War on Terrorism

Monday, June 22, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-June 22, 2009

Barrow County practices emergency responses [GA]
"Emergency responders scrambled to the scene of an anthrax-carrying [sic] plane earlier this month in Barrow County. Except […] it was a drill that had been planned for about a month to test preparedness. Barrow County Emergency Management Agency, Barrow County Sheriff's Office, Barrow County Fire & Emergency Services, Winder Police Department, Winder Fire Department, Barrow County Public Health as well as the District Health Office, Barrow Regional Medical Center and other resources participated. […] When responders were advised there was a possibility of anthrax on the plane, the hazardous materials team went into action researching response tactics. Simulating the evacuation of a quarter-mile perimeter, Barrow County Sheriff's deputies and Winder Police officers responded and were involved in the search for a 'suspect' who may have been exposed to anthrax [spores]. […] Concerns expanded as a 'suspect' from the plane may be exposing others. Health department officials would be needed to administer medication. County participants said the drill provided real insight into the strengths of the working relationships but highlighted the need for stepped-up communication." (Gainsville Times; 21Jun09; Leanne Akin)

Regional disaster exercise is June 23 [MN]
"Nicollet County Public Health and Nicollet County Emergency Management along with River's Edge Hospital and Clinic in St. Peter will be participating in a region-wide Disaster Communications Exercise on Tuesday, June 23. […] The exercise will test the organization's communications infrastructure, technology and responsiveness in the event of a large-scale disaster or other emergency. 'Participating in exercises such as this helps our staff practice their emergency response procedures and gives us an opportunity to identify areas in which we can improve,' says Karen Swenson, Nicollet County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator. […] During the exercise, area regional hospitals, county public health agencies and emergency management personnel will be asked to communicate with other organizations using multiple methods of communications including, but not limited to, phone, fax, e-mail and radio." (St. Peter Herald; 18Jun09)

Weld [CO] health officials plan exercise of pandemic response [occurred 18-19 June 2009]
"The office of Public Health Preparedness at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment and their partners will conduct a medical surge exercise tomorrow and Friday at the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association campus near Windsor. 'We will test our plans that we developed to make sure they are reasonable,' said Gaye Morrison, Weld County Director of Health Communication. 'We want to make sure that they work in the case of a real emergency.' The exercise is designated to test operational procedures and develop a scalable model for establishing an alternate care site during an incident that involves mass human casualties. 'In the event of a pandemic, hospitals will still have to take care of regular duties such as heart attacks and births, so we will need additional room to take care of other patients,' said Jon Surbeck, Director of Emergency Preparedness. 'We need to identify the specific infrastructure for this type of event.' A football field-sized tent will be used in the exercise. […] 'Finding out if this works will be very beneficial if there happens to be a pandemic among the community and the hospitals are full,' Morrison said. 'We are just taking a step forward to be more prepared.'" (Windsor Beacon; 18Jun09; Ryan Vogle)

Pyongyang has huge chemical arms stockpile
"North Korea is thought to have up to 5,000 tonnes of chemical weapons deliverable by artillery or missile to cause massive civilian casualties in South Korea. […] The stockpile includes between 2,500-5,000 tonnes of mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents, sarin, tabun and persistent nerve agents and can be delivered by long-range artillery, missiles, aircraft and naval vessels, the International Crisis Group [ICG] said. […] The Brussels-based ICG said Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities are the greatest threat, but it also has a large chemical weapons stockpile and a suspected biological weapons programme. The ICG estimate of the chemical stockpile is the same as that previously given by South Korea's defence ministry, but the report gave new details of the programme. 'This […] poses a significant danger because it risks deliberate, accidental or unauthorised WMD attack or incident,' [the ICG] said. It probably has somewhere between six and twelve nuclear weapons. 'The situation on the Korean peninsula is more tense than ever,' [the ICG] said." (The Peninsula, Qatar; 19Jun09; Source: AFP)

Plant protection faces scrutiny, chemical makers question technology mandate before Congress
"A chemical industry representative urged Congress last week to pass legislation establishing permanent chemical facility security standards before the existing regulations expire this October. American Chemistry Council [ACC] 'member companies fully recognize that more work needs to be done to continue protecting the nation's chemical sector,' said Martin J. Durbin, vice president of federal affairs at ACC. […] ACC […] and other industry trade groups want Congress to reauthorize without significant changes the current rules, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Companies are still implementing these rules and are concerned that new requirements may disrupt efforts already undertaken to comply with the law. But Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, has introduced legislation […] that […] will 'enhance the program' by making facilities analyze how they can change their internal processes to reduce the potential consequences of a terrorist attack. Thompson's proposal is 'an important first step' toward establishing permanent chemical security regulations, Durbin said. But he expressed concern about several provisions, including one that would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to mandate process changes at facilities. The mandate for 'inherently safer technology' requires facilities designated as the highest risk targets to take steps as determined by DHS to reduce the risk of death and injury caused by a terrorist attack." (Chemical and Engineering News; 22Jun09; Glenn Hess) http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/87/i25/8725notw3.html

