War on Terrorism

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 22, 2009

HHS [Health and Human Services] must improve bioshield spending controls
"The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not identified appropriate purchasing risks in Project BioShield, thereby increasing chances that an agency might procure biological countermeasures at an unreasonable price, warned congressional investigators Tuesday. To rectify this situation, HHS should include comprehensive risk assessment statements in all written guidance provided for internal controls to BioShield procurement agents. […] The department has awarded a total of nine contracts under Project BioShield. […] These contracts were awarded to procure countermeasures against biological agents such as anthrax, botulism, smallpox [sic] and others, as well as to counter radiation poisoning. […] HHS has set up some internal controls for spending money from the simplified acquisition threshold and its use with BioShield Special Reserve Funds, the micro-purchase threshold, and the use of personal services contracts - but its identification of risks in these purchases does not go far enough to protect the federal government, the GAO [Government Accountability Office] said. […] HHS has a total of about $3.6 billion available to it remaining in a Special Reserve Fund to spend on Project BioShield." (Homeland Security Today; 22Jul09; Mickey McCarter) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/9469/128/

Pine Bluff chemical agent disposal facility achieves safety milestone - 1,000,000 safe work hours without a recordable injury [AR]
"U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials announced that the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (PBCDF) achieved a safety milestone at 12:01 a.m. on July 15, 2009 when it surpassed 1 million safe work hours without a recordable injury. 'Safety, while destroying the chemical weapons, is our main priority. I am pleased that the work force at the PBCDF demonstrates CMA's commitment to safety in their day-to-day destruction operations as shown by their achieving this nearly unparalleled safety milestone,' stated CMA Director Conrad F. Whyne. […] The safety milestone set at PBCDF is the first time any chemical demilitarization site has ever accomplished 1 million hours without a recordable injury. On June 17, PBCDF also achieved another safety milestone when it reached 2 million hours without an injury requiring days away from work. […] The facility uses state-of-the-art incineration technology to safely destroy the approximately 3,850 tons of chemical agents stockpiled at the Pine Bluff Arsenal." (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 17Jul09)

Continued commitment needed on U.S. chemical disarmament, OPCW chief says
"A leading international nonproliferation official is urging the United States not to retreat from providing sufficient funds to accelerate the complete elimination of the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons. 'We hope that … every (funding commitment) will be completed in good time for the facilities to be completed in good time and be able to destroy the remaining chemical weapons in good time,' said Rogelio Pfirter, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]. The Defense Department's Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program stands to receive about $550 million in fiscal 2010 as it continues construction of demilitarization plants. […] 'The administration fully recognizes the convention and is totally aware. It doesn't need anyone else to remind them,' Pfirter said. 'The commitment is very, very strong toward the convention. I'm sure the United States will continue to look for ways of bringing their own destruction program in line with the convention.' […] Concerns in the intelligence community regarding the threat of terrorists developing and using chemical weapons have not resulted in new international policy initiatives, [chemical-weapon expert Jonathan] Tucker [a senior fellow at the Washington office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies] said. […] The Defense Department […] has acknowledged its inability to eliminate its weapons on time. 'The DOD review has concluded that there are no realistic options available to destroy the complete U.S. stockpile by the CWC deadline of April 2012,' the Pentagon said. […] Washington now has less than three years to persuade other CWC member states that delays in the destruction of its chemical stockpile are the result of factors beyond its control and that it is doing everything it can to meet its treaty obligations."
(Global Security Newswire; 22Jul09; Chris Schneidmiller) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090722_8989.php

Advocacy group calls for leadership shifts at blue grass depot [KY]
"An advocacy group hopes to see senior officials ousted at a U.S. Army chemical weapons storage facility in Kentucky following an improper relocation of equipment used for detecting potentially dangerous leaks of VX nerve agent, Defense Environment Alert reported yesterday. The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility [PEER] represented a former Blue Grass Army Depot employee who alleged he lost his security clearance for calling attention to the practice. One source with the organization accused depot leaders of fostering a culture of retaliation and demonstrating poor technical understanding of chemical weapons stockpile maintenance. The PEER source faulted a recently disclosed Army inspector general report that backs some of former chemical weapons monitor Donald Van Winkle's claims while playing down the safety implications of monitoring practices at the installation. The depot has taken the necessary steps to resolve problems noted in the IG report, said a spokesman for the Army Chemical Materials Agency. […] The environmental group was incorrect in attacking Blue Grass administrators, the spokesman added." (Global Security Newswire; 22Jul09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090722_7514.php

