War on Terrorism

Sunday, December 06, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, December 4, 2009

Guidelines proposed [by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] for businesses trading in custom-made DNA sequences
"A set of guidelines for how providers of custom-made DNA sequences do business has been proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The proposal is the first comprehensive guidance issued by the government addressing bioterrorism concerns resulting from the rapidly developing synthetic genomics industry. Some security experts believe that a terrorist group or lone terrorist believe that bioweapons could be developed from these materials, which are openly available through the internet. The main recommendation of the guidelines is that synthetic companies should screen both their clients and the DNA sequences that they request. This would allow customers to establish the identity and institutional affiliation of customers. The proposal also calls for companies to look for red flags, including clients who place several orders of the same sequence within a short time frame, who attempt to pay by cash or who request that the product be mislabeled." (Bio Prep Watch; 05Dec09; Tina Redlup)

U.S. health-threat response to be reviewed
"[...A] top Obama administration official has announced a major review of the government's efforts to develop new protections against pandemics, bioterrorism and other health threats. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that she ordered the evaluation in part because the H1N1 vaccine shortage had highlighted the nation's dependence on antiquated technology. 'We'll look for the fastest ways to move to new technologies that will let us quickly produce countermeasures that are more dependable and more robust,' she told the American Medical Association's Third National Congress on Health System Readiness, which is being held in Washington. 'Not just for flu and not just for infectious diseases, but for all the public health threats we face today.' The review will be led by Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, and will be complete by early next year, Sebelius said. [...] The nation's ability to respond to such threats depends not only on having enough hospital beds, emergency rooms, doctors, and equipment such as masks and ventilators, but also on state-of-the-art diagnostic tests, medications and vaccines, she said. 'But the countermeasure that saves the day during a quick-hitting public health emergency can often take years to discover, develop, manufacture and distribute,' she said. 'Like a lot of countries, we've often failed to make the kind of long-term investments in countermeasures we need to stay safe.'" (Washington Post; 01Dec09; Rob Stein)

Anthrax research stopped over euthanasia [Stillwater, OK]

"Oklahoma State University [OSU] administrators stopped a pending program testing anthrax vaccines on baboons because the animals would be euthanized, officials say. The bioterrorism research was to be carried out in a multimillion dollar lab[,] at the university[,] set up specifically for that purpose, the Oklahoman reported Monday. [...] University President Burns Hargis sent an e-mail to veterinary medicine researchers saying he would not allow the National Institutes of Health-funded project, the newspaper said. 'This research was not in the best interest of the university. The testing of lethal pathogens on primates would be a new area for OSU that is controversial and is outside our current research programs' said OSU spokesman Gary Shutt. Veterinarian Michael Davis said using the primates for research is important because they are biologically similar to humans. But after they've been exposed to the anthrax virus [sic] they must be euthanized so as not to infect others." (United Press International 30Nov09)

Wisconsin counties can enforce quarantine measures
"Wisconsin counties have a little-known policy that allows forced isolation or quarantine of people using armed law enforcement and deputized civilians. This is to help health officials in a worst-case scenario to contain outbreaks. Wisconsin statute requires each county to have isolation and quarantine procedures. The order [...] includes isolating people infected or even suspected of being infected with a contagious disease such as tuberculosis or in a flu pandemic. Douglas County Health Officer Deb Clasen says every county health officer in the state can now order that guards be put on infectious people. She says the policy allows health officials to put law enforcement by the door to help contain and prevent people from exposing others to an illness." (Fox 21 News; 30Nov09; Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio)

A vaccination against biological[ weapon agent]s
"Air Force Col. Randall J. Larsen [...] executive director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism [...] tells journalists gathered [...] by the Heritage Foundation. 'Smallpox and anthrax are the only biological threats for which we have [Food and Drug Administration]-approved vaccines. We have enough smallpox vaccines [sic] for every American, but not enough anthrax vaccines [sic] even for 10 percent of our population. Once we increase that supply, we can take these two risks off the table.' Voluntarily immunizing Americans against these two diseases would deter terrorists from plotting attacks with them. Even vaccinating some Americans would create herd immunity, whereby those who stay healthy would impede an epidemic's progress. [...] Col. Larsen's commission offered this sobering conclusion in December: 'Unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.' [...] A biological attack's psychological impact would be incalculable, especially if healthy Americans saw their smallpox-infected neighbors as contagious enemies to be shunned." (Washington Times; 29Nov09; Deroy Murdock)

