War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, November 25, 2009

Vaccine making out of date
"Florida Democrat [former Senator Bob Graham] and Missouri Republican [former Senator Jim Talent], who presided over a congressional panel charged with assessing terrorist threats and weapons proliferation, say that even though bioterrorism [...] is the nation's leading terrorist threat, the country isn't equipped to respond quickly. 'This is an epidemic that didn't just attack us by ambush, we've had much time to prepare, yet many people who want to get the vaccine have been denied so because of inadequate technology,' Mr. Graham said, referring to the growth and spread of the H1N1 virus since April. The rush to manufacture millions of doses of the H1N1 influenza virus highlighted problems with a vaccine-manufacturing process developed before the Cold War that has never been updated. [...] Pharmaceutical manufacturers have not had the financial incentive to spend the billions of dollars necessary to upgrade the manufacturing process (a vaccine is sold and administered far less frequently than other, more profitable medications) which is why the government needs to support any effort, he said. 'The real endgame is to bring the technology into the 21st century and use molecular biological techniques so you can really have control about making the purified proteins that you want,' he explained. The federal government has established efforts to address the problem but has yet to funnel the money needed into the lead program." (Washington Times; 24Nov09; Tom LoBianco) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/24/vaccine-making-outdated/

Safety breach at IU [Indiana University] sends 7 to hospital as precaution [Bloomington, IN]
"An Indiana University laboratory that does research on deadly bubonic plague bacterium sent seven people to Bloomington Hospital after a small amount of potentially infected material was discovered in a place where it shouldn't have been in the lab. The seven were sent to the emergency room Wednesday to begin antibiotic treatment as a precautionary measure, university spokesman Larry MacIntyre said Friday afternoon. [...] 'We think it's highly unlikely that anybody could be infected with anything, but since it's not a 100 percent certainty, we're not going to take a chance,' MacIntyre said." (Apria Healthcare; 21Nov09; Mike Leonard) http://www.apria.com/resources/1,2725,494-1033107,00.html

Grant goes to Purdue University to fund research into life cycle of potential bio-weapon viruses [West Lafayette, IN]
"The life cycles of two virus types that could be used as biological weapons will be researched with funding from a National Institutes of Health agency with the hope of creating better treatments against them. Purdue University has been awarded a two-year, $4 million grant from the 2009 federal stimulus bill by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study flaviviruses, including dengue and West Nile, and alphaviruses, including eastern equine encephalitis and chikungunya. [...] There is [...] fear that the diseases could be used as weapons by terrorists as there are few methods for controlling their infection. A better understanding of the life cycle of the viruses, a Purdue spokesperson said, will allow for better ways to defend against attacks." (Bio Prep Watch; 19Nov09; Nick Rees) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/210992-grant-goes-to-purdue-university-to-fund-research-into-life-cycle-of-potential-bioweapon-viruses

Living Weapons [a book by Gregory Koblentz] tackles biowarfare
"Biological weapons are poorly understood by most. Political scientist and author Gregory Koblentz attempts to rectify this reality in his book Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security. Koblentz explores the scientific basis of biological weapons and examines why they are so difficult to properly manage. His work uses scientific expertise to illuminate why bioweapons are so uniquely threatening to international security." (John Hopkins Newsletter; 19Nov09; Greg Sgammato) http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2009/11/19/ScienceTech/Living.Weapons.Tackles.Biowarfare-3838872-page2.shtml

Officials list reuses for Oregon weapons depot [Hermiston, OR]
"A top five list has been drawn up for ways to redevelop the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot near Hermiston, Ore., after its scheduled closure in 2011. According to a recent exercise completed by the depot Land Reuse Authority, the top five most likely uses are: energy development; telecommunications business; transportation or distribution center; attracting government funding; and environmental restoration." ( Seattle Journal Daily of Commerce; 20Nov09) http://www.djc.com/news/co/12012289.html?cgi=yes