Top news Kurgan region: [Governor] Oleg Bogomolov, CW in Schuchie
"A special commission for local governance efficiency held its first meeting last week. Chemical weapons destruction plant in Schuchie might become a concrete production facility in the future. [… The] destruction plant […] will finish all works by 2012. 5.5 thousand tons of toxic agents (equaling 13.6% of Russia's chemical weapons reserves) will be eliminated. The plan for 2009 is to destruct 1.2 thousand tons of poisonous substances. […] In 2010 a special governmental research program will elaborate ways to convert production at the chemical facility. At the moment there are a number of suggestions put forward by the local authorities. Th[e] administration of Schuchie wants to create brick a production line, concrete production or agricultural machine building factory on the basis of the old CW facility. […] Another option is to extend the existing chemical plant and eliminate a wider variety of toxic industrial waste not only from Kurgan Region, but from the rest of the Urals." (Expert News Agency, UralPolit.Ru; 22Jul09) http://www.uralpolit.ru/urfo/spec/top_regional/id_147417.html

NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] to track munitions in sea [Honolulu, HI]
"Nine ocean current monitoring sensors will be placed off Pokai Bay at two World War II weapons dumpsites Friday as part of the Pentagon's continuing assessment of the potential effects of sea-disposed munitions. Tony Reyer, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], said yesterday that four sensors will be located at the conventional weapons dumpsite a few miles off Waianae known as ordnance reef. Two will be placed in 300 feet of water, and another two at 50 feet. Five others will be anchored with 3,000-pound weights in 8,000 feet of water at a deep-sea chemical weapons munition disposal site 10 miles west of Pokai Bay. A string of sensors will be linked at depths of 40, 492 and 1,476 feet. Kekaula Hudson, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the Army hopes to begin recovering some of the conventional weapons dumped at ordnance reef as early as next summer using underwater robots. […] All of the sensors will be battery operated and will be in place for a year. The sensors will record speed and direction of ocean currents to determine where they would carry munitions materials if they were ever released." (Honolulu Star Bulletin; 22Jul09; Gregg K. Kakesako) http://www.starbulletin.com/news/20090722_NOAA_to_track_munitions_in_sea.html

Chemical weapons in Baltic Sea remain a threat, Lithuania says
"Lithuania on Monday called for continued attention to the danger posed by chemical weapons dumped decades ago in the Baltic Sea, the Baltic News Service reported. 'We would like to highlight that chemical weapons dumped at sea pose a threat to the entire international community,' acting Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas said in a statement. 'Therefore, this issue has to be permanently raised in international organizations and frameworks.' The Baltic Sea was used as a repository for tens of thousands of tons of chemical weapons confiscated from Germany after World War II, according to a 1995 report from a working group of the Helsinki Commission." (Global Security Newswire; 22Jul09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090721_9461.php

India's 'hottest' new weapons powered by chilli
"India's military is getting ready to deploy weapons-grade chillis for counter-insurgency and riot control. The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is harnessing the super-hot bhut jolokia chilli pepper as an alternative to tear gas as a filling for grenades, Asia Times notes. Chili-based weapons […] are gaining popularity in the U.S. The bhut jolokia could take the spicy arms up several notches; it is rated the hottest chili in the world. The active ingredient in chillis is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). […] Capsaicin is nature's own chemical weapon, targeting specific vulnerable nerve cells and generating the feeling of severe burning - without actual damage. […] Researchers have developed a synthetic chemical with the same sort of effects as OC, known as pelargonic acid vanillylamide, or PAVA. […] The big problem with sprays are their limited ranges. […] This type of weaponry is not available to the military; pepper is classified as a chemical weapon. The other problem is that the effects of OC and PAVA are essentially pain." (Wired; 20Jul09; David Hambling) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/07/indias-hottest-new-weapons-powered-by-chilli/

Acting foreign minister [Usackas] of Lithuania visits the OPCW
"The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, briefed Acting Foreign Minister Usackas on the status of the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), including the progress being made towards the elimination of global chemical weapons stockpiles and efforts undertaken by the OPCW in other areas of its mandate. During their discussion, […] Usackas raised the question of sea-dumped chemical weapons in the Baltic Sea. While noting that the issue does not fall within the mandate of the CWC, the Acting Foreign Minister stated that it continues to be of high importance for Lithuania. Director-General Pfirter agreed that the Convention does not address the matter and encouraged Lithuania to continue pursuing a dialogue with other interested countries. […] Usackas expressed his country's firm commitment to the goals of the CWC and assured the Director-General of Lithuania's continuing support for the work of the OPCW. The Director-General commended Lithuania for its implementation of the Convention and for its close cooperation with the OPCW." (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; 21Jul09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/acting-foreign-minister-of-lithuania-visits-the-opcw/

