War on Terrorism

Friday, June 19, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-June 19, 2009

Hampton [VA] gives candy to train for bioterror[ism] attack
"Several city departments, schools and Sentara CarePlex hospital are training for a bioterrorism attack this week. To prepare for a possible bioterrorism attack, emergency response officials are practicing ways to distribute antibiotics to the public. […] The exercise started on Tuesday and continues through today at the Community Services Board lawn, 300 Medical Drive, and at the public works building, 419 N. Armistead Ave. 'If there should be an attack, the health department and its partners will need to dispense prophylactic antibiotics to all residents within 48 hours,' said city spokeswoman Rebecca Bolte. It's a routine exercise that is part of the city's emergency preparedness plan." (Daily Press, Newport News, VA; 18Jun09; Matthew Sturdevant) http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_terrordrill_0619jun19,0,5440818.story

Universal detection technology analysis of the al-Qaida biological weapon threat from the Mexican border [Los Angeles, CA]
"Universal Detection Technology, a developer of early-warning monitoring technologies to protect people from bioterrorism and other infectious health threats […] today issued an analysis of the al-Qaida biological weapon threat from the Mexican Border. U.S. counterterrorism officials have authenticated a video by an al-Qaida recruiter threatening to smuggle a biological weapon into the United States via tunnels under the Mexican border. […] 'The threat of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida smuggling biological weapons such as anthrax through the Mexican border is very alarming,' said Mr. Jacques Tizabi, UNDT's Chief Executive Officer. 'First responders should be equipped with the latest technologies to detect such weapons before they can harm anyone,' he added." (Globe Newswire; 18Jun09)

Russia pledges to meet 2009 chemical weapons disposal obligation
"A senior Russian official said this week that the nation would meet its obligation to destroy 45 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile by the end of this year. […] The mandate is set in the Chemical Weapons Convention. Russia's world's-largest chemical arsenal once stood at 40,000 metric tons, meaning 18,000 metric tons must be eliminated by Dec. 31 of this year. 'We are now fulfilling the third stage of the convention obligations to destroy chemical weapons, which require Russia to destroy 5,000 [metric tons] of toxic substances contained in 400,000 chemical ammunition units in 2009,' [said] Viktor Kholstov, of the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry. 'In 2008, we fulfilled the plan by destroying 5,970 [metric tons] of toxic substances.' The convention requires Russia to complete chemical demilitarization by April 2012. Observers have expressed skepticism about the nation's pledge to meet that deadline." (Global Security Newswire; 18Jun09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090618_5864.php

OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Director-General opens regional workshop in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
"The Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, on 10 June 2009 opened the Regional Workshop for Customs Authorities in Asia on Technical Aspects of the Transfers Regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that is being co-hosted by the People's Republic of China and the OPCW and organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR) of China. […] Pfirter noted the crucial role that customs authorities play in the effective implementation of the Convention. […] Pfirter commended […] China for its invaluable support for the [CWC] and the work of the OPCW, and expressed his appreciation for Hong Kong['s] full and effective implementation of the Convention. Noting that the workshop was held in Hong Kong SAR, he also expressed the hope that countries in the region could benefit from Hong Kong's practices and experience. [… Pfirter] is also scheduled to visit [the island of] Macao […] and Guang Dong Province […] for meetings with local authorities in charge of implementation of the [CWC]. The visit to Guang Dong will include a tour of the warehouse for abandoned chemical weapons." (OPCW; 11Jun09)

[Op-Ed] Disarmament lessons from the Chemical Weapons Convention

"The recent joint declaration by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to negotiate a new treaty reducing their countries' nuclear stockpiles as a first step toward 'a nuclear-weapon-free world' has spurred hopes for renewed progress in global disarmament after a decade of gridlock. An excellent example of how nations can work together effectively within a multilateral framework to eliminate weapons of mass destruction is the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). […] A regime of industrial inspections has been established under the convention to ensure that new chemical weapons do not emerge and to prevent the illicit spread of toxic chemicals that could be used for weapons. The global chemical industry has been a valuable partner in these efforts by actively promoting adherence to the convention and helping to sustain the effectiveness of the industrial inspections. [… The] programs [of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] are based on an ethos of mutual support and have attracted increased interest as a means to reduce the risk of terrorists using chemical weapons. […] Another virtue of the convention is its nondiscriminatory character. All member states share the same rights and obligations, and those with chemical weapons must declare and destroy them, without exception. […] These virtues have enabled rivals to find common ground for strengthening international peace and security." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 16Jun09; Mikhail Gorbachev and Rogelio Pfirter)

Sheboygan [WI] reservists train for simulated bomb attack
"100 Army reservists from around the country were in Sheboygan participating in [a] drill dubbed 'Operation Red Dragon,' which tested the military and hospital's aptitude in responding to a large-scale disaster scenario. […] Wednesday's scenario involved a hypothetical dirty bomb explosion at Miller Park in Milwaukee. […] Military personnel wearing yellow Hazmat suits met victims outside the hospital. […] The victims, who were supposed to be suffering from radiation poisoning and shrapnel wounds … were] scanned with Geiger counters to see if they were at a safe level of radiation to be admitted inside the hospital for further treatment. […] A consortium of federal, state and local authorities operating from a command center in the hospital oversaw the entire training operation." (Greenbay Press Gazette; 18Jun09; Josh Lintereur)

Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear marines train to stay ahead of hazardous material threats [at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq]
"Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear [CBRN] Defense Marines from various units recently completed a […] CBRN Defense course conducted aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. The Toxic Industrial Chemical Protection and Detection Equipment operator's course re-familiarized the Marines with advanced CBRN response tactics, and required the Marines to spend much of the week inside tight and hot confines of a hazardous material suit. The course refined the Marines' skills in detecting and sampling suspected contaminants, and them taking steps to protect themselves, their fellow service members and the environment against various hazardous substances. The final part of the course had the Marines respond to a suspected hazardous substance. […] The Marines donned their 'Level-A' suits and […] tested for a variety of agents and packaged samples for documentation and further testing. […] By cycling all the Marines through the survey and decontamination stations, [Chief Warrant Officer James] Brookshire was able to ensure all the CBRN defense specialists walked away from the course with the most knowledge and experience." (Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System; 18Jun09; LCpl. Brian Marion)

US military tracking ship from N[orth] Korea that may be carrying illicit weapons, officials say
"The U.S. military is tracking a ship from North Korea that may be carrying illicit weapons, the first vessel monitored under tougher new United Nations rules meant to rein in and punish the […] government following a nuclear test, officials said. […] Officials said the U.S. is monitoring the voyage of the North Korean-flagged Kang Nam, which left port in North Korea on Wednesday. […] On Thursday, it was traveling in the Pacific Ocean. […] What the Kang Nam was carrying was not known, but the ship has been involved in weapons proliferation, [an] official said. The ship is among a group that is watched regularly but is the only one believed to have cargo that could potentially violate the U.N. resolution." (Star Tribune, MN; 18Jun09; Anne Gearan and Pauline Jelinek; Source: AP)

[Op-Ed] It's not wet stuff on the red stuff anymore [Firefighters' role in CBRN defense]
"Since 9/11, homeland security has become a new role for firefighters. Departments throughout the United States are being trained for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive accidents and threats, including weapons of mass destruction. Firefighters may be the first line of defense in a terrorist or domestic attack or emergency. We must identify the style of attack, method of destruction, and chemicals or other materials used, just like on the TV program CSI. This was unheard of 30 years ago in fire service. So the workload and knowledge required to be a firefighter has increased 10-fold." (Muskogee Phoenix; 18Jun09; Derek Tatum, Muskogee Fire Department Chief)

First responders receive training [Nassau, The Bahamas]
"Officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Customs Department, Airport Crash and Rescue and the Port Department wrapped up an intensive three-week course on Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Weapons yesterday. […] The course was a collaborative effort between the U.S. State Department and The Bahamas government to prepare first responders to effectively handle state emergencies such as terrorist attacks. Twenty-three participants […] were taught to respond, mitigate and rescue in an emergency situation from an attack of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear terrorism. 'This was probably one of the most professional groups I have ever seen,' [Instructor Patrick Richards, who works for the Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program for the U.S. State Department] said. […] Richards said they have carried out the training worldwide and while the course has been around for a number of years, the three-week-long course is the first with new and updated equipment and training materials." (Freeport News; 19Jun09; Angelo Armbrister)

China, Singapore hold joint anti-terror[ism] training exercises
"China and Singapore are conducting a joint anti-terrorism training exercise in Guilin in the southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, military sources said Thursday. The drill, 'Cooperation-2009,' involves 61 soldiers and officers of the People's Liberation Army and 61 of their Singapore counterparts. […] The exercise started Thursday and will conclude June 26. The exercise will conduct simulations of an attempt by international terrorists to attack an expo using radioactive contaminants, biological and chemical weapons.The task forces will conduct joint training and seminars to improve their ability to detect and handle those threats. […] The joint training exercises were arranged by defense authorities of the two countries, and they represent the PLA's first joint operation with foreign forces in security maintenance." (Isria; 18Jun09)

N[orth] Korea's chemical arms as grave as nukes
"North Korea's massive stockpile of chemical weapons is as threatening as its nuclear program, analysts said Thursday, highlighting an aspect of the secretive regime's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that is rarely talked about. Adding to already high tensions in the region, a Japanese report said North Korea may fire its most advanced ballistic missile toward Hawaii around Independence Day. […] North Korea spurned the U.N. Security Council resolution with threats of war and pledges to expand its nuclear bomb-making program. The missile now being readied in the North is believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), and would be launched from North Korea's Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast. […] Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs are centerpieces of the regime's catalog of weapons of mass destruction. But the impoverished nation, which has put most of its scarce resources into boosting its military capabilities under its 'army-first' policy, also has a large chemical arsenal, as well as capabilities to produce biological weapons. On Thursday, an international security think tank warned that these weapons are no less serious a threat to the region than the North's nuclear arsenal. The independent International Crisis Group said the North is believed to have between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents and sarin." (Boston Globe; Jae-Soon Chang; 18Jun09; Source: AP)

White powder scare at the federal building [Richmond, VA]
"Richmond Fire and Hazmat Crews received a call this morning at approximately 7:45 am to respond to The Federal Building at 400 North 8th Street due to a white powder substance found in a stairwell. Richmond Fire and Hazmat are on the scene [this morning]. Fire officials say at the onset, it doesn't seem to be anything significant; however, samples will be taken and tested." (CBS6 WTVR; 19Jun09)

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