War on Terrorism

Friday, February 19, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, February 19, 2010

FBI formally closes anthrax [spore dissemination] case [of Bruce Ivins]
"The FBI has decided with finality that a U.S. government researcher acted alone in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings and is closing its long-running investigation, a person familiar with the case said Friday. [...] The anthrax case was one of the most vexing and costly investigations in U.S. history until officials announced in 2008 that the lone suspect was Dr. Bruce Ivins, who killed himself as authorities prepared to indict him. The move Friday seals that preliminary investigative conclusion." (USA Today; 19Feb10; Source: AP) http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-02-19-anthrax-case-closed_N.htm

Biothreats see security firms expanding
"Growing perceptions of unknown threats to communities from biological terrorism and warfare have led to the rise of security businesses dealing with detection and prevention of harmful substances targeting individuals and societies. The most noticeable increase in business involves firms that are marketing devices capable of detecting dangerous substances both in peacetime civilian environment and on the battlefield. [...] Despite numerous anthrax [sic] false alarms in recent months, in Canada, the United States and elsewhere, government officials and private sector decision-makers agree in published comments the risk is too great to ignore any available means of dealing with potential threats." (United Press International; 18Feb10) http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2010/02/18/Biothreats-see-security-firms-expanding/UPI-18131266502707/

New [Oak Ridge National Laboratory] ORNL sensor exploits traditional weakness of nano devices
"By taking advantage of a phenomenon that until now has been a virtual showstopper for electronics designers, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Panos Datskos is developing a chemical and biological sensor with unprecedented sensitivity. Ultimately, researchers believe this new 'sniffer' will achieve a detection level that approaches the theoretical limit, surpassing other state-of-the-art chemical sensors. The implications could be significant for anyone whose job is to detect explosives, biological agents and narcotics. [...] The researchers envision this technology being incorporated in a handheld instrument that could be used by transportation security screeners, law enforcement officials and the military. Other potential applications are in biomedicine, environmental science, homeland security and analytical chemistry. With adequate levels of funding, Datskos envisions a prototype being developed within six to 18 months." (Oak Ridge National Laboratory; 12Feb10; Ron Walli)

Army to blow up some chemical stockpiles
"Under the gun to destroy the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile -- and now all but certain to miss their deadline -- Army officials have a plan to hasten the process: Blow some of them up. The Army would use explosives to destroy some of the Cold War-era weapons, which contain some of the nastiest compounds ever made, in two communities in Kentucky and Colorado that fought down another combustion-based plan years ago. [...] Environmentalists who years ago successfully blocked a plan to burn weapons containing mustard agent at the Pueblo depot and another in Richmond, Kentucky, just south of Lexington, say blowing up some of the weapons in a detonation chamber would be worse than burning them. They argue the plan violates the Army's promise to dispose of the mustard agent at the two sites by neutralizing it -- a process that involves mixing it with water and either bacteria or a combination of fuel and superheated air -- and taking it to a hazardous waste dump. That takes longer than simply destroying the weapons by explosion." (Army Times; 19Feb10; Jeffrey Mcmurray) http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/02/ap_army_chemical_weapons_021910/

Seventy percent of Army's chemical weapons stockpiles destroyed
"U.S. Army officials have announced that more than 70 percent of the Army's chemical weapons stockpiles have been destroyed with the majority expected to be destroyed by 2012. The United States' arsenal includes 31,500 tons of chemical weapons, made up of sarin, VX and mustard agents. To date, 22,322 tons of that arsenal have been destroyed. 'It is a tremendous success story,' Carmen Spencer, deputy assistant Secretary of the Army (Elimination of Chemical Weapons), told Army.mil. 'Not only is the U.S doing all it can to meet its international commitments, but more importantly the Chemical Materials Agency is contributing to the national security of the United States in the process. These weapons in the wrong hands can do harm. They are safely and securely storing and destroying them while providing maximum protection to the public and environment.'" (Bio Prep Watch; 15Feb10; Tina Redlup)

Death sentence for ex-Aum member Niimi finalized
"The death sentence for former senior AUM Shinrikyo cult member Tomomitsu Niimi has been finalized for his roles in 11 crimes killing 26 people as the Supreme Court rejected the defendant's objection [to] the top court's earlier ruling. With the decision by the court's Third Petty Bench dated Tuesday, Niimi, 45, will become the 10th person whose death sentence has been finalized over a series of crimes involving the cult group, which include the 1989 murder of a lawyer and his family, and two deadly sarin nerve gas attacks in 1994 and 1995." (Mainichi Daily News; 18Feb10) http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100218p2g00m0dm001000c.html

Navy agrees to fund toxic water study at N[orth] C[arolina] base
"The Navy has agreed after months of fighting to fund a study into the health effects of past water pollution at Camp Lejeune on Marines. The Department of the Navy said in a letter Thursday to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that it will pay more than $1.5 million for the work. The study will look at whether there are higher mortality rates for Marines who served at the base during the years the water was contaminated. [...] The Navy also agreed to pay almost $2 million for the completion of a water modeling project to determine how underground water flowed at the base and how toxins [sic] would have been introduced and spread." (Stars and Stripes; 19Feb10; Source: AP) http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TOXIC_TAP_WATER?SITE=DCSAS