Iraq's ambassador to Netherlands gives Iraq's speech in organization of chemical weapons prohibition
"Mr. Siamand Abdul Samad, Iraq's Ambassador in The Hague and the representative of Iraq to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) gave Iraq's speech in the informal meetings of the 57th session of the Organization's Executive Board meeting, which comes in the context of the review of countries that announced the existence of chemicals on their territories and the need for disposal application according to the Organization's Charter. The countries include America, Russia, Libya, Iraq, Japan and China. Through the speech, the Ambassador thanked the organization and its staff as well as the friendly countries that helped to complete Iraq's membership and focused on the efforts made by the relevant Iraqi institutions, despite the limited capabilities. […] Review of the coordinating process was ongoing with the Organization for the purpose of sending a delegation to Baghdad to meet Iraqi officials at an invitation from the Iraqi side. Ambassador Siamand urged the Organization and all its Member States to provide technical expertise assistance to help Iraq to release these articles as soon as possible." (Republic of Iraq Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 20Jul09)

Darpa [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] searches for next-gen nuke-spotters
"Darpa, the military's way out research arm, wants proposals for radiation detectors with better accuracy than previous models. […] They're hoping for sensors that can spot dangerous substances through dense storage materials. […] Since 9/11, the military's been trying to beef up the detection of nuclear threats, especially at borders and ports. So far, they've had little success producing systems that can accurately differentiate between dangerous and benign radioactive materials. […] The newest machines produce fewer false alarms, but they still can't scan through dense metal containers. And they cost twice as much - about $822,000 apiece. Darpa's latest project is after a new way to detect dangerous radioactivity in the first place. Instead of sensing 'primary radiation signatures' that can be shielded, they're considering 'secondary effects' of radioactive materials, like ultra-violet signals emitted by gamma rays. But Darpa's still open to old-school detection. As long as it can pick up concealed radiation: Alternatively, Radiological/Nuclear (RN) sensitive material constructs (composed of naturally occurring or synthetic components) to enhance signal gain, and that may be interrogated remotely, are also worthy of consideration. They also want the systems to be fast - a readout in under 10 minutes - and operate at ranges over 5km and with mobile and static targets." (Wired; 21Jul09; Katie Drummond) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/07/darpa-wants-next-gen-nuke-spotters/

Evacuation proposal has some skeptical [NJ]
"Despite assurances by representatives of the State Police Office of Emergency Management, not everyone at a public hearing Tuesday night was convinced that a radiological emergency evacuation plan could be safely implemented. State Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] officials and representatives of the State Police discussed the status of the evacuation plan during an annual public hearing that followed a one-hour informal session concerning what would happen if a nuclear [sic] incident occurred at Oyster Creek Generating Station in the Forked River section of Lacey. […] The hearing […] centered less on specifics of the plan and more on procedures that would be undertaken during an emergency. [Jill] Lipoti, [DEP director of environmental safety and health], said that reverse highway lane strategies would be employed in areas such as Long Beach Island during an evacuation. Jerry Renner, a planner for the state Office of Emergency Management, and Nick DePierro of the Bureau of Nuclear Engineering said separate decontamination centers for emergency workers and their equipment, citizens and schoolchildren have been established at various locations within the county as part of the plan. […] Several members of the Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch group were at the meeting and expressed skepticism as to whether the plan would work. [… Edith] Gbur, [the group's president] and resident Jeff Brown said they were pleased that the DEP had recognized recent problems at Oyster Creek, including concerns of tritium leakage and the integrity of the drywell liner that is part of the plant's cooling system. […] 'Terrorism is a serious concern. We are a target between Washington, D.C., and New York. I am convinced this plan will not work,' Brown said." (Asbury Park Press; 21Jul09; Bob

