War on Terrorism

Monday, December 15, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- December 15, 2008

[Anthrax suspect Steven] Hatfill rejected by top U.S. court on New York Times libel suit
“The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a defamation lawsuit against New York Times Co. by Steven Hatfill, the former government scientist once wrongly suspected of involvement in the 2001 anthrax attack. The high court, without comment, today rejected Hatfill’s appeal in his suit against the company stemming from a series of columns in 2002 by Nicholas Kristof that described the scientist as the ‘likely culprit.’ Hatfill challenged a federal appeals court’s conclusion that he was a public figure on the subject of bioterrorism. That finding meant he had to show that the Times and Kristof acted with ‘actual malice,’ the toughest legal standard for a defamation plaintiff to meet. Hatfill said he became prominent only because of Kristof’s accusations.” (Bloomberg News; 15Dec08; Greg Stohr) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aYLV_SWvUfnQ&refer=home

Anthrax kills 13 cows In Sweden
“A rare outbreak of anthrax has killed 13 cows in Sweden, but is unlikely to harm people, says the country's Institute for Infectious Disease Control. The farm near Varberg in western Sweden has been quarantined and the remaining animals treated with antibiotics, which is effective against anthrax, said Bengt Larsson, a spokesman for the Institute. […] The anthrax may have come from the soil, Larsson said, noting traces of the bacteria can remain active for up to 50 years.” (OfficialWire; 14Dec08)

Japan begins trying to remove chemical weapons abandoned in China during WWII
“A Japanese commission began trying to remove abandoned chemical weapons Saturday in the Harbaling area of China's Jilin Province. The weapons had been buried there since World War II.The number of weapons and length of excavation was not made public. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said, commencement of the work marks real progress by Japan to destroy weapons which still pose threats to peoples' lives, property and the local environment. The Chinese authority will supervise the work and provide necessary assistance in the proceedings, according to the Ministry.” (Xinhuanet; 13Dec08; Du Guodong)

Clothing that destroys chemical weapons
“The deployment of chemical weapons in an urban population center isn't simply a hypothetical threat; it has actually happened, most notably in Tokyo. Protection […] usually comes in the form of bulky suits. […] Chemically modified clothing could be a more effective form of protection, […] catalyzing chemical reactions at its surface. French scientists, led by Valérie Keller, sought to enhance textiles with carbon nanotubes to make clothes that can deactivate chemical warfare agents. Keller and his colleagues chose a system that utilizes solar energy to catalyze reactions. By using layer-by-layer deposition, they were able to create a homogenous and thin layer of nanotube material (titanate nanotubes impregnated with tungstate salt) atop mundane textile fibers." (Ars Technica; 15Dec08; Yun Xie) http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2008/12/15/clothing-that-destroys-warfare-chemicals

Washington is calling [Iran]
“Close advisers of Obama […] are all vigorously preparing the ground for a U.S.-Iran rapprochement. […] [T]he U.S. has a productive dialogue with Iran in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. And the Baker-Hamilton report back in 2006 suggested initiating talks with Iran. What can Obama add to this? […] [I]t would be best to assume that Israel's distress will not change Obama's intentions, and that dialogue with Iran will be the new strategy. There is no cause for panic. Sanctions did not prevent war against Saddam Hussein, and the war against Iraq did not turn the Middle East into a calmer region. Dialogue could be a refreshing change.” (Haaretz; 15Dec08; Zvi Bar’el) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1046219.html

[Rep. Edward J.] Markey [D-MA]: Nuclear Regulatory Commission reluctance to restrict dirty bomb material could be catastrophic
“Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today slammed a recommendation from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) dismissing efforts to ban or replace a potentially deadly radionuclide, cesium chloride. Though the National Academies of Sciences have labeled cesium chloride so dangerous that it should be phased-out completely, today’s NRC recommendation calls for a sole focus on improving the security of cesium chloride radiation sources. […] Cesium chloride is a highly radioactive isotope that appears in powdered or pellet form, making it highly portable and very dangerous.”
(Press Release, Rep. Markey’s Congressional Office; 12Dec08)

University of
Rochester [NY] to Investigate ‘post-radiation pill’
“The University of
Rochester is getting $10.4 million contract from the federal government to investigate medical countermeasures in the event of radiation exposure. The goal is to develop a pill that can be taken in the first 24 to 48 hours after a radiation event, in the event that there aren't enough medical personnel to handle a large amount of people. Researchers will test out eltrombopag, a drug in development that treats low blood platelet counts. Its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, is going to supply the drug to the university.” (WROC-TV; 15Dec08)

terrorism' [in the Middle East] biggest challenge, says U.K.
“Preventing terrorists from exploiting the nuclear power industry is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East, a top British official said at a meeting in Bahrain. Defence Secretary John Hutton said effective international inspection and regulation of the developing sector would be crucial to maintain security and prevent almost certain disaster. ‘Energy insecurity is driving an expansion of
civil nuclear power right across the world,’ he said […]. ‘But the expansion of civil nuclear power also increases the risk of sensitive technologies falling into the wrong hands or being applied for military purposes. […] Nuclear weapons proliferation is a first order security threat that must be dealt with now and not be brushed under the carpet.[…] What we do need is a proper international approach to the problem [of piracy] because it is first the responsibility of the regional nations and then the international community will do what it can with its resources to support that,’” (TradeArabia News Service;

'Terror' is the enemy [Op-Ed: Philip Bobbitt]
“Generals are not the only ones who prepare to fight the previous war. Our experience with 20th-century nation-based terrorists […] still dominates much of our thinking about how to deal with 21st-century global terrorists. Indeed, the lack of new concepts may well be as deadly to our national security as any lack of vaccines. […] We must use available international institutions - like the International Criminal Court, […]. […] [T]he commodification of weapons of mass destruction […] will place enormous demands on our
leadership. […] [B]y selecting a former law professor as its new president, the country has thoroughly dismissed the notion that law is an obstacle rather than a guide to achieving security.” [Philip Bobbitt, a law professor at Columbia and a former senior director at the National Security Council] (International Herald Tribune; 15Dec08; Philip Bobbitt) http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/15/opinion/edbobbitt.php

Panama begins radiation detection efforts at two ports

“The U.S. and Panama announced today that radiation detection efforts have begun at two of the busiest seaports in Latin America. Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) participated in a ceremony today in Panama. ‘We are working closely with the Panamanian National Customs Authority and with the private terminal operators in Panama to prevent nuclear
terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,’ said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey. ‘The success of this project reflects a strong commitment and desire on behalf of the Government of Panama to secure its ports from illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials.’” (National Nuclear Security Administration; 12Dec08) http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2243.htm

Powder in Carson City [NV] causes anthrax scare
“A powdery substance was found in an envelope in the state mailroom Friday with a state official later saying the substance in Carson City was not believed to be dangerous. Initial field testing had showed positive results for anthrax, but a later laboratory test with more sophisticated equipment was negative for anthrax late Friday. Gov. Jim Gibbons'
spokesman Daniel Burns said Friday night that the substance was not considered dangerous […]. A conclusive FBI test was pending late Friday.”
(Reno Gazette-Journal; 13Dec08)

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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