Major smallpox vaccine order announcement expected
"The biodefense company SIGA Technologies, which engages in the discovery, development and commercialization of products for use in defense against biological warfare agents, is expected to make a major announcement about government orders of its product [smallpox antiviral] soon. [...] The inhaled smallpox virus is considered by the United States government to be the single biggest biological threat to the nation's citizens in the event of a biological attack by terrorists. SIGA applies viral and bacterial genomics as well as sophisticated computational modeling to design and develop novel products with the intention of preventing and treating serious infectious diseases. SIGA places a special emphasis on products for defense against biological warfare." (Bio Prep Watch; 27Nov09; Paul Tinder)

UAE [United Arab Emirates] officials given bioterrorism training
"The United Arab Emirates is not currently facing a bioterrorism threat but it is not taking any chances. Preparedness, Colonel Ali Salem Al Khayal, head of Interpol Abu Dhabi said, is the key when it comes to making sure that the public is kept safe. The nation could also be affected by attacks on other locations in the world, Al Khayal said while attending an Interpol training session hosted by the UAE Interior ministry. Al Khayal called bioterrorism a serious threat, noting that its potential to affect the public at large makes it a matter of concern for law enforcement worldwide. Nations must continually cooperate with each other to face the constantly changing and emerging challenges presented by bioterrorism, Al Khayal said. Additionally, each nation must ensure that it properly trains its human resources to react to a bio attack and equip its responders properly. To that end, 30 UAE officials from various forces, including the police, rescue and emergency management, health authorities, customs, armed forces and the national emergency and crisis management authority attended the Interior ministry's training session, which was devised by Interpol [...] was delivered by experts from 11 countries. Similar training exercises were held in 2007 in Muscat to provide training in identifying and tackling bioterrorism." (Bio Prep Watch; 30Nov09; Pat Dulnier)

[Ventura Country Naval] Base to hold public meeting to discuss cleanup of training areas
"[Steve Granade, the installation restoration program manager for Naval Base Ventura County; is] looking for bullets, mustard gas and unexploded bombs left behind. [...] He's looking into eight different sites on the base where old bombs were blown up, training areas where Seabees prepared for chemical warfare and defunct firing ranges. The base is holding a public meeting tonight on a proposal to study the sites for contamination and determine what cleanup is needed. The study is part of a countrywide effort to clean bases where old training programs may have caused contamination. For years, the standard operating procedure for dealing with old training equipment was to either bury it or burn it. [...] At another site, where small vials of diluted mustard gas were blown up as sailors trained for chemical warfare in the 1940s, the earth will be dug up because the detectors found some metal." (Ventura County Star; 02Dec09; Zeke Barlow)

Russia ahead of chemical weapons deadline
"The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday the country is ahead of an international deadline to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile. The ministry said in a statement Russia has already destroyed 45 percent of its chemical weapons as called for under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and remains dedicated to destroying its remaining stockpiles by 2012, RIA Novosti reported. 'As of Nov. 26, the Russian Federation has completed the destruction of 17,998.205 (metric) tons, or 45.03 percent, of its chemical weapon stockpiles,' the ministry said." (United Press International; 27Nov09)

UK told before Iraq invasion that case was patchy
"On day two of proceedings of an inquiry into the build up to war, a senior civil servant has said that Britain received intelligence stating some Iraqi weapons may not have been assembled, while links to Al-Qaeda were limited. Britain was told just days before invading Iraq that the country's chemical weapons might have been unusable, the inquiry into the Iraq war was told yesterday on day two of proceedings. [...] Foreign Office officials told the inquiry that Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme had, they believed, been dismantled and that they had no evidence of any attempt by Iraq to supply biological weapons to terrorists, as the US was claiming at the time. [...] Witnesses also downplayed Iraq's chances of building a nuclear weapon and addressed a government claim that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could launch a strike with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 45 minutes. [Sir William] Ehrmann [U.K. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China] used adjectives including patchy, sporadic and limited to describe a series of intelligence briefings on WMDs between 2000 and 2002. The inquiry has been criticized in some quarters for having the involvement of too many establishment figures." (World News Australia; 26Nov09; Source: AAP)