Terrorists have real chance of stealing nukes
"There is a genuine risk Islamist terrorists may get their hands on Pakistan's nuclear weapons or nuclear material for a dirty bomb, according to a British security expert. 'Knowledge that such a transfer has occurred may not become evident until the aftermath of a nuclear 9/11 in Pakistan or elsewhere in the world,' says Dr. Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Unit at the University of Bradford in Britain. 'The challenge to Pakistan's nuclear weapons from Pakistani Taliban groups and from al-Qaeda constitutes a real and present danger,' he writes in an article to be published in the Combating Terrorism Center's magazine Sentinel at the U. S. Military Academy West Point. […] 'The scale of the potential destructiveness of nuclear weapons or 'dirty bombs'; the instability and 'nuclear porosity' of the context in Pakistan; and the vulnerabilities within Pakistan's nuclear safety and security arrangements mean that the risks of terrorist groups gaining access to nuclear materials are real,' Dr. Gregory writes. Pakistan has a robust set of safety and security guidelines to protect its weapons. […] 'Despite these elaborate safeguards, empirical evidence points to a clear set of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Pakistan's nuclear safety and security arrangements,' [Dr. Gregory] warns. One glaring concern is that most of Pakistan's nuclear sites are located in areas of the country that are now threatened by Pakistani Taliban militants. […] Civilian nuclear weapons sites could be subject to terror attacks that deliberately create environmental and radiological hazards or they could be targeted for attacks that aim to seize control of nuclear weapons components or possibly a nuclear weapon." (National Post; 18Jul09; Peter Goodspeed)

ASEAN urges anti-terrorism strategy
"An ASEAN Regional Forum document has called for more concrete cooperation among its member countries in the fight against terrorism and illegal drugs. The document 'ARF Work Plan for Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime,' prepared for the group's meeting in Phuket, Thailand, says there needs to be a 'more focused and coordinated strategy' in dealing the problems which also include maritime security and cyber terrorism, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported. […] The document said work on counter-terrorism in the future 'must be practical, action-oriented and concrete,' Kyodo said. […] It said future priority areas may include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism as well as human trafficking." (United Press International; 22Jul09) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/07/22/ASEAN-urges-anti-terrorism-strategy/UPI-47761248266790/

Secretary Napolitano announces 60-day review of homeland security advisory system
"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the formation of a task force to conduct a 60-day review of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). The mission of the task force is to assess the effectiveness of the system in informing the public about terrorist threats and communicating protective measures within government and throughout the private sector. […] 'I have assembled a task force, made up of Democrats and Republicans, elected officials at the state and local level, security experts, law enforcement officials and other professionals to assess our current threat level system and provide options for any improvements that are needed,' said Secretary Napolitano. […] The review will include broad consideration of HSAS and the system's impact on state, local, tribal, territorial and international law enforcement partners, the private sector and the American people. […] Secretary Napolitano […] recently completed a weeklong trip to Europe and the Middle East where she signed agreements with Spain and Portugal to allow for the exchange of biometric and biographic data to bolster counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts while emphasizing privacy protections. She also visited Ireland, England, Kuwait and Pakistan, where she met with top security officials to increase coordination against transnational terrorism. […] Secretary Napolitano […] announced $1.7 billion in Homeland Security grants to strengthen risk-based preparedness activities across the nation for all disasters and implemented programs and directed funding for infrastructure protection, transportation and air travel security and cybersecurity efforts, among other efforts to protect the nation from threats of terrorism." (Department of Homeland Security Press Release; 14Jul09) http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1247586668272.shtm

Colo[rado] guard unit joins aviation task force
"A special Colorado Army National Guard force will test its ability to respond to national emergencies by taking part in simulated events throughout Colorado as part of the Aviation Task Force. National Guard officials say the 2nd Battalion 135th Aviation Regiment 'Blackjacks' was appointed to be the Aviation Task Force for the continental U.S. They say it's the first Guard unit to be delegated the responsibility, which has been assigned to only active duty U.S. Army units in the past. The Aviation Task Force responds to chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological emergencies or explosions caused by natural disasters, accidents or terrorist attacks." (Army Times; 22Jul09; Source: AP) http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/07/ap_colo_guard_072209/

Aiken, Greenville in top four for police car plant site [SC]
"The Aiken and Greenville-Spartanburg areas are two of four finalists for a proposed $350 million plant to build a high-tech police patrol car from Carbon Motors Corp. The South Carolina cities are vying with Braselton, Ga., about 50 miles northeast from Carbon's Atlanta headquarters, and Connersville, Ind., about 60 miles northwest of Cincinnati. A final decision could come as early as next week, Carbon co-founder Stacy Stephens said Tuesday. The 1,300-employee plant could start production in 2012, he said. […] Carbon said it already has received more than 10,000 advance orders for its patrol car, called the Carbon E7 […]. The cars can be outfitted with a heads-up display, an automatic license plate recognition system, radiation and biological threat detectors and night-vision lighting. The Carbon E7 will be comparable in cost to patrol cars now - from $40,000 to $100,000 depending on accessories, Stephens said." (The State, South Carolina; 22Jul09; Andrew Shain) http://www.thestate.com/local/story/872757.html

