War on Terrorism

Friday, April 03, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- April 3, 2009

What is Anthrax?
"Anthrax is one of the oldest recorded diseases, mentioned in the biblical book of Exodus and among classical Greek and Roman authors. Devastating epidemics of the disease were recorded by medieval and modern writers. It has been called wool sorter's disease because is contracted by humans who handle wool and inhale spores from dried feces. […] The American Lung Association notes that most suspicious powders turn out to be something else. […] Another characteristic making anthrax [sic] an effective biological agent is that anthrax spores can be stored for decades without losing their viability." (Highlands Today; 03Apr09; Gary Pinnell) http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2009/apr/03/la-what-is-anthrax/

Goldman School portal takes the worry out of 'experiments of [biosecurity] concern' [Berkeley, CA]
"Scientists call them 'experiments of concern' - research projects designed to advance human knowledge or cure disease, but with potentially lethal applications should the results fall into the wrong hands. The burgeoning field of synthetic biology, which aims for nothing less than to chemically engineer new forms of microbial life (or replicate existing ones), poses special risks. […] Now Steve Maurer, director of the Information Technology and Homeland Security Project at the Goldman School of Public Policy, is about to launch an online advice portal he hopes will not only provide some answers, but will also represent a significant step toward mitigating the dangers - whatever they might be - of well-intentioned synthetic-biology research. […] Although the advice won't be binding, Maurer hopes the existence of the portal - along with a new virulent-gene database, VIREP, he and Christopher are working to create - will give the synthetic-biology community a meaningful way to regulate its own behavior." (UC Berkeley News; 02Apr09; Barry Bergman) http://www.berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/2009/04/02_concern.shtml

Anthrax lawsuit dismissed: disabled postal worker David Hose filed case in 2004 [MA]
"A $12 million lawsuit against the federal government, filed by a city man who was exposed to anthrax spores, was dismissed Tuesday. In an interview last August, David Hose of Winchester said he was taking nine medications as a result of his exposure to anthrax spores at a Sterling mail-processing facility in October 2001. Hose filed a $12 million lawsuit against the federal government in 2004, alleging negligence on the part of the government in its handling of its anthrax [sic] supply, as well as its failure to adequately protect the State Department mail room workers. That case was dismissed Tuesday. David R. Hose came into contact with an anthrax-laced envelope [sic] in October 2001 while working as a contract supervisor in a State Department mail-processing facility in Sterling [MA]." (Winchester Star; 02Apr09; Monty Tayloe) http://www.winchesterstar.com/showarticle_new.php?sID=6&foldername=20090402&file=Anthrax%20_article.html

Top Canadian prize goes to Stanford scientist Lucy Shapiro for bringing cell biology into three dimensions

"Shapiro's work showed for the first time that bacterial DNA replication occurs in a spatially organized way and that the act of replication and the subsequent segregation of the DNA to opposite ends of the cell dictates the cellular position and time of function of the cell division machine. Members of her lab also proved the existence of master genetic regulators of the bacterial cell cycle. […She is] now a member of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. 'It's very important to me that people know what to be afraid of-and what not to be afraid of,' said Shapiro, who believes that increasing levels of both antibiotic resistance and novel infectious agents are likely to be a larger threat than bioterrorism. 'It's not that the threat of bioterrorism doesn't exist. It does,' she said. 'But we are now sitting in the center of a perfect storm with regards to global health and natural outbreaks of infectious disease.'" (Medical News Today; 02Apr09) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/144643.php

Access to buffer zone key to agricultural recovery - FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organization]
"Gaza's battered agricultural sector has the capacity to recover but only if there is access to the buffer zone and only if Gaza's commercial crossings are fully opened, according to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on Gaza. […] FAO, UN Development Programme teams and NGOs cannot access the area to conduct post-conflict assessments, or implement relief and development projects. It is unknown how much unexploded ordnance (UXO) remains on farmland. Reports of chemical weapons' residues are being investigated by UN Mine Action teams (who are not permitted to speak to the press)." (Reuters; 02Apr09; Source: Integrated Regional Information Networks) http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/176866865f7159d566270410332f71ed.htm

