War on Terrorism

Monday, August 10, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 10, 2009

Security problems persist at U.S. biolabs, report finds
"The United States should move faster to implement security recommendations at laboratories handling the most lethal pathogens, congressional investigators said in a report released today. The Government Accountability Office faulted the 'limited action' of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish a consistent security strategy for the nation's five Biosafety Level 4 laboratories, which handle incurable disease agents such as Ebola, the Associated Press reported after obtaining a copy of the document before its release. 'Although CDC has taken some modest steps for studying how to improve perimeter security controls for all BSL-4 labs, CDC has not established a detailed plan to implement our recommendation,' the report states. A CDC panel is expected to review security vulnerabilities at the sites. […] Without naming specific laboratories, this week's report says that two sites have taken steps to address previously noted security problems. The Atlanta facility has implemented 'a significant number' of GAO recommendations to bolster security while the San Antonio sites has made only 'a few changes,' the report states. The other three BSL-4 sites had notably better security measures, according to AP. […] [Senator Susan] Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) are expected to introduce a bill in September that would heighten security requirements at the sensitive germ facilities." (Global Security Newswire; 06Aug09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090806_6341.php

Chemical companies, US authorities knew dangers of Agent Orange
"US chemical companies that made Agent Orange and the government and military authorities who ordered its spraying on Vietnam knew the human health toll it could take, according to official and unofficial documents detailing the history of the deadly defoliant. A review of the documents related to the use of Agent Orange […] in Vietnam […] provides compelling evidence that those in charge also concealed evidence of the devastating effects it could have on people. A declassified letter by V.K. Rowe at Dow's Biochemical Research Library to Bioproducts Manager Ross Milholland dated June 24, 1965 clearly states that the company knew the dioxin in their products, including Agent Orange, could hurt people. In reference to […] components of Agent Orange, Rowe stated: 'This material is exceptionally toxic; it has a tremendous potential for producing chloracne and systemic injury.' Rowe worried the company would suffer if word got out. 'The whole […] industry would be hard hit and I would expect restrictive legislation, either barring the material or putting very rigid controls upon it.' So he said the company should keep quiet about the toxicity: 'There is no reason why we cannot get this problem under strict control and thereby hopefully avoid restrictive legislation […] Under no circumstances may this letter be reproduced, shown, or sent to anyone outside of Dow.'" (Thanh Nien Daily; 10Aug09; Jon Dillingham)

Chemical incineration operation gets safety award [Stockton, UT]
"The U.S. Army operation that incinerates chemical weapons near Stockton is being recognized by federal safety officials. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] gave the operation and its subcontractors a 'voluntary protection program' award after an audit earlier this year by OSHA and private safety professionals. The award noted that the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility has an exemplary health and safety program that goes beyond OSHA requirements. More than 1,000 people are employed at the facility, where the Army's largest stockpile of aging chemical weapons is being destroyed as part of an international treaty." (KSL 5 News; 10Aug09)

Russia on pace to meet chemical disarmament deadline, general [Nikolai Abroskin] says
"Russia has reported destroying 37 percent of its arsenal of chemical warfare agents, Interfax reported last week. The government said Friday it is on schedule to destroy the entire stockpile by 2012, as promised. 'We will meet all deadlines,' said Gen. Nikolai Abroskin, head of the Russian Federal Special Purpose Construction Agency. 'There will be no delays in the implementation of the international convention. Today, the state authorities regard the federal program Destruction of Chemical Weapons Stockpiles in the Russian Federation as one of the most successful programs in the country.' […] Observers have expressed skepticism of Moscow's repeated affirmations of its ability to keep to that schedule. Russia has already disposed of 15,000 metric tons of its 40,000-metric-ton arsenal of banned materials, according to government reports." (Global Security Newswire; 10Aug09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090810_1959.php

Turkish scientists develop material neutralizing impact of chemical weapons
"The leading scientific research institution of Turkey has developed a material that neutralizes the effects of chemical weapons. The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) has developed a material that can absorb liquid chemicals and eliminate the dangerous effects of such chemicals by destroying their structures. The material named 'T 1,' which comprises of numerous micro channels and silicate-based ceramic components, absorbs the liquid chemicals that are found on the skin, weapons, clothes, equipment and vehicles or in the fields and buildings. Tar?k Baykara from TUBITAK's Marmara Research Center (MAM) said that 'mass destruction weapons' which had chemical, biological, reactive and nuclear types, were toxic agents that had the potential to kill, heavily injure and destroy the functions of living creatures. […] Pointing to the decontamination process aiming to isolate those who have been or are in danger of being affected by such weapons, Baykara said decontamination could only be achieved if 'the physical agent was taken away' or 'it was neutralized by destroying its structure.' Baykara said TUBITAK developed materials that would absorb or neutralize chemicals in case of a chemical weapon attack, adding that the 'T 1' material would be an effective measure against such threat." (Anatolia News Agency; 10Aug09) http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-183558-101-turkish-scientists-develop-material-neutralizing-impact-of-chemical-weapons.html