Olympic flight ban over terror[ist] attack fears: a flight ban is to be introduced over the olympic stadium to protect it from terrorist attack during the games [London]
"The 'no-fly zone' is designed to protect the games from light aircraft which could be used as missiles by terrorists intent on attacking the event, a senior Home Office official said. Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, who is in charge of the security operation surrounding the games, said the three main terrorist threats would come from car bombs, planted bombs and suicide bombs and that measures to counter each will be in place, such as blast-proof barriers and regular security checks. […] The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), part of MI5, has advised Olympic organisers that the threat level against the games remains at 'severe' - meaning an attack is highly likely - although it was lowered to 'substantial' for the rest of the country on Monday. Mr Allison said there was no specific threat to the games but he added: 'There are always going to be people talking about it.' […] The security operation is costing 600 m[illion] pounds and already includes a dedicated team that polices the Olympic site. […] An Olympic and Paralympic Security Directorate has been set up within the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism that is looking at all the possible threats to the games, analysing terrorist attacks across the world. It is working with the police and Olympics organisers to ensure that as many design features as possible are included in the stadiums to prevent attacks and minimise the effect of conventional as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. […] Those working on the Olympic site will only gain access using biometric hand-recognition technology." (Telegraph UK; 21Jul09; Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/5878871/Olympic-flight-ban-over-terror-attack-fears.html

Terrorist attacks subject of Dundee scientist research [Scotland]
"A method of identifying victims of a dirty bomb attack or nuclear disaster is being developed by scientists in Dundee. Experts at Dundee University are looking at ways of using CT [computed tomography] scans to identify bodies which have been contaminated. The work has been ordered by the Home Office so the UK is prepared should such an incident take place. The Dundee University team have just been boosted by a £7,000 donation from three charitable trusts. Dr Roos Eisma said: 'What the Home Office has decided to try is to scan the remains using a CT scanner, so only a small number of people will go into the disaster area. […] Everybody else stays at a safe distance and instead of looking at the material directly we will receive the images and look at them instead.' George Mathieson of the Aberbrothock Skea Trust said: 'This is such an unusual application which came to the trust. It fired, stirred the imagination of the trustees and without any hesitation decided to give what we felt was a reasonable grant to them.'" (STV Scotland; 21Jul09) http://news.stv.tv/scotland/tayside/110632-terrorist-attacks-subject-of-dundee-scientist-research/

Special presidential representative for the Middle East and deputy foreign minister Alexander Saltanov's visit to the Syrian Arab Republic
"Alexander Saltanov, Russia's Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister, visited Damascus on July 19, as part of a Middle East trip. He met his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem. The two paid special attention to turning the region towards the search for a politico-diplomatic solution to existing problems there, with emphasis on […] relevant UN decisions and the Arab peace initiative. […] Saltanov [was] briefed on Russia's efforts […] of realizing the proposal for a Middle East conference in Moscow. […] An exchange of views took place on other problems of the region, particularly regarding the processes occurring in Iraq and the situation surrounding Iran. Both sides noted the importance of strengthening the regime for the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in particular, through the establishment of a zone free of all kinds of WMD in the Middle East. [Both] sides reiterated the disposition to further develop [Russian-Syrian bilateral relations] comprehensively on a mutually advantageous basis and in the interests of regional security and stability." (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; 19Jul09)

White powder scare No. 2, substance tests negative [FL]
"The city of Sebring was again disrupted by the arrival of suspicious envelopes, and the target this time was the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. Just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, two envelopes containing a suspicious white powder arrived at the sheriff's office in the mail, according to Lisa Burley, the sheriff's chief of staff. Approximately 40 employees were evacuated from the first and second floors a few minutes later as one letter was delivered to each level. […] By 4:20 p.m., the powder was en route to Tampa for testing, according to Burley. […] The threat did not disrupt 911 dispatchers or Highlands County Jail officials and operations continued as usual. [… The] substance […] tested negative for anthrax [bacteria] or any other biochemical. Gloria Rybinski, public information officer for the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, did not have any more specifics Tuesday night about who might have sent the envelopes or if they were addressed to anyone specifically." (Highlands Today; 22Jul09; Brad Dickerson) http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2009/jul/21/sheriffs-office-evacuates-after-suspicious-envelop/

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