[Deseret Chemical] Depot begins destroying mustard mortars [UT]
"Under supervision of state regulators, workers at Deseret Chemical Depot have begun processing HT mustard agent-filled cartridges, or mortars, as part of ongoing disposal operations. There are two types of mustard agent filled 4.2-inch mortars at Deseret Chemical Depot: HT mustard, which has a lower freezing point and makes up the majority of these munitions and HD, or distilled mustard. All munitions were reconfigured to remove their explosive propellant charges several years ago […] A Deseret Chemical press release said state regulatory authorities are observing the sampling and analysis of the HT mortars prior to disposal to ensure compliance with mercury emission standards. HT mortar destruction is expected to be completed this year." (Deseret News; 02Apr09; Amy Joi O'Donoghue) http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705294665/Depot-begins-destroying-mortars.html

Russian disposal site eliminates lewisite stockpile
"A Russian chemical weapons disposal facility has eliminated the 6.4-metric-ton stockpile of lewisite stored in bulk containers at the Kambarka depot in Udmurtia, ITAR-Tass reported yesterday […] Russia possessed the world's largest stockpile of chemical agents, an arsenal that stood at 40,000 metric tons before disposal operations began. It has pledged to meet the April 2012 Chemical Weapons Convention deadline for full elimination of the arsenal, though some observers doubt whether the nation can achieve that goal (ITAR-Tass, April 1)." (Global Security Newswire; 02Apr09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090402_4822.php

Team waits for tests on weapons off Pearl Harbor [HI]
"Researchers at the University of Hawaii are analyzing data from the deep ocean floor south of Pearl Harbor that will determine where chemical weapons from World War II were dumped. The UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology headed the mission. Deep-sea submersibles spent 17 days exploring the sea floor 1,500 feet below sea level, 5 miles south of Pearl Harbor. […] 'We sampled 19 different locations, four areas we saw in terms of ordnance, 1,000 or 2,000 things that looked like they were ordnance,' UH researcher Margo Edwards said. […] The assistant Army secretary [Tad Davis] said a preliminary report could be released in about six months." (ABC 4, KITV; 02Apr09) http://www.kitv.com/news/19082089/detail.html

Moroccan party calls for Spanish damages over chemical war in 1920s
"Increasing voices in Morocco want the country to demand damages from Spain for the use of chemical weapons during the 1920-26 Rif war, press reports said Thursday. Colonial powers Spain and France put down a rebellion in the northern mountainous Rif region, which was part of the Spanish protectorate at the time. […] 'It is our right to demand compensation for the victims of the Spanish chemical war,' parliament president Moustapha Mansouri, of the RNI, said. 'We have documents proving the horrors committed in the Rif,' he explained. Mansouri's call for damages was backed by media commentators, who said the government should take up the case, instead of a single party. […] Spanish critics of such demands have pointed out that the Moroccan regime itself used napalm to quash an uprising in the Rif in the 1950s." (Earth Times; 02Apr09) http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/262685,moroccan-party-calls-for-spanish-damages-over-chemical-war-in-1920s.html

Dominican Republic to be 187th nation in chemical weapons treaty
"Dominican Republic would become the 187th member state to join the international treaty banning production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons, the organization that monitors compliance with the pact announced today. […] The convention will enter into force in the Dominican Republic on April 26. […] It [the OPCW] said eight nations remain outside the treaty -- Angola, the Bahamas, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia and Syria." (Dominican Today; 01Apr09) http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/world/2009/4/1/31580/Dominican-Republic-to-be-187th-nation-in-chemical-weapons-treaty

Editorial: 'fresh start' for Russia, U.S.
"President Obama has had his first meeting with [Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev […] The two issued a 1,500-word communique after their meeting Wednesday in London that promised a 'fresh start' and a 'fresh tone' in U.S.-Russian relations. The centerpiece is an agreement to begin fast-track negotiations on a new nuclear arms limitation treaty to further cut the two nations' nuclear arsenals. […] About half of the joint statement dealt with mutual concerns over nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism and securing existing stocks of nuclear weapons and materiel. […] Obama and Medvedev did agree that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan posed a threat to both nations." (Daily News Tribune; 02Apr09) http://www.dailynewstribune.com/editorials/x148337886/Editorial-Fresh-start-for-Russia-U-S

IAEA to assist KISR [Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research to] set up nuclear progress unit
"A senior Kuwaiti official extolled here Wednesday existing cooperation between the State of Kuwait and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over Kuwait's nuclear plan and anti-radioactivity efforts. […] Concerning Kuwait's integrated national plan to prevent radioactive risks and perils, he said all Kuwaiti state agencies involved are doing their best to control potential smuggling of radioactive materials with a view to thwarting nuclear terrorism. […] A Kuwaiti delegation will be invited soon to meet IAEA officials on bilateral cooperation in the desert cultivation area, he pointed out." (Arab Times; 01Apr09)

