War on Terrorism

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 1, 2009

Biological weapons pose realistic threat, say former senators [Bob Graham and Jim Talent]
"Weapons of mass destruction may not be a phrase the public hears as frequently anymore, but they are still a major issue according to former Senators Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.). The politicians participated in a discussion Monday at the Heritage Foundation where they reported that the U.S. is uneasily vulnerable to a biological terrorist attack. 'It is more likely that that weapon of mass destruction will be a biological weapon rather than a nuclear weapon. I mentioned that there has been an explosion in the biological area of capabilities…The thing that has kept us from a biological weapon thus far has been the unreliable defense of ignorance,' said Graham. The findings come from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. […] Talent added that […] terrorists will recruit life scientists to utilize bio weapons. However, he added that a biological attack is easier to prepare for than a nuclear attack. Graham and Talent believe Vice President Joe Biden should be put in charge of combating the use of WMD and assuring that all precautions are made." (Talk Radio News Service; 29Jun09; Courtney Ann Jackson) http://talkradionews.com/2009/06/biological-weapons-pose-realistic-threat-say-former-senators/

Pennsylvania department of health workshops will help businesses prepare for flu pandemic [Harrisburg, PA]
"The Department of Health will hold a series of pandemic planning workshops in July to help ensure businesses are ready for the current influenza pandemic and the possible resurgence of the 2009 Novel Influenza A/H1N1 virus this fall. 'The workshops will provide Pennsylvania's business and industry leaders with valuable tools they can use to keep their employees healthy and their businesses open during influenza pandemics.' [said WHO Secretary Everette James]. The workshops are designed for those involved in pandemic and continuity of operations planning. […] Panel and interactive table discussions will allow participants to share best practices and pandemic planning ideas. […] The workshops, which are being funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are coordinated by the Office of Public Health Preparedness, which supports the Department of Health's efforts to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from all acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies." (Fox Business; 30Jun09) http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/pennsylvania-department-health-workshops-help-businesses-prepare-flu-pandemic/

Pentagon: stop biothreats before they spread
"The Pentagon is looking to turbocharge the response to pathogens, stopping the bugs before they even start. Darpa [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] is soliciting proposals for a four-step program to stop bio-threats before they spread. […] Infectious microorganisms are on the rise, and it's not just terrorist threats we should be wary of. […] Darpa's worried about bio-sabotage [and] the potential loss of closely-guarded pathogens. […] Darpa wants 'biomedical intervention' that can immediately immunize at-risk personnel or quickly kill the virus. If it's too late for that, phase two - 'sustaining survival' - would interfere with viral pathways or use 'pathogen competitive microorganisms' to keep an infected person alive. Phase three is […] if someone's already infected, Darpa wants to take advantage of their antibodies, transplanting them into the uninfected population to promote immunity and minimize the risk of widespread outbreak. […] The goal is to speed up long-term resistance to new and unknown pathogens. […] The advances would likely transform global response to the next H1N1. […] For now, the Pentagon's mostly watching their own back. No group is at greater risk of exposure to new international pathogens, to bio-sabotage of food supply lines, or of attack from biological threat agents, then the U. S. Military." (Wired; 29Jun09; Katie Drummond) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/06/pentagon-stop-biothreats-before-they-spread/

2 hurt, but no chemicals released, in Pueblo depot rail accident [CO]
"The U.S. Army said two people are hurt but no dangerous chemicals released in an accident at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. The accident happened Tuesday when a delivery truck hit an empty railroad car. […] The driver, an unnamed male, was taken by helicopter to a local hospital. His condition was not released. [Army spokesman Kenneth] Roque said a brakeman on the train got minor injuries trying to help the delivery driver. […] The Depot stores some chemical weapons, including mustard agent. But Roque said no chemicals were released in the accident." (Fox 31 KDVR; 30Jun09; Source: AP)

Chemical security efforts spread
"The EU and the US are simultaneously taking action in a bid to secure chemical facilities and prevent their misuse by terrorists. The chemical industries in both regions are backing the two parallel efforts, but they are also cautioning against overly prescriptive regulations. The European Commission approved a new policy to enhance chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security on 24 June. The package proposes a broad approach to CBRN security, focusing on preventing unauthorised access to materials of concern, enhancing detection capabilities, and improving preparedness and response capabilities. […] It remains unclear which aspects of the proposal will be adopted, but up to 100 million euros (86 million pounds) will be allocated from existing financial programmes to support the implementation process, due to take place between 2010 and 2013. […] Chemical industry representatives say voluntary codes are likely to be more manageable than mandatory requirements. […] There is concern that any new policies implemented could be onerous for the chemical industry. 'As a globally active industry, it is important that security-related trade and production controls on chemicals is administratively manageable, continues to facilitate legitimate trade, is not overly burdensome in terms of costs and manpower, safeguards confidential business information and respects the principle of a level playing field by being evenly applied across all chemical producing regions,' [said RenĂ© van Sloten, a senior official with the European Chemical Industry Council]." (Royal Society of Chemistry, London; 01Jul09) http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/July/01070901.asp

