War on Terrorism

Friday, January 15, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, January 15, 2010

Select agents and toxins list hindering biosecurity, scientists say

"Scientists have said that the Select Agents and Toxins list, rather than strengthening security, is, in fact, undermining the nation's security. The list, which has been maintained since 2001 and lists 80 microbes and toxins that are basically forbidden to researchers, is chosen without input from any researchers. In an article published in Nature Reviews Microbiology, scientists Arturo Casadevall and David Relman say that the list hinders research efforts and, as a result, the biosecurity of the nation. Casadevall and Relman argue that the microbes and toxins on the list are nearly impossible to obtain for legitimate research, which the two say is needed to work on the creation of vaccines to protect people from the bioattacks the nation's government fears. Many of the microbes on the list are chosen based solely upon their taxonomic category, which does not always work for microbes as they can have different strains of varying toxicity and overlap by species. The list, as a result, lists harmless microbe strains while missing dangerous ones." (Bio Prep Watch; 12Jan10; Nick Rees)

Federal panel wants more scrutiny of biolab workers

"A federal panel has recommended that researchers who work with the world's deadliest pathogens undergo more frequent security screening. The Working Group on Strengthening the Biosecurity of the United States also suggested random drug tests and closer monitoring of the physical and mental health of those with access to dangerous pathogens and it recommended tighter scrutiny of foreign nationals who work in U.S. labs. […] The panel recommended that those who work with dangerous pathogens undergo a security risk assessment every three years instead of every five, the current standard. The assessment should include certain mental health indicators that the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation is] currently prohibited from using in such reviews, the panel said." (Security Info Watch; 15Jan10; David Dishneau, Associated Press) http://www.securityinfowatch.com/Executives/1314420

CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] awards $2.7 million for two new Preparedness Research Centers

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $2.7 million to establish two new Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers (PERRCs). These new centers are additions to the existing 7 research centers funded in 2008. These new PERRCs will conduct research that will evaluate the structure, capabilities, and performance of public health systems for preparedness and emergency response activities. 'This is an excellent opportunity to work with a variety of experts to enhance our nation's public health preparedness systems,' said Dr. Dan Sosin, acting director of CDC's Coordinating Office for Preparedness and Emergency Response. 'We look forward to the science-based research these universities plan to provide and implementing it toward supporting public health practice and strengthening our preparedness for future public health emergencies.' […] The University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles were selected to receive funds. […] There are now 9 PERRCs throughout the U.S." (Center for Disease Control and Prevention; 07Jan10) http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r100107.htm

[St. Lawrence County] Health district plan back [NY]

"St. Lawrence County officials are picking up where they left off more than a year ago to establish a countywide health district. […] 'I think there is a huge advantage in having a countywide health district, particularly in times of emergency,' [Director Susan J.] Hathaway said. 'What you have then is the whole county acting as one to be able to respond to an emergency or disaster.' […] The health district would be governed by a Board of Health that sets policies to enforce public health laws and quarantine orders. The board would also coordinate emergency responses for disease outbreaks such as pandemic flu, disasters and bioterrorism attacks." (Watertown Daily Times; 15Jan10; Elizabeth Graham)

Researchers learn how smallpox [virus] causes death

"Scientists conducting research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified the means by which smallpox [virus] causes death, Science Daily reported. […] The research, described in the FASEB [Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology] Journal, addresses a major question in the study of the smallpox virus. It could lead to the creation of new antiviral countermeasures against the disease. Researchers found that cells infected with the variola virus, which causes smallpox, and with the similar monkeypox virus created a protein that restricted the human interferon molecules that are supposed to prevent viruses from reproducing. 'These studies demonstrate the production of an interferon binding protein by variola virus and monkeypox virus, and point at this viral anti-interferon protein as a target to develop new therapeutics and protect people from smallpox and related viruses,' according to Spanish researcher Antonio Alcami. […] Added FASEB Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerald Weissmann: 'The re-emergence of pox viruses has potentially devastating consequences for people worldwide, as increasing numbers of people lack immunity to smallpox. Understanding exactly how pox viruses disrupt our immune systems can help us develop defenses against natural and terror-borne pox viruses.'" (Global Security Newswire; 11Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100111_6667.php

Researchers developing nanoscale optical fibers to detect bioterrorist agents [Blacksburg, VA]