RegeneRx working with U.S. military to test TB4 [RGN-259 eye drops] against exposure to chemical agents in the eye [Bethesda, MD]
"Regenerx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. […] announced today that it is collaborating with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD) […] to evaluate TB4's […] ability to prevent or reduce damage to the eye caused by exposure to chemical agents. The ability to prevent or reduce such damage is the focus of substantial efforts by both the military and homeland security. The project will consist of a series of research experiments over the next twelve months with TB4 […] and is in Phase II clinical trials. […] Several scientific articles [have been published] describing TB4's ability to reduce damage from a number of different chemical agents by reducing inflammation and promoting re-epithelialization to repair the cornea. Other scientific teams have reported TB4's ability to promote stem cell differentiation to protect and repair tissue in the heart and skin. 'We are pleased to be working with U.S. military on this important project. We hope their work will lead to the use of our technology for treatment of eyes exposed to caustic chemicals. RegeneRx is prepared to assist in any way possible to support efforts to protect our military personnel and citizens from exposure to debilitating or life-threatening chemical agents,' stated J.J. Finkelstein, RegeneRx's president and CEO." (Business Wire; 22Jun09) http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090622005904&newsLang=en

Ex-Soviet arms experts nonproliferation efforts hit by global crisis
"Reduced international contributions have endangered the work of a Moscow-based organization dedicated to providing civilian opportunities for weapons specialists once employed by the Soviet Union. […] 'Our center clearly has less funds available than two or three years ago,' said Adriaan van der Meer, head of the International Science and Technology Center [ISTC]. The program has assisted more than 70,000 former Soviet scientists with employment opportunities […] in an effort to keep them from selling their expertise to a rogue nation or terrorist organization. [ISTC] remains involved in efforts to prevent proliferation of potential biological weapon agents in Russia, Asia and Europe. […] The organization spent only $26.2 million last year. […] Van der Meer blamed the funding shortage on the worldwide economic downturn and on a shift of nonproliferation efforts to nations such as Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. The ISTC is a non-profit established by an international agreement in November 1992 as a program to prevent […] the proliferation of […] weapons of mass destruction." (MosNews; 20Jun09) http://www.mosnews.com/military/2009/06/20/nonproliferationeffortcuts/

Singapore to act if North Korea ship has WMD
"Singapore will take action against a North Korean ship that the United States is monitoring, if the vessel heads to its port with a cargo of weapons. […] 'Singapore takes seriously the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials,' said a spokeswoman from the [Singapore] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. […] The US Navy is monitoring a vessel called Kang Nam at sea under new UN sanctions that bar North Korea from exporting weapons. […] Singapore, a US ally, has the world's busiest shipping port […] and is also the world's top ship refueling hub. […] The US officials said the ship became 'a subject of interest' after leaving a North Korean port on Wednesday. The Kang Nam is the first ship to be monitored under the UN sanctions adopted last week after Pyongyang raised tensions by test-firing missiles, restarting a plant to produce arms-grade plutonium and conducting a nuclear test. North Korea's media on Saturday said it was not threatened by new sanctions after a UN committee said it was considering blacklisting more North Korea companies, and individuals, for supporting Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs." (Buenos Aires Herald; 21Jun09

S[outh] Korea participates in its first [Proliferation Security Initiative] PSI-member activity
"South Korea started its first official act as a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), dispatching a director-level foreign ministry official to an international meeting. […] The South Korean government has sent Lee Jang-geun, director of the foreign ministry's disarmament and nonproliferation department, to serve at the PSI's European Regional Operational Experts Group meeting, held in Sopot, Poland. The forum, held from June 22 to 24, invites non-regional members as well, along with its European members. South Korea announced its participation in the PSI on May 26, following the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s second nuclear test conducted a day earlier.
Right after the announcement, the DPRK denounced the move as an 'act of war.' The PSI was originally launched by U.S. President George W. Bush […] to combat proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials." (China View; 22Jun09) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/22/content_11581451.htm