High court confirms Iraq chemicals sentence [for Frans van Anraat]
"The high court on Tuesday upheld the jail sentence imposed on [Dutch] businessman Frans van Anraat for his involvement in supplying chemicals to make mustard gas in Iraq. The court found Van Anraat guilty of supplying large quantities of chemicals to Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s which were then used to make chemical weapons. He was found not guilty of genocide. Van Anraat was originally sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2005. That sentence was increased to 17 years on appeal and has now been cut to
16.5 years. […] But the court refused to award damages to 16 claimants, saying it was too complicated, news agency AP reported." (Dutch News; 30Jun09)

Department of Defense releases further funding to Cleveland biolabs under $8.8 million contract for development studies on protectan CBLB502 [mitigates radiation sickness]
"Cleveland BioLabs […] today announced that the Chemical Biological Medical Systems Medical Identification and Treatment Systems Joint Product Management Office (CBMS-MITS JPMO) of the Department of Defense (DoD) has exercised the contract option and released a second phase of funding under a contract calling for developmental studies valued at up to $8.8 million. […] Cleveland BioLabs recently announced that data from more than 50 subjects in an initial Phase I safety and tolerability study indicated that [radioprotective drug] CBLB502 was well tolerated and that normalized biomarker results corresponded to previously demonstrated activity in animal models of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). A pattern of biomarker production was observed in humans consistent with those patterns seen in animals during mitigation of radiation-induced injury by dosing with CBLB502. This study will be followed by a second, larger safety study in healthy human volunteers, building on the results of the initial study.
These studies are being conducted under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Animal Efficacy Rule to treat ARS from any exposure to radiation such as a nuclear or radiological weapon/dirty bomb, or from a nuclear accident." (CNN Money; 01Jul09) http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/marketwire/0515534.htm

Ctrl Asians agree to secure radioactive waste [Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan]
"The four Central Asian nations agreed Monday to secure 800 million tons of radioactive and toxic uranium waste sludge that could be used to make a 'dirty' radiological bomb, a U.N. agency said. 'It has been explained to us that the kind of material that exists can be used for dirty bombs. That's the kind of risk that exists today,' Jans Wandel, deputy regional director of the U.N. Development Program, told journalists. Waste from uranium mines exploited during the Soviet era is held in the open behind fragile dams. The waste threatens water supplies for millions of people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. […] The four central Asian countries and several international and regional agencies agreed on a joint declaration to cooperate in tackling the problem during a meeting in Geneva. […] Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov warned that without securing storage as a first step, the health and environmental consequences would 'be as dangerous as the use of any weapons.' He told journalists that international control or monitoring of storage would also act as 'a guarantee.'" (Wall Street Journal; 30Jun09) http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090630-705303.html

Global Insights: Cuba joins nuclear terrorism convention
"Cuba became the 54th national government to accede to the U.N.'s Nuclear Terrorism Convention on June 17, in a move meant to burnish the island nation's counterterrorist credentials. […] In depositing Havana's instrument of accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism […] the Cuban mission to the U.N. issued a statement affirming the Cuban government's 'irrevocable commitment to the fight against terrorism under in all its forms and manifestations.' The Cuban government also exploited the occasion to contest the legality of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, where hundreds of suspected terrorists have been detained since 9/11. The statement said that Cuban authorities could not enforce the convention on the base since it is located in Cuban territory 'illegally occupied by the United States,' over which the Cuban state 'does not exercise its rightful jurisdiction.' […] As a result, [the Cuban government] could not verify whether the U.S. 'has installed, possesses, keeps or has the intention to install nuclear materials, or even, nuclear weapons' in that part of the island.[…] The convention criminalizes acts involving the threatened or actual terrorist use of nuclear and radioactive materials by non-state actors. […] The [UN] has adopted twelve other multilateral legal agreements that, like the convention, seek to fight terrorism." (World Politics Review; 30Jun09; Richard Weitz)

