Plague outbreak denied [by Algerian Health Minisry]
“Algeria has dismissed reports that about 40 Al-Qaeda militants were killed by an outbreak of bubonic plague at a secret training camp in the country. ‘No case of plague of any type has been recorded in any region of Algeria since 2003,’ the health ministry said.” (Mercury; 05Feb09; Source: AFP)
Lawmakers: food safety fixes need push from Obama
“Fixing the nation's food safety woes may not be possible this year unless President Barack Obama makes it a top priority, a senior lawmaker warned after a hearing Thursday exposed loopholes in government oversight that contributed to the ongoing national salmonella outbreak. ‘I hope President Obama puts the weight of his office behind this,’ Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said. ‘It's going to require them to be actively pushing on this. This is a matter that we can't continue to put off.’” (Forbes; 05Feb09: Source: AP) http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/02/05/ap6015574.html
Are fears over bioterrorism stifling scientific research?
“Concerns about terrorism are prompting biologists in the US to break off collaborations, abandon research plans, and censor their findings, a new survey suggests. What's unclear, however, is whether this self-regulation represents a sensible response to the threat of bioterrorism, or is an overreaction that is stifling scientific progress. In recent years, awareness has grown of the potential danger of ‘dual-use’ biological research - projects with beneficial aims, but which also yield results that could be misused by terrorists or enemy states. [...] Now the US National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have released the biggest survey yet of biologists'attitudes to dual-use research, as the US government mulls whether further regulations are needed.” (New Scientist; 05Feb09; Peter Aldhous) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16539-fears-over-bioterrorism-may-be-stifling-scientific-research.html
US, Armenia governments to sign an agreement on biological threat reduction program
“The Government of the Republic of Armenia and the government of the United States of America are planning to sign the Agreement between the Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Armenia Concerning Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise that Could Be Used in the Development of Biological Weapons within the framework of the Biological Threat Reduction Program. […] The Program seeks partners in the global fight against biological weapons proliferation. […] Recognizing that disease has no boundaries, and terrorists remain a continuing threat, the parties believe it is imperative to form strategic partnerships to face these global challenges.” (Public Radio of Armenia; 05Feb09)
Storm slows ‘Swift Solution’ [to chemical weapons destruction]
“The recent inclement weather has put a temporary halt to Operation Swift Solution at the Blue Grass Army Depot, and operations are to begin again on Monday, Feb. 9. The project began in November and the goal is to destroy the contents of three, ‘ton’ containers, one of which leaked in August 2007. […] When this is completed, the operational facilities will be shut down and the temporary structures and equipment will be shipped back to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. […] Operation Swift Solution is an Army initiative that started operations Nov. 12, 2008, to destroy the contents of three steel containers commonly referred to as ‘ton containers,’ that held a corrosive mixture of the nerve agent GB and its breakdown product.” (Richmond Register; 05Feb09; Ronica Shannon) http://www.richmondregister.com/localnews/local_story_036220604.html
EU mulls Baltic Sea strategy
“The ‘Baltic Sea Strategy’ - the EU's first regional-level policy - is to create a new club for the eight Baltic coastal countries which may in future meet regularly at foreign minister level to push forward local-interest projects. […] Quirks of geography make the Baltic Sea vulnerable to pollution. Just 50 to 60 metres deep on average, it is linked to the oceans by the narrow Kattegat strait, meaning its waters are renewed once every 30 years. […] To make matters worse, German and Russian WWII-era ammunition - including up to 350,000 tonnes of chemical weapons - litters the sea bed. Germany and Russia plan in spring to start laying the ‘Nord Stream’ gas pipeline across the submerged minefield.” (Baltic Business News; 05Feb09; Marge Tubalkain-Trell) http://balticbusinessnews.com/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=e7a4099f-af3f-4551-acd4-8d8c955b8150#
Ancient Persians 'used chemical warfare'
“A cramped tunnel beneath a Middle Eastern fort might have produced the oldest evidence of chemical warfare, according to a CSI-style review of archival records. Presented at the recent meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, the review focused on the dramatic remains of 20 Roman soldiers unearthed in the 1930s in the city of Dura-Europos, Syria.
Sitting on a cliff overlooking the Euphrates River, the Roman fort at Dura was the site of a violent siege by the powerful Persian Empire around 256 AD. […] According to [Dr Simon] James [University of Leicester, England], the Persians, who had heard the Romans tunneling, ‘prepared a nasty surprise.’ They placed fire pits strategically throughout the tunnel, and when the Romans broke through, the Persians gassed them by adding sulfur crystals and bitumen to the fire. This filled the tunnel with toxic sulfur dioxide gas.” (ABC Science; 02Feb09; Rossella Lorenzi) http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/02/02/2479842.htm?site=science&topic=latest
Canada denies role in US rendition of Briton
“Canada's top diplomat [Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon] denied Friday any knowledge of two Canadian operatives who may have played a role in the alleged US rendition and torture of a British terror suspect. Binyam Mohamed, 31, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and transferred to the Guantanamo Bay prison in 2004, accused of planning an attack on US soil that included the use of radioactive material and chemical weapons. In the interim, his lawyers say he was flown to Morocco and interrogated, and after refusing to speak with Americans, a third-party intermediary who called herself ‘Sarah the Canadian’ was brought in. Mohamed also claimed he was interrogated later for about an hour by another woman who spoke French and said she was Canadian too.” (Agence France Presse; 06Feb09) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gPcCZt1SdPlH3rjIQ7j_p5SmdULA
Campaign promises: nuclear arms control
“[...] The abolition of nuclear weapons is now the stated policy of Barack Obama's White House. [...] [D]iscussion of the hows and whys and whethers has already begun. ‘We're on the front end of a big nuclear debate,’ says John Hamre, the president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank. [...] Obama [...] will fulfill another campaign vow when he appoints a White House nuclear issues coordinator to give special attention to nuclear proliferation and terrorism. [...] ‘We are in a different set of circumstances now, and the world hasn't adjusted,’ said former Sen. Sam Nunn, a Democrat from Georgia who has led efforts to address the dangers of nuclear terrorism. ‘We've got terrorists who are willing to give up their own lives …, loose nuclear material in large quantities … (and) the know-how is spread all over the world.’” (Global Post; 06Feb09; John Aloysius Farrell) http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/diplomacy/090205/campaign-promises-nuclear-arms-control
Suspicious package shuts down administrative area of [Deseret Chemical] depot [Utah]
“Depot workers were evacuated from several buildings in the administrative area of the depot today following the discovery of what appeared to be a suspicious package in a receiving warehouse at Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD). Airmen from the 775th Civil Engineering Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, Hill Air Force Base, responded to the warehouse and used a portable x-ray device to examine the package. The contents of the package were later identified as miscellaneous supply parts and conduit.” (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 05Feb09; Alaine Southworth)
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.