Workshop on implementing security council resolution 1540 to be held in Columbo, Sri Lanka, 23-25 June
"A regional workshop on implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 […] will be held on 23-25 June in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The workshop is jointly organized by Sri Lanka and the [U.S.], in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. The objective of the workshop is to promote capacity-building on national and regional levels to advance full implementation of resolution 1540. […] Officials from the Governments [of] Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as representatives of a number of international, regional and sub-regional organizations, have been invited to participate. A representative of the 1540 Committee and its experts will also attend the workshop." (United Nations; 19Jun09) http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2009/dc3183.doc.htm

New detector not much better [at] catching nuke matter
"Federal investigators say the government's next generation radiation detectors are only marginally better at detecting hidden nuclear material than monitors already at U.S. ports. […] The machines are intended to prevent terrorists or criminals from smuggling into the U.S. a nuclear bomb or its explosive components hidden in a cargo container. The monitors now in use can detect the presence of radiation, but they cannot distinguish between threatening and nonthreatening material. […] The Department of Homeland Security has said the new machines it is developing can distinguish between kitty litter and dangerous radioactive material and produce fewer false alarms than the current ones. The new one are also better at detecting lightly shielded material. But the machines perform at about the same level when detecting radiological and nuclear materials hidden in a lead box or casing, the most likely way a terrorist would try to sneak the materials into this country. […] The report raises the question whether the new machines, at about $822,000 each, are worth the cost if they're not that much better than current ones that cost about $308,000. The department believes the benefits outweigh the additional cost. But […] the new machines still are being tested." (Mohave Daily News; 22Jun09; Source: AP) http://www.mohavedailynews.com/articles/2009/06/22/news/business/biz1.txt

Secret safeguards, area firm attempts to market camouflaged gas detector for use at G20 Summit [Castle Shannon, PA]
"Carpenter Connection, a Castle Shannon company that designs and builds booths and displays for trade shows, recently put the finishing touches on a display for Pittsburgh-based [Mine Safety Appliances] MSA to take to the National Defense Industry Association's Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear [CBRN] conference and exhibition in Fort Leonard Wood, M[issouri]. The three-day event that starts Tuesday is the largest annual gathering of CBRN professionals, including incident responders and technology developers. […] Norman Davis, sales and marketing manager for MSA's CBRN detection products, will be showing the company's Safesite Multi-Threat wireless detection unit housed inside the newspaper vending box. The unit can detect and communicate the presence of up to six potential threats, including chemical warfare agents, gamma radiation, volatile organic compounds, toxic industrial chemicals and combustible gas. It is also used in confined spaces to alert workers to oxygen deficiency. [… Davis] said the information that the units provide is critical for first responders, enabling them to quickly alert medical facilities to prepare for intake of injured people. […] Bald and Davis said the goal at the trade show will be to demonstrate how the detectors could be used at the upcoming G20 Summit in Pittsburgh. [… Davis] said MSA's SafeSite detectors were most recently used during the Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup playoff games at Mellon Arena." (Observer-Reporter; 22Jun09; Michael Bradwell) http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Story/06-22-O-R-NEWSPAPER-BOX-SECURITY-CANDIDATE-w-PIX---MON-BIZ

North Korea threatens to harm US if attacked
"North Korea reminded the U.S. on Monday that it has nuclear weapons and warned it will strike back if attacked, as a U.S. destroyer continued to trail a North Korean cargo ship [the Kang Nam] suspected of carrying illicit weapons. […] President Barack Obama said the U.S. is ready to cope with 'any contingencies' amid reports the North appears to be preparing for a long-range missile test planned sometime around July 4. […] The Kang Nam appeared headed to Myanmar via Singapore. […] Myanmar's military government […] reportedly has bought weapons from the North in the past. On Monday, North Korea's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper called it 'nonsense' to say the country is a threat to the U.S. The paper also warned it is prepared to strike back if attacked. 'As long as our country has become a proud nuclear power, the U.S. should take a correct look at whom it is dealing with,' its said in commentary. 'It would be a grave mistake for the U.S. to think it can remain unhurt if it ignites the fuse of war on the Korean peninsula.' North Korea calls its nuclear program a deterrent against the U.S. […] Obama said the U.S. is prepared for any North Korean provocation. […] Sen. [John] McCain said Sunday that the U.S. should board the Kang Nam even without North Korean permission if hard evidence shows it is carrying missiles or other cargo in violation of U.N. resolutions.'I think we should board it. It's going to contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to rogue nations that pose a direct threat to the United States,' he said." (The New Nation; 22Jun09; Source: AP) http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/06/23/news0873.htm

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