RDECOM [Research, Development and Engineering Command] seeks requests for proposals on $485m contract vehicle for CBRNE defense community [MD]
"The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Contracting Center (RDECOM CC) issued requests for proposals Wednesday, June 24, for a $485 million contract vehicle that will streamline the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive (CBRNE) defense development cycle. The new contract vehicle will be used to support the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's (ECBC) research, development, acquisition, analysis, experimentation, product engineering and integration, testing, safety, surety, security, health and environmental requirements. […] 'This new contract mechanism will give RDECOM, ECBC and client organizations the flexibility to acquire a very broad range of contract support from basic laboratory research through CBRNE defense systems design acquisition, engineering, development and testing,' said Charles Comaty of the RDECOM CC. […] The new vehicle is designed to replace two existing contract vehicles and has the potential to replace others in the CBRNE community. 'Right now there is an artificial break in the development cycle of CBRNE defense technologies that occurs when they transition from the research portion of the development cycle to the engineering portion. That break occurs because there are two sets on contracts,' Comaty said." (Wall Street Journal Market Watch; 30Jun09; Source: Edgewood Chemical Biological Center)

7th CST [Civil Support Team] supports Vigilant Guard [Camp Dodge, IA]
"The 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team garnered valuable training June 18 and 19 in support of Vigilant Guard. The Fort Leonard Wood-based Missouri National Guard unit was one of three civil support teams to train at the event, along with a plethora of local first responders, the Iowa Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package and several other government agencies. […] 'It was a valuable exercise to test how neighboring civil support teams would integrate into another state,' said Lt. Col. Raymond White, the team commander. 'The purpose of the exercise for civil support teams was to test the state headquarters and deploy a team to another state to support them.' […] This team's mission is to assess suspected or known terrorist threats, advise civilian authorities of appropriate responses, and assist local emergency responders in incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. The 22-person team, made up of both Army and Air National Guardsmen, must be capable of sending out an advance team within 90 minutes at all times to investigate potential hazards, including mass sickness, mysterious powders and unidentified contaminations." (Daily Guide, MO; 01Jul09; Matthew J. Wilson) http://www.waynesvilledailyguide.com/news/x135735234/7th-CST-supports-Vigilant-Guard

L.A. county gets $23m in security funding [CA]
"The county Tuesday received $23.3 million in federal grants to enhance its ability to respond to terrorism and natural disasters. The funds, distributed through the California Emergency Management Agency, are meant to help the county respond to incidents of terrorism, particularly those involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, and also natural disasters. Of the total, $16.7 million will be retained by the county for use by its own departments and $6.6 million will be distributed to city governments within the county." (Press Telegram, Long Beach; 01Jul09)

Canada puts up cash to prevent nukes' proliferation
"Canada announced Friday it would put up 180 million dollars (156 million US) to help prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear weapons, expanding a Russian nukes decommissioning program. […] 'Projects under the Global Partnership Program will significantly reduce the threat that terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction poses to Canadians and to the entire international community," [Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon] said. The funding announcement came on the sidelines of a G8 foreign ministers meeting in Trieste, Italy. […] The funds, to be spent largely on securing nuclear and biological materials in Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, bring Canada's total pledge to the program to one billion dollars (868 million US) since 1999. Specifically, it will be spent on upgrading seven nuclear facilities in Russia; designing a central repository for dangerous pathogens in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; redirecting 828 former weapons scientists to work on some 90 research projects; and dismantling five decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines in the Arctic and Far East." (Agence France Press; 29Jun09)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] announces removal of last highly enriched uranium from Romania; air shipment of Russian-origin spent fuel
"The National Nuclear Security Administration [NSSA] today announced the final shipments of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) nuclear fuel from Romania. The material was removed and returned to Russia by air for storage at two secure nuclear facilities, making Romania the first country to remove all HEU since President Obama outlined his commitment to securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. […] The shipments are part of NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which also removed all U.S.-origin HEU from Romania in 2008. NNSA worked in close cooperation with Romania, Russia, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to return the material. […] With the completion of these shipments, Romania is the 14th country to have all of its HEU removed." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 30Jun09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2408.htm

Update: suspicious substance sent to Judge Tim Hinkfuss identified as calcium sulfate [WI]
"A letter containing a suspicious white powder that led to evacuation of the third floor of the Brown County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon was determined to be calcium sulfate, a mineral used in drywall. The letter was addressed to Circuit Court Judge Tim Hinkfuss from an inmate of the state prison system, according to Brown County Sheriff's Department Capt. David Konrath. 'There were threats made in the letter to the judge and the white powder was in that same letter,' Konrath said. Hinkfuss, his judicial assistant and another person who also came in contact with the powder were quarantined and underwent decontamination procedures Tuesday afternoon. […] They were cleared about 2:25 p.m. […] The envelope is being investigated, but was not flagged for containing hazardous materials, Konrath said. The letter reportedly went through postal biohazard screening that would have alerted officials to a hazardous substance. Konrath said the incident will be investigated as a criminal threat." (Greenbay Press Gazette; 30Jun09; Mike Hoeft) http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20090630/GPG0101/90630103/1207/GPG01/Update--Police-say-suspicious-powder-sent-to-Judge-Tim-Hinkfuss-by-inmate

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