true WMDs remains beyond the capabilities of terrorist groups today and for the foreseeable future.” (CNN.com; 05Dec08; Peter Bergen) http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/05/bergen.wmd/index.html?iref=newssearch

[U.S. Representative Jane] Harman [D-CA] warns against overplaying WMD ‘fear card’
“After a series of dire new warnings about possible terrorist threats -- capped by a government commission's report [from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and
terrorism] that terrorists are likely to stage a biological or nuclear attack somewhere in the world during the next five years -- some experts are urging officials ‘to retire the fear card,’ as California Rep. Jane Harman puts it. ... Harman, who heads the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and terrorism Risk Assessment, added, ‘It’s time for the rhetoric about that threat to calm, instead of inflame, an anxious public.’” (U.S. News & World Report: 08Dec08) http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/bulletin/bulletin_081208.htm

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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