AG [Attorney General Menachem Mazuz] rejects [Nahum] Manbar's request for parole
"Attorney General Menachem Mazuz recently rejected a request by Nahum Manbar for an early release from prison. Manbar was convicted in 1997 of selling equipment and know-how to Iran for the manufacture of chemical weapons. […] A spokesman for Mazuz told Haaretz that in view of the serious security offenses of which Manbar was convicted, and particularly their connection to Iran, given the threat that Tehran currently poses to Israel, an early release of the prisoner would undermine both the public's confidence in the legal establishment and the state's deterrent capacity against others who might consider harming national security. […] Manbar, a businessman, was convicted of aiding an enemy state, attempting to aid an enemy state and passing knowledge to an enemy state with the intention of harming national security. One of the main charges against him was that he gave Iran know-how, including a list of the necessary equipment, that would help it set up factories for the production of two chemical warfare agents, mustard gas and nerve gas. He received millions of dollars in exchange. […] Mazuz wrote that there is no reason for the state to alter its stance on his case and support his parole. He based his decision on the Tel Aviv District Court's ruling, which rejected Manbar's request for parole on the grounds that the nature and gravity of his crimes made it impossible to grant him an early release. […] The Parole Board's decision was based in part on the assessment that Manbar continues to constitute a threat to national security." (Haaretz; 10Aug09; Tomer Zarchin) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1106385.html

Iran urges prompt implementation of CWC
"A senior Iranian official on Saturday called on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) member states to push all other countries, specially the U.S., to implement the convention promptly. 'The member states are tasked with a serious pursuit of the (convention's) goal to eliminate the existing chemical weapons,' Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said. 'They (member states) should persistently ask possessors of such weapons, specially the U.S., to mobilize and employ all their capabilities to implement the international undertaking (CWC) in due time,' Hosseini reiterated. The Iranian official also expressed regret over the present trend of the destruction of chemical weapons, and blasted U.S. reluctance to fulfill its undertakings regarding the convention. […] He called on the international community to pay special attention to the threats against regional and international peace and security posed by the regime's non- commitment to international rules and obligations. Elsewhere, the official underlined that Iran's cooperative attitude towards the issue shows its good intention regarding dismantlement and destruction of all WMDs, chemical weapons in particular." (Tehran Times Daily; 09Aug09)

National Guard drill planned for UNH [University of New Hampshire] campus [Durham, NH]
"National Guardsmen from New Hampshire and Maine will be conducting emergency response training exercises at the University of New Hampshire this week. The drill will be held Friday in two UNH buildings - the Memorial Union Building and Hubbard Hall. As a result, the Memorial Union Building will be closed and parking will be limited. The training involves the New Hampshire National Guard's 12th Civil Support Team, which was created in 2004 to support local authorities during a domestic chemical, biological or radiological emergency." (Fox 44 News; 10Aug09; Source: AP)

U.S. broadening counterproliferation focus, official [head of the U.S. National Counterproliferation Center Kenneth Brill] says
"The U.S. intelligence community is increasing its focus on spotting 'over-the-horizon' WMD threats and assessing the internal workings of potential proliferators, the head of the U.S. National Counterproliferation Center said last week. […] Kenneth Brill said in prepared remarks to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 'We now live in what is close to an open market, where many states have the scientific and technological capabilities required to produce (weapons of mass destruction) and where … non-state actors can distribute and acquire a wide range of capabilities once reserved for states. […] The knowledge is out there. The drive - seen most clearly in states like North Korea and terrorist groups like al-Qaeda - is out there, and the materials can be found,' [Brill added]. […] U.S. intelligence agencies are broadening their analytical scope to help address emerging proliferation threats, Brill said. 'While nuclear physicists and bioweapons specialists are necessary to have focused on WMD, they cannot be the only people looking at the problem,' he said. 'Countering WMD proliferation requires the knowledge of state behavior that comes from those charged with understanding regional, economic, politico-military and state leadership and elites. They are the people best suited to help identify state leadership motivations and intentions and then develop comprehensive approaches to countering interest in developing a WMD program.' Counterproliferation and counterterrorism groups within the government are striving to increase their coordination to help defeat WMD threats, Brill added. […] 'If our capabilities are focused solely on Iran and North Korea and al-Qaeda, we will have done our policy-makers a huge disservice when an 'over-the-horizon' nation goes nuclear or a new terrorist group starts putting the pieces together for a biological weapon.'" (Global Security Newswire; 10Aug09) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090810_1963.php

WMD attack likely, says new Blue Ribbon Panel report [summary of FBI report received by the National Association of Chiefs of Police]
"Terrorists are likely to use a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world in the next five years, a congressional blue-ribbon panel reported just prior to inauguration day. […] The Federal Bureau of Investigation forecasts that sub-national and non-governmental entities will play an increasing role in world affairs for years to come, presenting new 'asymmetric' threats to the United States, according to a report submitted to the National Association of Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement and security organizations. […] Most experts believe that technological innovation will have the most profound impact on the collective ability of the federal, state, and local governments to protect the United States. […] These advances allow terrorists, disaffected states, weapons proliferators, criminal enterprises, drug traffickers, and other threat enterprises easier and cheaper access to weapons technology. […] The global Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat to the United States and its interests is expected to increase significantly. […] The threat from countries which consider the United States their primary intelligence target, adversary or threat either will continue at present levels or likely increase. The most desirable US targets will be political and military plans and intentions; technology; and economic institutions, both governmental and non-governmental. Foreign intelligence services increasingly will target and recruit US travelers abroad and will use nonofficial collection platforms, including increasing numbers of students, visitors, delegations, and emigres within the United States." (Examiner; 09Aug09; Jim Kouri)

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