Monday, March 09, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 9, 2009

Tiny fungus [soybean rust] presents big threat to Delmarva [DL] soybean industry
“After several years of waiting and worrying, soybean rust, an oddly named but potentially devastating plant disease, had come to Delmarva. […] An unchecked outbreak of Asian soybean rust could cause economic havoc for farmers and trigger a ripple effect into other agricultural industries such as poultry, warns Bob Mulrooney, a University of Delaware Cooperative Extension plant pathologist and member of the Delaware Soybean Rust Team. […] A single infected plant can send out six million spores in a day. To catch the disease early, crop scientists maintain a series of test plots around the region, checking regularly for signs of rust. Soybean rust had been placed on a ‘select agents’ list of potential bioterrorism agents, said Faith Kuehn, plant industries administrator for the Delaware Department of Agriculture.” (News Journal; 09Mar09; Dan Shortridge)
http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090309/NEWS/903090341

[Editorial by Chuck Woolery] A larger terrorism threat \
“Michael Krepon made some excellent points regarding an overblown fear of nuclear blasts [‘5 Myths About All Those Nukes Out There,’ Outlook, March 1]. But his focus on ‘nuclear’ […] missed the most probable half of that threat assessment. […] Biological weapons are infinitely cheaper and easier to make than nuclear weapons, and they are infinitely easier to deliver anonymously to their target. We can barely protect people from contaminated peanut butter, and most Americans have no idea of the human and economic catastrophe that a weaponized strain of smallpox could create. […] Our best line of defense is in a durable national health-care system and infrastructure. Greater federal investments in recruiting and training nurses would do more for our national security than worrying about nuclear attacks.” (Washington Post; 07Mar09; Chuck Woolery) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2009/03/07/AR2009030701667.html

Food problems elude private inspectors
“When food industry giants like Kellogg want to ensure that American consumers are being protected from contaminated products, they rely on private inspectors like Eugene A. Hatfield. So last spring Mr. Hatfield headed to the Peanut Corporation of America plant in southwest Georgia […] [where he] was given less than a day to inspect the Peanut Corporation of America’s plant in Blakely, Ga., which was closed after it was linked to [a] nationwide outbreak of salmonella. ‘The overall food safety level of this facility was considered to be: SUPERIOR,’ he concluded […]. The rigor of audits varies widely and many companies choose the cheapest ones, which cost as little as $1,000, in contrast to the $8,000 the Food and Drug Administration spends to inspect a plant.” (New York Times; 06Mar09; Michael Moss and Andrew Martin) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/06/business/06food.html

Russia offers hope for global disarmament talks
“Russia's foreign minister called Saturday for an end to a decade of failure in global disarmament talks, seeking to build on an upbeat meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sergey Lavrov said a stalemate at the Conference on Disarmament on issues from atomic bombs to space weapons can be broken now that the U.S. administration is ‘in favor of multilateral approaches to the maintenance of international security and disarmament.’ […] Confidence in the body was shattered in the early years of George W. Bush's administration, when the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and from six years of talks on a biological weapons ban.” (Associated Press; 07Mar09; Bradley S. Klapper) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hiDcqLF0ofbB1mqfcVwm0hfFS2AAD96P89D80

‘Swift Solution’ [chemical waste disposal] could conclude by end of the month
“The waste from three steel containers stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot [KY] has safely arrived at its disposal location at Veolia Environmental Services near Port Arthur, Texas, successfully completing stage three of Operation Swift Solution that began Nov. 12, 2008. The project should be entirely completed by the end of this month or early April. […] Joseph J. Novad, deputy operations and engineering manager for the U.S. Army Element, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) [said] ‘We’re working with KDEP to get final approval so that we can start final demobilization and actually start packing up all the equipment and shipping it back to Maryland.’” (Richmond Register; 07Mar09; Ronica Shannon)
http://www.richmondregister.com/localnews/local_story_066222326.html

Global Green USA welcomes opening of major U.S.-supported chemical weapons destruction facility in Russia
“Global Green USA welcomes the opening today by the Russian Federation of its new chemical weapons (CW) destruction facility in the Kurgan Oblast, just north of Kazakhstan and just east of the Ural Mountain Range. […] [T]he chemical weapons stockpile which will be neutralized and destroyed over the next several years is one of seven CW stockpiles declared by Russia under [the] auspices of the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Shchuch’ye construction project has been the largest in the history of the US Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR or ‘Nunn-Lugar’) Program and US funding represents approximately 50% of total project costs.” (Global Green; 05Mar09)
http://www.globalgreen.org/press/92

Changes to Canadian reservist training
“Training for Canadian reserve soldiers has shifted to creating special units to respond to domestic threats and disasters, a brigadier general said. In an interview with The National Post, Canadian army Brig. Gen. Jean Collin said […] the units would be trained in responding to terrorist ‘dirty bomb’ threats, nuclear mishaps, natural disasters and Arctic catastrophes. […] The remodeling that began in January is expected to take two to three years to complete, and will likely see reservists bolstering security at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, he said.” (United Press International; 05Mar09) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/03/05/Changes_to_Canadian_reservist_training/UPI-63341236277714/

Border lawmakers fear drug-[nuclear] terrorism link
“Members of Congress are raising the alarm that war-like conditions on the Mexican border could lead to Mexican drug cartels helping terrorists attack the U.S. ‘When you have…gangs and they have loose ties with al Qaeda and then you have Iran not too far away from building a nuclear capability, nuclear terrorism may not be far off,’ said Rep. Trent Franks (R- AZ.), a member of the House Armed Services committee. […] Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), whose district borders Mexico, said that while the situation is bad, it could easily get worse. ‘The goal of the cartels is to make money,’ said Cuellar, who sits on the House Homeland Security committee. ‘If they can smuggle in drugs and human cargo, then certainly they can smuggle other things in, other devices to cause us harm.’” (The Hill; 07Mar09; Jordy Yager) http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/border-lawmakers-fear-extent-of-drug-cartel-violence-2009-03-07.html

*Anthrax [sic] hoaxes pile up, as does their cost
“In the 7 1/2 years since America's worst bioterrorist attack -- when letters laced with anthrax [sic] spores killed five people, closed Congress and the Supreme Court, and crippled [the] mail service for months -- U.S. agencies have spent more than $50 billion to beef up biological defenses. No other anthrax [sic] attacks have occurred. But a flood of anthrax [sic] hoaxes and false alarms have raised the cost considerably through lost work, emergency evacuations, decontamination efforts, first-responders’ time and the emotional distress of the victims. That, experts say, is often the hoaxer’s goal. ‘It’s easy, it’s cheap, and very few perpetrators get caught,’ said Leonard Cole, a political scientist at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., who studies bioterrorism. ‘People do it for a sense of power.’” (Los Angeles Times; 08Mar09; Bob Drogin) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-anthrax-threats8-2009mar08,0,1706388.story

Anthrax [sic] scare at Sherman [TX] Post Office
“Authorities say a postal worker spotted a suspicious package and opened it. Inside, he found a letter that alluded to anthrax [sic]. The worker was immediately quarantined and Sherman Police and Fire called in. The specialists determined that it was not anthrax [sic] but rather food, something similar to cream of wheat. Authorities say the package had already gone through several screenings. Federal authorities are now investigating.” (Kten News; 07Mar09)
http://www.kten.com/Global/story.asp?S=9960349&nav=menu410_3

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.

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