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed alMegrahi linked to Libya's chemical weapons
"The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was implicated in the purchase and development of chemical weapons by Libya, according to documents produced by the American government. The papers also claim that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed alMegrahi sought to buy 1,000 letter bombs from Greek arms dealers while working as a Libyan intelligence officer. The documents, prepared by the US State Department, raise further questions about the wisdom of the Scottish government in releasing the convicted bomber on compassionate grounds in August. The documents [...] claim that Megrahi's 'deep involvement in Libya's most sensitive, high-priority procurement operations indicates that he enjoyed the fullest confidence of Libya's leadership.' [...] 'Al-Megrahi is also linked to a senior manager of Libya's chemical weapons development programme.' Colonel [Muammar al] Gadaffi, the Libyan leader, was suspected of seeking to stockpile chemical and biological weapons. [...] Megrahi was freed from prison in Greenock on August 20 after Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister, received advice that he was terminally ill with prostate cancer. Since Megrahi has survived for more than the three months that he was expected to live, some American relatives of the victims of the atrocity are demanding that he be returned." (Sunday Times; 29Nov09; Mark Macaskill)

List released of munitions found in Spring Valley [District of Columbia]

"At the demand of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Army Corps of Engineers has for the first time given some insight into what they've discovered buried in Spring Valley. Since 1993, they've been digging up World War I era munitions buried after the war. [...] The report says between 1993 and 2001 the Corps of Engineers unearthed at least 865 intact munitions. Of those, at least 80 were listed as chemical in nature. Slated to be destroyed next year are five projectiles containing chemical weapons. Three contain arsine, a colorless, nonirritating toxic gas with a mild garlic odor. Also slated to be destroyed a round containing mustard gas, a blistering agent, and another round containing lewisite also a blistering agent that smells like geraniums. [...] Along with the chemical weapons 86 discarded munitions, some documented as an explosive hazard, are set to be disposed of in 2010." (WJLA Channel 8; 01Dec09)

Iran urges annihilation of chemical weapons

"The Islamic Republic of Iran on Wednesday reiterated its strong support for global efforts to dismantle chemical weapons throughout the world. 'We support the efforts made by those countries in possession of chemical weapons to observe the deadlines for dismantling their chemical arsenals,' Secretary of Iran's National Committee for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Dehqani said, addressing the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. [...] Dehqani urged also signatories of the Convention to observe the deadline, and warned that the US announcement that it cannot respect the agreed deadline is frightening. [...] 100,000 Iranians are still living with the effects [of chemical weapons used by Iraqi forces during the 1980-1988 war], which include long-term respiratory problems, eye and skin problems as well as immune system disorders, psychological disorders, genetic disorders, and probably cancers." (Fars News Agency; 02Dec09)

Chemical and biological attacks simulated in Israel
"Under the many potential threats, the Israeli government simulated a chemical warfare drill recently, including mass simulated casualties. Approximately seven million citizens took part in the preparedness drill, taking refuge in shelters. As part of the drill, Haredi Jews played the role of fatalities at a Jerusalem shopping mall while rescue workers equipped with protective suits practiced their chemical weapons attack training. Unconventional methods of attack such as biological and chemical weapons were also simulated by Israeli and U.S. armies last month as part of a joint preparedness drill. A U.S. Army spokesman noted that the training drill was necessary to prepare for any possible attack scenario." (Bio Prep Watch; 25Nov09; Nick Rees)

Lithuania assumed the chairmanship of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
"Lithuania's Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ambassador Vaidotas Verba assumed the year-long chairmanship of the annual Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. [...] The chair of the Conference plays an important political and coordinating role in searching for the solutions on the most important issues that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons faces, ensures the dialogue between the member states and the Secretariat of the organization, holds formal and informal meetings in order to ensure the development of the political dialogue of States Part[y] and maintains relations with such countries, which are aspiring for the membership in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, [such] as Iraq. [...] Lithuania also consistently raises the issue of sea-dumped chemical weapons and consolidates international forces to solve this issue. [...] Lithuania has initiated the international cooperation to prepare and adopt the United Nations resolution on sea-dumped chemical weapons in 2010. The chairmanship of Lithuania started today and will continue until 1 December 2010." (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania; 30Nov09)