Colorado State Professor [Anthony Tu] honored by Japan for help solving '90s sarin gas attacks
"Anthony Tu's expertise about a deadly nerve gas helped the Japanese identify and catch suspects in the sarin gas attacks in the 1990s – assistance that has now earned him one of the nation's highest honors. On Nov. 9, the Japanese Emperor bestowed the Colorado State University emeritus professor with the distinction of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. [...] Tu, a biochemistry professor whose research focused on snake venom, published papers in Japan on chemical warfare just before the Matsumoto attack in 1994 that killed seven people and poisoned 500 others. Police asked Tu for help with the case and the ensuing nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 12 and injured about 3,800 more. Japanese officials used Tu's assistance to analyze the sarin and its byproducts to identify the manufacturing facility where the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo produced 70 tons of the deadly nerve gas. Tu's knowledge of chemicals produced from the degradation of sarin in soils was instrumental in linking Aum Shinrikyo definitively with the manufacture and use of sarin, evidence that helped convict the sect's leader, Shoko Asahara, who was later sentenced to be hanged." (Colorado State University; 23Nov09)

Pig proxies root out solutions for soldiers
"As research animals standing in for real soldiers over the last decade, they have helped prepare Canadian troops for the potential nightmare of chemical warfare. [...] The Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) facility in Suffield, Alta., will fit the pigs with an array of medical monitors to track their physiological reaction to the type of wounds sustained by troops in Afghanistan and similar conflicts. [...] What makes the hog such an attractive surrogate for humans, when the nature of the research would clearly preclude using actual people? They are relatively large, while their cardiac and lung systems and other aspects of their physiology - including their skin - are all similar to those of people, said Mr. [Stephen Bjarnason, head of casualty management at DRDC's Suffield branch]. The same type of monitors used on human patients in the intensive care unit measure their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and other indicators during studies. About 1,500 pigs have been pressed into service since 1997 for chemical-warfare experiments, including tests of an antidote for Sarin gas and other nerve agents that is now routinely issued to Canadian soldiers. The studies also found that rapidly cooling the skin where a chemical agent made contact can delay its impact, giving medics hours more time to neutralize the substance, said Mr. Bjarnason." (National Post; 23Nov09; Tom Blackwell)

Cleveland BioLabs opens enrollment of second safety study for CBLB502 [drug to treat Acute Radiation Syndrome]
"Cleveland BioLabs [...] today announced the opening of enrollment for the second human safety study for CBLB502, a drug under development for the treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). CBLB502 is being developed by Cleveland BioLabs under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Animal Efficacy Rule to treat Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) or radiation poisoning from any exposure to radiation such as a nuclear or radiological weapon / dirty bomb, or from a nuclear accident. This approval pathway requires demonstration of efficacy in representative animal models and safety and drug metabolism testing in healthy human volunteers." (CNN Money; 23Nov09) http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/marketwire/0561669.htm

US Megaports Initiative launched in Kaohsiung
"The implementation of the U.S Megaports Initiative at Kaohsiung Port in southern Taiwan is a significant step forward in Taipei-Washington relations, said American Institute in Taiwan Director William A. Stanton. [...] The Megaports Initiative was set up by the U.S. government under the auspices of the Department of Energy in 2003 to deter the illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive material in many of the world's largest ports. The initiative seeks to enhance the ability of U.S. partners around the world to screen container cargo for nuclear and other radioactive materials that could potentially be exploited by terrorists as weapons of mass destruction. Under the program, U.S. partners are provided with radiation portal monitors, handheld detection devices, optical character recognition technology, communication equipment, training, and technical support at key ports." (Taiwan Today; 19Nov09)

GAO [Government Accountability Office] faults plant for lax nuclear-weapon parts oversight
"The U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that the National Nuclear Security Administration's is not doing enough to prevent rogue actors from acquiring nuclear-weapon components from at least one facility, the Kansas City Star reported yesterday. The GAO report focuses on current operations and plans for a site that would replace a facility in Kansas City. Mo. The Kansas City Plant, overseen by the nuclear agency and managed by a private contractor, produces 85 percent of the non-nuclear components that go into building the average nuclear weapon. Congressional auditors said it has not done enough to ensure that sensitive dual-use equipment does not fall into the hands of terrorist organizations or foreign countries. The nuclear agency has not supplied enough 'oversight or clear and up-to-date control guidance' to limit proliferation opportunities, according to the report. 'The Kansas City Plant instead treats all components as if they pose equal proliferation risks. As such, items such as a common, commercially available screw are considered to be at the same level of proliferation risk as a complex mechanism designed to arm nuclear weapons,' the report says. The existing plant uses other firms to provide 54 percent of its parts; that number would increase to 70 percent at the new facility. It counts on these outside parties to observe U.S. regulations on the sale of parts and technologies that 'may be used by potential adversaries to develop or advance their nuclear capabilities,' said the accountability office." (Global Security Newswire; 24Nov09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091124_8047.php

