War on Terrorism

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 19, 2009

Canada protects deadly bio-lab: Ottawa will spend $30M on facility in central Asia
"Canada plans to spend $30-million to build a high-level bio-security lab in Kyrgyzstan, the centrepiece of efforts to keep terrorists from getting their hands on anthrax [spores], plague [bacteria] and other dangerous [pathogens] stored in the former Soviet republic. […] Lethal pathogens […] are being held there under virtually non-existent security, says the federal official in charge of the project. Meanwhile, the scientists overseeing the stocks of viruses and bacteria often earn less than a dollar a day, leaving them potentially vulnerable to bribery by terror[ist] groups, said Trevor Smith, a Foreign Affairs Department official. The new lab will be used as the central storage and research facility for pathogens […] now found all over the country, said Mr. Smith, manager of the department's biological and chemical non-proliferation program. With terrorist organizations having publicly voiced a desire to build biological weapons, the risk cannot be ignored, he said. […] The federal government will pay for the new centre […] but its operation will be left to the Kyrgyz government, which has embraced the outside help and is anxious to address the problem, he said. […] The project is part of a program launched by G8 nations in 2002. The goal is to better safeguard weapons of mass destruction - and the raw material for them - in the former Soviet Union. Canada has already spent about half the $1-billion it committed, helping to dismantle old Soviet nuclear submarines, 'redirecting' former weapons scientists to more peaceful endeavors and encouraging better legal controls." (National Post; 19Aug09; Tom Blackwell)

The British Parliament wants details on BWC [Biological Weapons Convention] progress
"A senior group of MPs [Members of Parliament] recently called on the British government to refocus its attention on nonproliferation in terms of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as ballistic missile defense, terrorism, and conventional weapons. The call comes in a June House of Commons' report entitled 'Global Security: Nonproliferation,' which examines the government's present policies on each aspect of nonproliferation. […] The MPs' suggest[ed] that the government report on its progress in overseeing scientific research and codes of conduct for scientists at the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). […] Governments are going to have a massive task ahead of them in living up to what they believe is required - from raising awareness globally to implementing appropriate communications strategies. The MPs also made significant points on how to strengthen the BWC at the international level. […] The MPs argued that the government should give priority to strengthening the BWC by proposing an accountability framework, putting forward an action plan for comprehensive implementation, expanding the role and staff of the Implementation Support Unit, holding formal annual meetings, and refining and improving confidence-building measures as a means of strengthening the convention. Additionally, the MPs urged the government to 'outline what measures it intends to pursue further at the [BWC] Seventh Review Conference in 2011.' They specifically took into account the impact of new technologies on the BWC and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) […] and asked the government to set out its proposals for ensuring that the conventions keep up with the pace of change. […] It's clear that the lead group of senior MPs continues to pay close attention to these issues and are intent on holding the government to account for their policies […] since it's the only way for meaningful change to be carried out." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 19Aug09; Malcolm Dando) http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/malcolm-dando/the-british-parliament-wants-details-bwc-progress

Mustard leak found at Blue Grass [Army] Depot [Richmond, KY]
"Workers yesterday discovered a mustard agent vapor leak inside a storage igloo at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, the Richmond Register reported. Personnel began the task of tracking down the leaking weapon, which they would place inside a special container and transfer to a different storage igloo for close monitoring. The leak posed no threat to area residents, said Blue Grass Chemical Activity spokesman Dick Sloan." (Global Security Newswire; 18Aug09)

[Rep. Mike] Coffman [R-CO] touring Pueblo [CO] chemical site
"A chemical depot in Pueblo is getting a visit from Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. Coffman plans to see construction of a plant where dangerous chemical weapons will be destroyed. Coffman says the Wednesday tour of the future Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant will show him how the nation plans to meet treaty obligations to get rid of dangerous chemicals.
The Pueblo Chemical Depot stores some 2,611 tons of mustard agent in projectiles and cartridges. The destruction plant was authorized in 2002, but is not operational yet." (Channel 9 News, CO; 19Aug09)

Judge dismisses environmental suit over Army's plan to incinerate chemical weapon stockpiles
The Army has won an environmental lawsuit over its plan to incinerate chemical weapons at storage sites around the country. A federal judge threw out the suit aimed at stopping the plan to destroy the stockpiles. […] The Army conducted several environmental impact studies and concluded that incineration was the most safe and effective method of destruction. A watchdog organization called the Chemical Weapons Working Group argued that incineration emits toxic pollution and there are new alternative technologies for destruction. But the judge ruled Wednesday the group did not prove its 6-year-old case." (Los Angeles Times; 19Aug09; Nedra Pickler, AP) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/politics/wire/sns-ap-us-chemical-weapons,0,2335611.story