Backpack-wearing cockroaches to detect radiation
"The creature that's expected to inherit the Earth following a nuclear holocaust might also be well suited to help prevent man's atomic self-destruction. Researchers at Texas A&M University's Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute have attached radiation sensors to the backs of cockroaches. They hope public-safety officials will one day send the souped-up insects into situations that are too risky for humans. He [William Charlton, an associate professor of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M] envisions teams of about 20 remotely-controlled roaches -- each carrying one of three types of sensors meant to detect different nuclear materials -- that would march through areas of up to a square kilometer and send their readings back to an operator via a tiny, low-energy communications system. This would help officials determine if potentially contaminated areas -- such as buildings where they suspect terrorists have planted a dirty bomb -- are safe for humans." (National Defense Magazine; 16Feb10; Austin Wright) http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2010/March/Pages/BackpackWearingCockroaches.aspx

Al Qaeda's quest for the bomb
"In a paper, written for Harvard's Belfer Center, [Rolf] Mowatt-Larssen [former C.I.A. official and Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the Department of Energy] details Al Qaeda's patient, decade-long effort to steal or construct an improvised nuclear device -- the ultimate horror. The quest explains why Al Qaeda has not sought 'the production of tactical, more readily available weapons such as 'dirty bombs,' chemical agents, crude toxins and poisons' that might do damage and take lives, but cannot compare to 'the benefits of producing the image of a mushroom cloud rising over a U.S. city.' [...] This could explain why bin Laden's deputy, Zawahiri, called off an attack on the New York subway system, holding out for 'something better.' A relatively easy attack using tactical weapons would not achieve the goals that Al Qaeda leaders have set for themselves, Mowatt–Larssen argues. Al Qaeda may be holding out for a truly strategic blow." (New York Times; 19Feb10; H.D.S. Greenway) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/opinion/20iht-edgreenway.html

Canada prepared for WMD terrorism at Olympics
"Canada has deployed a small army of 15,500 military, police and security personnel in the Vancouver area in an effort to head off or handle any potential terrorist act during the Winter Olympics, including use of weapons of mass destruction. [...] At least publicly, Canadian officials have largely chosen to go it alone, saying they have all the resources and equipment they need without engaging some of the most well-known international teams in WMD defense. International expertise the Canadians are not expected to employ include a Czech military unit known for its capabilities in detecting and combating chemical and biological weapons, International Atomic Energy Agency security teams and the U.S. Energy Department's special Nuclear Emergency Support Team." (Global Security Newswire; 16Feb10; Lee Michael Katz) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100216_2280.php

Pakistan calls on US to [allow Pakistan to] repatriate Aafia Siddiqui
"Islamabad has appealed to Washington to [allow Pakistan to] repatriate the female Pakistani scientist convicted in a US court of attempting to murder US military interrogators and FBI agents. [...] Siddiqui vanished in Karachi, Pakistan with her three children on March 30, 2003. US officials allege that she was seized on July 17, 2008 by Afghan security forces in the Ghazni Province while in possession of documents, including formulas for explosives and chemical weapons." (Press TV; 19Feb10)

Royal Thai and U.S. Marines reunite for joint CBRN training
"More than 50 Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) service members from the Royal Thai Navy, Marines, Airforce and 19 U.S. Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) reunited and exchanged CBRN knowledge and tactics, Feb. 3-10, as part of Cobra Gold 2010 (CG '10). 'This was our second year working together,' said Staff Sgt. Marco Flores, 31st MEU CBRN chief. The training began with Royal Thai service members attending classroom instruction on proper equipment procedures, techniques for donning and clearing field protective masks. [...] During the six-day training evolution, Royal Thai and U.S. service members not only demonstrated their abilities and methods on decontaminat[ing] equipment and personnel, but were able to identify areas [for] improvement." (U.s. Marine Corps News; 19Feb10; LCpl Michael Bianco) http://www.marines.mil/unit/31stmeu/Pages/RoyalThaiandUSMarinesReuniteforCBRNTraining.aspx

U.S. to pump money into nuke stockpile, increase security
"The United States intends to boost funding for maintaining its nuclear stockpile while stepping up its nuclear deterrent, a top U.S. official said during the Second Annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Virginia. 'As you know, President Obama's budget devotes $7 billion for maintaining our nuclear-weapons stockpile and complex,' U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, told the summit. 'That's a $600 million increase. And over the next five years we intend to boost funding for these important activities by more than $5 billion. Now it's up to Congress to do their job to appropriate the money.' [...] She stressed that this funding will enable the United States to 'increase the reliability, safety and security of the nuclear stockpile, to reduce the likelihood that we might resume underground testing, to achieve reductions in the future size of the stockpile, and to reduce the risk of accidental detonation as well as the risk of nuclear terrorism.'" (Ria Novosti; 18Feb10) http://en.rian.ru/world/20100218/157925732.html