Chemical Weapons Convention annual meeting under way
"The annual meeting of member nations to the Chemical Weapons Convention began today in The Hague, Netherlands. Delegates are expected to vote on Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu appointment as the next head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the verification body for the pact. The 188 OPCW member nations are scheduled to meet through Friday. They are expected to discuss how convention states with chemical weapons are destroying their arsenals and whether they are meeting agreed-upon deadlines for disarmament, ITAR-Tass reported. Meanwhile, Russia stated Friday that it had disposed of 45 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile as part of its obligations under the convention, United Press International reported. 'As of Nov. 26, the Russian Federation has completed the destruction of 17,998.205 (metric) tons or 45.03 percent, of its chemical weapons stockpiles,' the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Russia expects to have destroyed all of its chemical weapons by April 29, 2012, the deadline set by the convention." (Global Security Newswire; 30Nov09)

H.E. Mr Ahmet Uzumcu of Turkey appointed as next Director-General of the OPCW
"The 14th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention today appointed H.E Mr Ahmet Uzumcu of Turkey as the next Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). [...] Ambassador Uzumcu will assume the office on 25 July 2010 with a mandate extending until 2014. [...] Ambassador Uzumcu [...] emphasized the political will, commitment and determination displayed by the States Parties as well as their engagement and active participation in the organisation's work.. He further stated that he was pleased to inherit such a legacy and that he shall do his utmost to maintain the effectiveness of the OPCW and to ensure steady progress in reaching the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. [...] Ambassador Uzumcu is a career diplomat with extensive multilateral experience in political-military affairs and in disarmament and proliferation issues." (OPCW; 02Dec09)

Napolitano to reset deadline for foreign cargo scanning

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed Wednesday that her department will not be able to ensure that all maritime cargo entering U.S. ports will be scanned by 2012, and instead will take advantage of a loophole in the law to push the deadline back by at least two years. Democrats put a legal requirement in the first bill they passed after taking control of Congress in 2007 that the Homeland Security Department must ensure that all cargo being shipped from foreign ports to the United States is scanned by nonintrusive inspection equipment by 2012. [...] Napolitano told the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday that the requirement is not realistic for several reasons, including cost, the lack of adequate technology and the inability to secure agreements with foreign governments. [...] But she added that the government has multiple programs to help secure cargo and prevent a nightmare scenario in which a weapon of mass destruction is smuggled into a U.S. port via a shipping container. 'We should not believe that 100 percent scanning equates to 100 percent security,' she said. The Government Accountability Office issued a report Wednesday concluding that the department does not have a plan to scan all containers abroad. GAO added that the department plans to issue a blanket extension to all foreign ports by July 2012 to be in compliance with the law." (Government Executive; 03Dec09; Chris Strohm)

[U.S. Customs and] Border [Protection] deploys 179 radiation monitors at U.S. entry points
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] announced yesterday that in fiscal 2009 it fielded 179 radiation detection devices to entry points across the country. That brings the total number of deployed radiation monitors at seaports and land-based entry locations to 1,354. The monitors give inspection agents the ability to check nearly all incoming mail, truck freight, ship cargo and personal vehicles for material that could be used in a nuclear or radiological weapon. The Homeland Security Department agency in the last fiscal year also dealt with 7,408 requests for technical assistance regarding possible WMD materials, according to a CBP press release. 'Many inappropriate radioactive shipments were returned to their country of origin,' the agency said. The agency in June opened the Southwest Regional Science Center in Houston. The laboratory can screen, detect and identify chemical, biological and nuclear materials."
(Global Security Newswire; 25Nov09)

Workers at Indian plant probed on radioactive leak
"Investigators into the leak of a radioactive substance into drinking water at an Indian atomic plant have questioned several employees, officials said on Monday. The government has said the contamination was deliberate. With the help of Indian intelligence, the government-run Nuclear Power Corporation has launched a probe on how tritium seeped into a water cooler, which put 55 workers into medical care for excessive exposure to radiation. The leak may raise security fears over India's nuclear energy program, though both the government and the director of the plant have played down the threat of the leak to the public. 'Investigations are being carried out to find out how it happened and who did it,' a plant official, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters. The plant is in Kaiga on the west coast, 450 km (280 miles) from Bangalore. The contamination was deliberate, several newspapers on Monday quoted the government and the head of India's Atomic Energy Commission as saying. 'On the face of it, the incident appears to be the handiwork of a disgruntled employee,' Science Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, according to the Asian Age. India signed a landmark civilian nuclear deal with the United States in 2008 to help meet the growing energy needs of the world's second most populous nation." (Reuters; 30Nov09)

Security Watch India organizing a conference on effect of terrorism on India's infrastructure and econ[omy, topics include CBRN threats]