Pakistan atom security top-notch despite fears: aide
"Nuclear-armed Pakistan maintains security around atomic sites that is second to none and the world has no cause for concern, a senior Pakistani official said, despite Islamist militancy battering the country. Muhammad Khaliq, project director for Pakistan's Nuclear Security Action Plan, outlined improvements to Pakistani atomic controls to a 90-nation meeting reviewing strategy against possible nuclear terrorism and in remarks to Reuters. […] U.S. commanders involved in fighting resurgent Taliban guerrillas in adjacent Afghanistan and Pakistan's chaotic border areas say Pakistani secret services have ties with groups close to al Qaeda and the Taliban, something Islamabad denies. […] Pakistan's prime minister said last year that its nuclear command and control structure was 'well conceived' and had 'matured,' and its atomic bombs were safe and secure." (Reuters; 02Apr09; Mark Heinrich)

IAEA may need intelligence arm against atom terror [sic]
"The U.N. atomic watchdog [sic] may need to set up its own intelligence unit to combat a growing menace of nuclear terrorism, a former senior CIA official said in an interview Wednesday. 'The good news is that no credible information has surfaced that al Qaeda has obtained weapons-usable nuclear materials. The bad news is that (these) are missing in significant quantities,' said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. He said the International Atomic Energy Agency, with its expertise probing shadowy nuclear activity in Iran and the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling ring, could be well placed to transcend national barriers to intelligence-sharing on atomic threats. […] He said Pakistan, grappling with increasing attacks by Islamist militants that U.S. officials say have links to elements of the Pakistani security services, topped the list of countries regarded as the most likely sources of nuclear materials or know-how getting into the hands of terrorists." (Reuters; 01Apr09; Mark Heinrich)

Accused Frisco shooter says he [Edward Mike Ji] hunted victims, planned to kill [San Francisco, CA]
"Edward Mike Ji confessed to police that he shot a teen for no reason three years ago during one of his so-called 'hunting trips,' […] He told police that he also thought about killing his parents, poisoning people with homemade ricin and going on a shooting spree at Frisco High School. […] Ji initially was arrested Aug. 1, 2006 and Frisco residents breathed a sigh of relief. But that relief turned to outrage eight months later, when Ji was released to his parents after they posted his $100,000 bail. The community outcry led to Ji being rearrested the next day. He has been in the Collin County Jail since in lieu of $1.7 million bail." (Dallas Morning News; 02Apr09; Wendy Hundley) http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/frisco/stories/040209dnmetjitrial.3c9b3bc.html

Authorities say white powder has tested negative for anthrax [sic]
"Authorities have determined that the substance found in at least 30 envelopes in Sebring have initially tested negative for anthrax [sic], according to the FBI. This morning's anthrax scare, which started at Florida Hospital Heartland Division when 48 envelopes were found on cars parked there, has spread to a total [of] least 30 locations, according to Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton. […] Jeff Larnard, a substitute mail carrier, was going about his normal mail delivery procedure on Thursday morning, when he found five or six suspicious envelopes in the Sun 'n Lakes neighborhood. 'They were the size of a thank you note with a smiley face on the back,' Larnard said. […] Krepski said she has observed emergency personnel in hazmat suits walking through the hospital. She said she was told by a nurse that the envelopes contained a note saying 'beware of anthrax.' [sic] Hospital staff, she said, are doing what they can to keep guests as comfortable as possible. The Department of Homeland Security is monitoring the situation, department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said." (Tampa Tribune; 02Apr09; Laura Nesbitt, Highlands Today & Ray Reyes, Tampa Tribune) http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/apr/02/hazardous-material-unit-florida-hospital-sebring/

Oregon man [David A. Groves] sentenced to 15 months in fake anthrax [sic] mailings
"An Oregon man who mailed dozens of threatening letters laced with phony anthrax to governmental agencies and businesses across the nation was sentenced this week to 15 months in prison. At the end of the day, government agents found the 'anthrax' [sic] to be fireplace ashes and what appeared to be ground oyster shells. […] [FBI] Agents cracked the case in the spring of 2008 through fingerprint analysis, according to prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office in Portland. Later, state and federal crime labs linked their suspect's DNA to more letters. Groves produced evidence at his sentencing on Tuesday to show that he suffered such severe bipolar disorder that he was sometimes struck with occasional psychotic episodes."(Oregonian; 01Apr09; Byran Denson)

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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