"In an age when bacterial agents may be intentionally released as method of terrorist attack, there is an increased need for quick diagnostic methods that require limited resources and personnel. Thomas Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair of Bacteriology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop such a diagnostic test. He and his co-investigators, James 'Randy' Heflin, a professor in the Department of Physics in the university's College of Science, and Abey Bandera, a research assistant professor in the veterinary college, are working to develop nanoscale optical fiber biosensor tests, or assays, for detection of Francisella tularensis, Burkholderia mallei, and B. pseudomallei. […] 'This assay will be rugged, portable, inexpensive, and rapid,' said Inzana, who is also the associate vice president for research programs at the university. 'All of these are critical to minimizing the affect on an intentionally introduced biological weapon.' The increased speed of detection allowed by this new, optical fiber assay will also increase the speed of treatment for those affected, according to Inzana." (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; 12Jan10; Susan Trulove)

Drive-through flu clinic effective [Palo Alto, CA]

"During the H1N1 pandemic in California, researchers say they set up and ran a model drive-through flu clinic in a parking garage. Using charts from actual patients who had visited the Stanford University emergency department during the H1N1 outbreak last April, the researchers registered, triaged, screened and discharged actors playing patients. The study, published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine, found the average length of stay was 26 minutes, with doctors who participated in the exercise improving their time. 'In our model, the drive-through influenza clinic rapidly evaluated patients while mitigating the person-to-person spread of infectious disease,' lead author Dr. Eric A. Weiss of Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., says in a statement. 'The patient's vehicle becomes a self-contained isolation room as well as a moving examination room that alleviates the delay inherent in turning over a fixed number of rooms and spaces with the hospital. A drive-through influenza clinic is an alternative care center with many advantages and few limitations. It could also be used in [the event of] a bioterrorist [attack].'" (United Press International; 13Jan10) http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/01/13/Drive-through-flu-clinic-effective/UPI-61791263406521/

Intelligence agencies reach out to scientists to counter terror[ism] weapons

"The U.S. intelligence community has thousands of qualified personnel who analyze and collect data on weapons of mass destruction, but few experts in the sciences on which these potentially deadly technologies are based, said experts at a recent panel discussion. The National Counterproliferation Center, which resides in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has hired a handful of experts to act as liaisons between the intelligence world and scientific community, said Lawrence Kerr, one of the advisers to the center and a holder of a Ph.D in cell biology. 'We have phenomenal analysts, phenomenal collectors, but we have to find ways of talking to the community so we can ask for their help and not threaten their mission,' he said at an American Association for the Advancement of Science panel discussion. The advisers do not analyze or collect intelligence, but seek ways to leverage the expertise that resides in the life sciences community. […] The intelligence community was already adept at tracking things […] but since all of this technology is dual use, that no longer works. The challenge is now trying to detect an organization, government or person's intent. 'How do we get inside or next to people whose influence can actually decide the intent of an individual, an organization or a state?' [Kerr] asked. […] The game is already over as far as bio-weapons proliferation, Kerr said. 'The globalization of life science enterprise, the constructs, knowledge and expertise of how one would actually turn a biological pathogen into a weapon - that information is already widely spread around the world,' he said." (National Defense Magazine; Feb10; Stew Magnuson) http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2010/February/Pages/IntelligenceAgencies

Deseret chemical [depot] resumes mustard agent destruction [UT]

"Workers resumed processing mustard agent-filled 4.2-inch cartridges this week as part of ongoing mustard disposal operations at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. […] Since halting mortar operations, a new $33 million filtering system designed to safely capture mercury from furnace exhaust gas streams has successfully completed performance tests before Utah state regulatory authorities. The new filtration system uses sulfur-impregnated carbon to capture mercury in furnace exhausts. To ensure safety of the workers, community and environment, mercury-monitoring systems are located at intervals within the filter beds. The mercury-monitoring systems ensure the carbon filters are working properly and complement other emission monitoring equipment." (Deseret News; 13Jan10) http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705358273/Deseret-Chemical-resumes-mustard-agent-destruction.html

7th Air Force conducts major exercise [Osan Air Base, South Korea]

"Thousands of U.S. airmen across South Korea took part this past week in a training exercise aimed at drilling them in doing their jobs the way they'd have to in wartime. Called Beverly Bulldog 10-01, the mock air campaign […] involved more than 7,200 U.S. airmen at Osan and Kunsan air bases and other points around the peninsula in an air war exercise of the type the U.S. 7th Air Force (Air Forces Korea) holds peninsula-wide at least twice yearly. […] Fighter pilots maneuvered their combat jets during dogfight training in the skies over South Korea, carried out mock attacks on enemy ground forces and other targets, and practiced air strikes that require coordination with forward air controllers. Other air-crews conducted combat search-and-rescue missions. […] Security forces practiced defending their bases against simulated enemy ground attacks. Medical personnel practiced treating the wounded. Airmen also practiced giving first aid to themselves and wounded buddies. Airmen and soldiers […] performed their jobs under a simulated chemical weapons attack." (Stars and Stripes; 16Jan10)

OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Director-General [Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter] welcomes continued EU [European Union] support for OPCW activities

"The EU Council Decision 2009 supports concrete projects that will endorse and strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation measures of the CWC. The OPCW has commenced implementation of the European Union (EU) Council Decision 2009 on support for OPCW activities in the framework of the implementation of the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (the EU Strategy) adopted on 12 December 2003. The EU Strategy underlines the crucial role of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and of the OPCW in creating a world free of chemical weapons. As part of this strategy the EU has committed itself to working towards universal adherence to key disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements, including the CWC." (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; 15Dec09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/opcw-director-general-welcomes-continued-eu-support-for-opcw-activities/

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] recovers high-activity radioactive sources from warehouse 25 miles from New York City

"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has successfully completed the recovery of two high-activity Cesium-137 devices from a warehouse located approximately 25 miles from Manhattan in Rahway, New Jersey. NNSA recovered these disused and unwanted irradiators as part of its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). […] 'Properly disposing of more than 3,000 curies of Cesium eliminates the threat this material poses if lost or stolen and used in a dirty bomb,' said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino. 'This recovery is part of NNSA's comprehensive strategy to keep dangerous nuclear and radiological material safe and secure and protect the American people by further enhancing our nation's nuclear security.'" (National Nuclear Security Administration; 14Jan10) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2790.htm

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] announces highly enriched uranium removed from Turkey

"The National Nuclear Security Administration [NNSA] today announced the removal of the final 5.4 kilograms (11.9 pounds) of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent nuclear fuel from Turkey. The material - the last significant amount of HEU in Turkey - was removed and returned to the United States for storage at a secure nuclear facility, making Turkey the fourth country to be cleaned out of nearly all HEU since President Obama outlined his commitment to securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. 'This shipment of HEU from Turkey represents a major step forward in NNSA's ongoing efforts to implement President Obama's unprecedented nuclear security agenda to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism,' said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 12Jan10) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2785.htm

Terrorist alert exercise rattles Guam

"Guam Homeland Security and the Office of Civil Defense combined with several local and federal agencies in a 36-hour field training exercise. This exercise, Mane'Lu, is designed to have local and federal agencies collaborate and react to simulated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive disasters. The other agencies that participated in this exercise are the Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD), the Guam National Guard's 94th Civil Support Team (CST), the Alaska National Guard's 103rd CST." (Guam News Factor; 12Jan10; David F. Macaluso) http://www.guamnewsfactor.com/201001121790/Top-Stories/Terrorist-Alert-Exercise-Rattles-Guam.html

Responder attends training [Mount Airy, NC]

"A health department worker recently had the opportunity to receive training by a Homeland Security agency. The training was offered for free to emergency responders who were accepted through an application process. Steve Simandle, field supervisor for the environmental health section of the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, completed training offered for emergency responders by the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). […] The CDP is the only federally-chartered weapons of mass destruction training facility in the nation. Simandle heard about the training from other public health employees, so he decided to apply to go. 'We rely on him a lot when it comes to preparedness information,' said Thomas Williams, preparedness coordinator for the health center. 'It was a great opportunity to send him to this training.' […] The training is federally-funded and free for emergency management, emergency medical service, fire service, governmental administrative, hazardous materials, health care, law enforcement, public health, public safety communications, and public works employees." (Mount Airy News, NC; 13Jan10; Meghann Evans) http://www.mtairynews.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Responder+attends+training%20&id=5532901&instance=home_news_lead