"Security Watch India is organizing a conference called The Challenge of Terrorism to India's Infrastructure & Economy, which is slated to take place on Dec 9 and Dec 10 in New Delhi. Security Watch India is committed towards harnessing the most-recent security technologies and the best practices of the world so that India's assets have better security. [...] Some of the prime issues which will be discussed at the conference include best security practices adopted by world for aviation, ports as well as major events, handling CBRN threats, the counter terrorism mechanisms for State Police forces, creation of elite forces, the steps to be adopted for enhancing and integrating the intelligence resources as well as preparing the industry for crisis management and resilience. [...] The conference will also be providing live demonstrations of latest best practices of the world including UAV surveillance, explosive detection equipments as well as latest technologies adopted in personal security, to name a few." (India Server; 25Nov09)

HazMat team simulates biohazard scenario in Mesquite [NV]
"Major David Sellen, the head of the Nevada National Guard's 92nd Civil Support Team [...] and his team of 22 men were in Mesquite on Monday to train in responding to a biohazard. The team is trained to respond to situations involving hazardous materials, including chemical, biological, and radiological materials. Monday's six-hour session revolved around a scenario involving the discovery of a fictitious biohazard lab in an abandoned house near the Oasis Resort. The morning began with the HazMat team arriving in more than a half-dozen unmarked dark blue vehicles, including a high-tech communications truck used to coordinate transmissions between local first responders such as the fire and police department. [...] Sgt. Jordan Clark [...] went step by step through the specific process of decontaminating the technicians as they leave the target area. [...] 'Removing the boots and gloves removes about 90% of the contamination,' Clark explained. While still wearing their HazMat suits, the techs [...] are scanned by a portable ICAM, or Improved Chemical Agent Monitor, as well as a special radiation detector that scans for beta, gamma, and x-ray radiation. [...] The techs are [also] equipped with personal chemical and radiological detection equipment. Lyle explained that the teams are tasked with investigating and gathering samples of whatever biohazard is discovered." (Mesquite Local News; 03Dec09; Morris Workman)

EDA [European Defense Agency] announces CBR training exercise
"The European Defense Agency announced plans to organize a chemical, biological and radiological explosives ordnance disposal training exercise. The EDA, with the Belgium Engineer Department, released plans to host the CBR Explosives Ordnance Disposal Table Top Exercise that will include training from experts as part of an effort to foster technical capabilities to counter improvised explosive devises, the EDA reported. The evolving threat from an IED with chemical or biological material requires next-generation technologies and armed forces in Europe capable of responding to potential incidents. Officials say the exercise is scheduled from Dec. 6-11 at the Belgium Joint CBRN Center." (United Press International; 30Nov09)

Lithuania and the U.S.A. strengthen cooperation regarding non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
"On 30 November, Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Vygaudas Usackas and U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Anne E. Derse signed a protocol, which strengthens the cooperation between Lithuania and the U.S.A. concerning the prevention of illegal transfer and trafficking in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and related materials. [...] The Protocol partially amends and extends the term of the Agreement between the governments of Lithuania and the United States of America Concerning Cooperation in the Area of the Prevention of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Promotion of Defense and Military Relations. 'The agreement that was signed today will provide firmer ground for the cooperation between our two countries in the fight against terrorism. In this way we contribute to the safety of all Lithuanian citizens and to the security within the region and throughout the world,' Minister V.Usackas said during the signing ceremony." (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania; 30Nov09)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] and the border police of Romania cooperate to thwart nuclear smuggling
"The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Border Police of Romania commissioned mobile radiation detection equipment for use in Romania at a ceremony held in Bucharest. [...] NNSA's Second Line of Defense Program (SLD) is providing the Romanian Border Police with two vans equipped with radiation detection equipment, along with related handheld detection and isotope identification equipment. SLD also provides training on the use of this equipment. The Romanian Border Police will use the equipment at international points of entry as well as at other locations throughout the country. 'In the hands of our well trained and experienced Romanian Border Police partners, this equipment will assist in preventing and deterring the illicit trafficking of nuclear material and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We plan to continue our cooperation with the Romanian Border Police to include installation of stationary equipment at key ports of entry,' said Ken Baker, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation." (NNSA; 02Dec09)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Major smallpox vaccine order announcement expected"

Thanks for posting on Siga, I am an investor in the company and am eagerly anticipating this award. If I could make one small correction to you post... The order is for an antiviral not a vaccine.