India continues examining North Korean ship
"Indian authorities plan to continue checking a North Korean cargo ship for any signs that it had carried WMD material, the Press Trust of India [PTI] reported today. The freighter MV Mu San was detained after its crew moored in Indian waters without permission and then tried to flee the Coast Guard. Suspicions arose that the vessel might have been heading to or coming from Myanmar, which has been suspected of developing a nuclear program with aid from North Korea. […] The coast guard is escorting the ship to the port at Kakinada, where it will be searched by nuclear scientists and security personnel. They will be looking for any signs of biological, chemical, nuclear or radioactive materials, PTI reported. A North Korean official and the 38 other members of the ship's crew are expected to be questioned." (Global Security Newswire; 19Aug09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090819_5841.php

Governors oppose the Pentagon['s CBRNE response plan]
"The leadership of the National Governors Association is opposing a new Defense Department proposal to handle natural and terrorism-related disasters, contending that a murky chain of command could lead to more problems than solutions. Chairman of the association Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), and Vice Chairman Gov. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia recently wrote a letter opposing the Pentagon proposal. […] The letter is in response to a Pentagon proposed legislative fix that would give the Secretary of Defense the authority to assist in response to domestic disasters and, consequently, have control over units stationed in an affected state. In other words, take the responsibility away from the governors. The governors stated: 'We are concerned that the legislative proposal you discuss in your letter would invite confusion on critical command and control issues, complicate interagency planning, […] and interfere with governors' constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of their citizens.' […] This comes at the same time that the Defense Department is eying the formation of new military units designed to rapidly respond to catastrophic terrorist attacks on domestic soil, a move that could establish 10 Homeland Response Forces. The 10 new Homeland Response Forces would be formed in part by reducing the size of the units that are presently designed to play a key role in dealing with consequences of a large-scale attack involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosives (CBRNE). The current CBRNE force is a 4,700-person task force comprised of active and reserve personnel from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force that can be tailored to respond to any incident involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosives." (San Francisco Examiner; 18Aug09; Bruce Clarke) http://www.examiner.com/x-17537-Defense-Dept-Examiner~y2009m8d18-Governors-oppose-the-Pentagon

TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority], other agencies to conduct nuclear exercise
"TVA and other federal, state and local agencies will conduct a regularly scheduled emergency preparedness exercise for Sequoyah Nuclear Plant on Wednesday. The exercise will involve TVA and state of Tennessee employees and emergency responders in Hamilton and Bradley counties. Residents of these counties may see radiological monitoring teams or other responders in action as part of the exercise and may hear on-site and off-site sirens. The emergency exercise is part of a long-term drill and exercise program. Utilities operating nuclear power plants are required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct emergency exercises regularly. […] TVA provides power to large industries and 158 power distributors that serve approximately nine million consumers in seven southeastern states." (The Chattanoogan; 18Aug09)

Business executive [Henry Schwartz] warns of EMP [electromagnetic pulse caused by nuclear device] threat
"An electromagnetic pulse [EMP], created by the explosion of a nuclear device high in the atmosphere, in a moment could knock out cellular telephones, air traffic controls and all other manner of electronics within a 1,000-mile radius. The pulse 'acts like a stroke of lightning but is stronger, faster and shorter,' according to the Homeland Security Department. 'I've never lived in fear in my life,' said Henry Schwartz, chairman of Steuben Foods and Elmhurst Dairy, who worked with nuclear devices in the military. 'But I have to tell you, I'm in fear now.' The U.S. Defense Department for years has acknowledged the threat of an electromagnetic attack, AP reported. A congressional commission stated in a new report that 'our vulnerability is increasing daily as our use of and dependence on electronics continues to grow.' The group said the United States has not done enough to protect itself from such an attack, but that steps could be taken to 'harden' the nation's electrical systems. 'It's not that expensive to protect our grid,' […] Schwartz said. Schwartz is organizing a conference next month in upstate New York to address the EMP threat. He hopes to persuade scientists, politicians and others to attend.
A number of lawmakers have already signed up, including Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), and former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R). Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is slated to appear at the conference via video." (Global Security Newswire; 18Aug09) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090817_6536.php

Vienna [Austria] 14-18 Sep 2009 53rd IAEA general conference tackles complex agenda
"Polarization in the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] is likely to slow movement on serious issues when member states meet for the 53rd IAEA General Conference. The industrialized 'nuclear have' nations and developing 'nuclear have nots' have markedly different agendas. The two blocs will have to come together to confirm the appointment of a successor for IAEA Director-General Mohamed El Baradei. […] The problems include nuclear safety and non-proliferation, and Iran's and North Korea's nuclear status. […] The growth in [nuclear power] interest exacerbates a host of issues, which include: nuclear proliferation, nuclear plants, nuclear terrorism, […] the monitoring of countries, such as Iran and North Korea, which have nuclear facilities that could be used to produce weapons. […] He noted that 'years of zero growth budgets have left us with a failing infrastructure and a troubling dependence on voluntary support. […] no less than 90 percent of our nuclear security programme, which is aimed in part at stopping terrorists from obtaining nuclear material, depends on voluntary funding." (News Ahead; 19Aug09) http://www.newsahead.com/preview/2009/09/14/vienna-14-18-sep-2009-53rd-iaea-general-conference-tackles-complex-agenda/index.php

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