House Homeland Security Committee passes Congressman Al Green's amendment to expand the Securing the Cities program
"In a unanimous vote, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed this week H.R. 2611, a measure which would authorize the Department of Homeland Security's Securing the Cities (STC) initiative. The bill includes an amendment offered by Congressman Al Green (TX-09) that would expand the scope of the STC program to include at least two additional cities in the program. [...] STC is a unified effort among federal, state and local law enforcement in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to defend against the threat of a radiological or nuclear device. [...] 'While New York City may remain a prime target for terrorist activity, other densely populated areas and those housing a lot of critical infrastructure should also be protected from dirty bombs to the best of our ability. My amendment would benefit even more high-risk urban areas by providing the necessary resources to detect and intercept illicit radiological material before it could be used in a weapon by would-be terrorists,' said Congressman Green." (Congressman Al Green; 20Nov09) http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/tx09_green/pr_20091120.html

Coweta firefighters to get new air-paks [GA]
"Coweta firefighters can breathe a little easier with the unanimous decision Nov. 17 by county commissioners to approve the purchase of new breathing devices and other equipment. The new air-paks will replace the older, questionable equipment currently in use. [...] Fire Chief Johnny Teeters said the purchase [$682,000] would allow the department to replace its aging inventory of Self Contained Breathing Apparatus that do not meet current standards in the areas of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protection." (The Citizen; 19Nov09; Ben Nelms)

Next generation of airport security to take off soon
"The growing threat from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons means airport security cannot rely on conventional screening methods. Airport security in India will go beyond X-ray machines, CCTVs, perimeter patrolling and sniffer dogs. Liquid screeners and radiation detection devices will be part of the security infrastructure in major airports of the country. 'The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has already identified some of the new and emerging threats as attacks with biological, chemical and nuclear material weapons (BCN) and our airports should be ready to meet such threats,' said P Mohanan, former ICAO aviation security auditor. [...] The other significant addition to airport security in the near future would be equipment based on Liquid Screening Technology (LST) which could change the way air passengers pack their handbags. 'Unlike Liquid Explosive Detectors, currently in use in major airports, LST is a non-invasive form of explosive detection,' says Mohanan . While using a Liquid Explosive Detector, the suspected liquid item needs to be removed from the bag for inspection. But an LST works on the agnetic resonance imaging principle, and can detect an explosive liquid inside the bag." (Economic Times; 20Nov09) http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Next-generation-of-airport-security-to-take-off-soon/articleshow/5250270.cms

Iran conducts major defense exercise
"Iran yesterday began a major exercise intended to test and illustrate the nation's ability to protect itself against attack, Reuters reported. The event occurs as tensions are again rising in the standoff over Iran's disputed nuclear activities. [...] The exercise is expected to last five days and involve both the Revolutionary Guard and other military personnel. 'It is the biggest war game, which takes place over an area 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles). The aim of this war game is to promote military power of the armed forces against any attack,' state television quoted Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani as saying. 'The aim of the drill is to display Iran's combat readiness and military potentials,' he added. 'Defense policies, psychological operations and innovations during the war game are among the objectives of the drill.' Iranian broadcasts yesterday showed bomb drops by aircraft, rocket firings and paratroopers climbing into helicopters, the Washington Post reported." (Global Security Newswire; 23Nov09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091123_3673.php

U.S. and South Africa strengthen partnership to prevent illicit WMD-related trade in first bilateral workshop
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry today announced the completion of the first ever bilateral Weapons of Mass Destruction Commodity Identification Training (WMD-CIT) instructor workshop in Pretoria, South Africa. United States and South African interagency officials, including NNSA and a multi-National Laboratory training team, and the South African Revenue Service and South African Department of Energy, discussed global best practices to help front line inspectors identify weapons of mass destruction and WMD-related goods across international borders. Recognizing WMD and related goods allows law enforcement officials to stop and respond to suspicious transfers. This cooperation is another example of U.S. and South African partnership to cooperate to build capacity in combating proliferation networks." (NNSA; 20Nov09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2723.htm

CNS ChemBio-WMD Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

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