Mineta transportation institute releases study on motor carrier hazmat transport theft and its possible use in terrorism
"The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), has published Report 09-03, Potential Terrorist Uses of Highway-Borne Hazardous Materials, which evaluates security risks created by truck-borne hazardous materials, particularly gasoline tankers. The Department of Homeland Security requested the report from MTI's National Transportation Security Center of Excellence (MTI's NTSCOE). MTI has also issued a companion report, MTI Report 09-04, Implementation and Development of Vehicle Tracking and Immobilization Technologies, a study by Brian Michael Jenkins, Bruce Butterworth, and Dr. Frances Edwards. It details specific developments in tracking and immobilization technology that can increase security. 'We consider gasoline tankers, and to a lesser extent, propane tankers to be the most attractive options for terrorists seeking to use highway-borne hazmat because they can create intense fires in public assemblies and residential properties,' said Brian Michael Jenkins, Director of MTI's NTSCOE. 'We strongly urge that DHS, State governments and the industry take a renewed look at flammable liquids and gases as a weapon of opportunity, and at a strategy to improve security measures and technology.'" (Business Wire; 17Feb10) http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view

Workshop to focus on agricultural emergencies [Liberal, KS]
"A seminar aimed at preparing communities for agricultural emergencies will be March 25-26 at the Liberal [KS] Chamber of Commerce. The Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Planning workshop, organized by the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment and Cooperative Extension Service and the Extension Disaster Education Network, will allow individuals involved in agrobusiness and first responders to discuss and develop plans for preventing agriculture emergencies. [...] The workshop will help Seward County and surrounding areas prepare for both natural and man-made disasters that could impact agriculture through lessons, networking and planning exercises. Learning about how the community can work together to fix agricultural problems is a major component to the workshop, [Seward County K-State Extension Director Mike]Hanson said, and a key to minimizing the impacts of an emergency. [...] Hanson said tornadoes, hail, flooding, foreign animal disease and bioterrorism are just some of the potential emergencies that will be covered at the workshop." (Southwest Times; 15Feb10; Christina Maness) http://www.swdtimes.com/article_1828.shtml

For biodefense, U.S. needs closer ties to industry
"The US government needs much closer collaboration with private industry--like the arrangements used in building aircraft carriers and putting men on the moon--in order to improve the nation's medical defenses against biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear threats, says a report from a federal advisory panel. The 33-page report also says the government needs more centralized leadership, perhaps from a White House–level team, to improve medical countermeasures (MCM) against threats like anthrax [bacteria], smallpox [virus], and tularemia [bacteria], as well as radiological weapons. [...] The report, titled 'Optimizing Industrial Involvement with Medical Countermeasure Development,' was prepared by an NBSB [National Biodefense Science Board] subcommittee called the MCM Markets and Sustainability Working Group. The document makes eight recommendation to the government, mostly dealing with more consistent funding, more coordinated leadership, and innovative partnerships with industry." (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy; 15Feb10; Robert Roos) http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/biz-plan/news/feb1110report.html

Authorities increase security at L.A. port complex
"The Sheriff's Department Wednesday announced a new plan to protect the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex from terrorists. The program features a ship bristling with cutting-edge technology, a radiation-detecting helicopter and a dog that can detect chemical and biological weapons. The department, [Sheriff's Department Jack] Ewell said, will work in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard in implementing the new program, which will involve sending teams to board and search ships bound for the port complex. The teams will inspect ships for conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, including 'radiological and chemical/biological devices and their precursors,' Ewell said. 'It [the screening vessel] is equipped with highly advanced radiation and chemical/biological detection equipment, which allows deputies to remotely screen entire ships for weapons of mass destruction materials while they are under way to the port complex,' he said. The equipment can immediately transmit data to the Sheriff's Department's hazardous-materials detail headquarters for further interpretation, Ewell said." (Columbia Broadcasting System; 15Feb10) http://cbs2.com/local/Los.Angeles.Long.2.1484876.html

Y-12 plant considers shrinking high-security area
"The U.S. National Nuclear Security Agency might significantly shrink the size of the secured area used for handling weapon-grade uranium within the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Wednesday. The 'Protected Area' now takes up 150 acres of the complex's total 810 acreage. While the matter remains under consideration, the NNSA proposal would cut its size to 70 acres, according to agency spokesman Steven Wyatt." (Global Security Newswire; 19Feb10) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100218_7045.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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Mineta Transportation Institute reports:

Dr. Frances Edwards did not participate in Report 09-03, Potential Terrorist Uses of Highway-Borne Hazardous Materials. That was written by Jenkins, Butterworth, et al. Dr. Edwards co-authored only the second report, 09-04 Implementation and Development of Vehicle Tracking and Immobilization Technologies. Thanks for posting the correction.