Canada may use G8 summit to battle spread of dirty bombs

"Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and corralling components for a dirty bomb terror[ist] attack is fast becoming Canada's top agenda item for the G8 summit it will host this summer. […] Canada is being urged to offer the Huntsville summit as an international platform to highlight the threats posed by the rogue nuclear states of Iran and North Korea, as well as terrorists acquiring the components for a nuclear dirty bomb. A recent report submitted to the U.S. Congress predicted a nuclear or biological dirty bomb commandeered by terrorists will be used by 2013. It appears Canada will have at least two important G8 supporters in their effort to put reducing nuclear stockpiles atop the G8 agenda. The Obama White House in Washington and the Kremlin in Moscow. U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, have agreed to pursue a new treaty to reduce their formidable nuclear arsenals. […] Mr. Mamedov said non-proliferation could be 'a staple of the G8 meeting because we are all concerned about the speedy proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.' In particular, Mr. Mamedov said security officials in Canada and elsewhere are worried about the threat posed if nuclear material fell into terrorists' hands and was used to manufacture a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb that could devastate a large city." (Globe and Mail; 04Jan10; Mike Blanchfield) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-may-use-g8-summit-to-battle-spread-of-dirty-bombs/article1418814/

Mobile labs delivered to Canada to fight biological and chemical attacks

"Two mobile laboratories - one an all-hazard triage facility and one a mobile chemical lab - have been delivered to a major Canadian military research facility dedicated to fighting chemical and biological agents. The delivery to the Alberta, Canada lab was greeted by leaders and members of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, the United States' premier national resource for chemical and biological defense, and members of the Defence Research and Development Candada Suffield. 'The project began as a proof-of-concept, with the intent to create an all-hazards triage facility as well as a truly mobile chemical lab for on-the-spot analysis,' George Noya, ECBC Mobile Labs and Kits Team leader, said. 'The mobile lab was envisioned to be a deployable military asset that could support high-profile events across Canada.'" (Bio Prep Watch; 15Jan10; Nick Rees)

EU [European Union] approves Danish terror[ism] insurance scheme

"The European Commission has approved a Danish government scheme to cover potential insurance claims stemming from terrorist attacks with nuclear, biological, chemical or radioactive weapons, officials said on Wednesday. The European Union's executive body approved the 15 billion Danish crowns (1.8 billion pounds) scheme, recognizing that the market for re-insurance against unlikely but high-impact events did not provide adequately for Danish insurers. 'The decision will ensure that insurance coverage against certain terrorist risks is available on the Danish market, while at the same time ensuring that state aid and Single Market rules are respected,' Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. […] The scheme […] is open to all Danish and foreign non-life insurers, it said. The state will provide a guarantee on non-life insurance against damages from terror[ist] attacks with nuclear, biological, chemical or radioactive (NBCR) weapons that exceed a threshold initially set at 5 billion Danish crown. The Danish government then provides a guarantee for the next 15 billion crowns worth of losses that exceed that threshold." (New York Times; 13Jan10) http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/01/13/world/international-uk-denmark-insurance-terrorism.html

Mombasa port joins U.S. war on terrorism

"Bottom of Form Mombasa has become the first regional port to be included in the [U.S.] Megaports programme. […] The project is meant to ensure integrity of the supply chain against illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials that can be used in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. Applauding the initiative, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Dr Cyrus Njiru, said that it will improve the country's profile for opportunities in investments. […] The commissioner general of the Kenya Revenue Authority KRA Mr Michael Waweru said that since trade is conveyed through containerised cargo, success in interdicting radioactive materials lay on maximum co-operation between the government agencies. 'We have now partnered with the US government through Department of Homeland Security's United States Customs and Boarder Protection (USCBP) and the Nuclear Detection Office (NDOE) to counter nuclear and radiological threats to Kenya by scanning high risk containers bound to Kenya,' said Waweru."Bottom of Form (Business Daily Africa, Kenya; 14Jan10; Githua Kihara) http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Company%20Industry/-/539550/842340/-/t4nmcvz/-U.K. revised Iraq

WMD claims to match U.S. assertions, report says

"Documents and official testimonies suggest former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government altered its 2002 case for invading Iraq to echo Bush administration assertions about the Middle Eastern country's WMD capabilities, the London Guardian reported. […] A day after U.S. President George W. Bush said in September 2002 that Saddam Hussein's government could build a nuclear weapon within a year with sufficient nuclear material, the U.K. halved the estimate in the initial draft of its dossier that Iraq would need at least two years to acquire a bomb, according to British Cabinet Office records. […] The dossier asserted that Iraq had procured aluminum tubing for nuclear activities because U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had made the claim, Tim Dowse, a British Foreign Office official who helped author the report, said during a hearing of the independent panel examining the United Kingdom's participation in the Iraq war. Alastair Campbell, Blair's former communications chief, was said to have directly ordered the changes to the British report. The dossier should be 'one that complements rather than conflicts with U.S. claims,' he wrote in a letter to John Scarlett, the intelligence official who was supervising preparation of the document." (Global Security Newswire; 11Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100111_7989.php

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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