War on Terrorism

Saturday, April 17, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, April 16, 2010

2010 biosecurity conference to feature top Obama administration officials [Chicago, IL]
"The Biosecurity Conference will bring together senior-level government officials, scientists and security professionals to discuss President Obama's strategy to support biotechnology's enormous potential to improve the global quality of life while decreasing the risk of its potential misapplication. This event will be co-located with the 2010 BIO International Convention being held May 3-6 in Chicago, Ill. [...] Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the Department of Health and Human Services, will lead the plenary session." (Thomas Net News; 16Apr10)

Abbott begins biopreparedness evaluation programme with state public health labs [Salt Lake City, UT]
"Abbott [Laboratories] announced that the Utah Department of Health (UDH) is one of five sites in the United States to participate in Abbott's new PLEX-ID Biopreparedness Evaluation Programme (BPEP), which involves Abbott, the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and five state public health labs. The programme's goal is to assist public health authorities in identifying and characterizing a wide range of microorganisms in surveillance activities for infectious diseases, food safety analysis and biodefense readiness by demonstrating the unique properties of Abbott's PLEX-ID system. [...] In addition to Utah, the evaluation programme will be conducted at state public health laboratories in Oklahoma, Minnesota, New York and Virginia. Currently intended for surveillance use only, PLEX-ID is the only high-throughput technology that offers rapid and broad identification, detailed genotyping, and characterization and recognition of emerging organisms." (Pharma Biz; 16Apr10) http://www.pharmabiz.com/article/detnews.asp?articleid=55010

Anthrax [bacteria] killing sterilant now EPA approved
"It has been nine years since the 2001 anthrax [spore] attacks sickened twenty-three people and killed five. Since that time, the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in remediation and billions in their search for a disinfectant that can reliably kill anthrax spores and other pathogens that might be used as weapons. The search is over. sBioMed(r), a self funded biotechnology firm located in Orem, Utah, has been recently awarded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval of STERIPLEX(r) Ultra for anthrax spore decontamination, the world's most deadly biological agent." (Earth Times; 15Apr10) http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/anthrax-killing-sterilant-now-epa-approved,1251604.shtml

Walpole board of health to redraft biotech regulations [MA]
"Walpole Board of Health members vowed Tuesday night to redraft the proposed biotechnology regulations to address some concerns after hearing from residents at a pubic hearing. However, few townspeople in attendance felt comforted enough to welcome in biosafety level 3 work in their community. Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, a biotech manufacturing company on Coney Street, is looking to turn out products in the future that would require work with materials classified as biosafety level 3 – exotic agents that can be spread through the air that can cause serious or lethal infection. Siemens has built a level 3 containment facility, but has only worked with less hazardous materials classified in levels 1 and 2, according to senior director Michael Canary. [...] Board of Health members said there are currently no biotech regulations in town, meaning biotech companies can operate as they please on any level. Chairman William Morris said his board is trying to set up protocols so that biotech companies 'run as safely as humanly possible.' In terms of zoning, Economic Development Officer Stephanie Mercandetti said biotech level 1-4 facilities are allowed in town under the category of 'research and testing labs.'" (Walpole Times; 14Apr10; Keith Ferguson) http://www.wickedlocal.com/walpole/news/x1796621700/Walpole-Board-of-Health-to-redraft-biotech-regulations

A new kind of deterrence [discusses tactical response to BW use]
"As part of the Nuclear Posture Review, national security, intelligence and defense officials are in a heated debate within the Obama administration regarding the purpose of America's nuclear arsenal: whether the sole purpose of our nuclear force is to deter nuclear attack or whether it is the primary purpose. If it is the primary purpose, then the nuclear force would also be a deterrent against a biological attack by a nation-state. [...] While calculated ambiguity from the U.S. nuclear arsenal might continue to effectively deter a biological attack from a nation-state, or a nation-state which is harboring a terrorist organization, the $55 billion we spend annually on our nuclear deterrence force is useless confronting terrorists. If President Obama wants to eliminate our reliance on nuclear weapons to deter biological weapons, he first must take actions to remove bioterrorism from the category of weapons of mass destruction. To do so before would place the nation at unnecessary risk. [...] Today, we have the option of building a viable biodefense system that could allow a future Nuclear Posture Review to declare that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear force is to deter nuclear attack." (St. Louis Today; 14Apr10; Bob Graham and Jim Talent) http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf

Responders react to mock anthrax [spore] attack [Peoria, AZ]
"Do you know what to do in a case of emergency? Police and firefighters from Peoria and Glendale want to be prepared, so they staged a bio-terrorist event Tuesday night. The training exercise aimed to test all aspects of responding to an emergency, from traffic control, to security, to dispensing medication. [...] The training exercise was held at Peoria Sports Complex and was funded by grants from the Department of Homeland Security." (Fox News; 13Apr10) http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/health/mock-bio-terrorism-attack-4-13-2010

Congressional guidance needed on bioterror
"The federal government's biodefense activities have a pressing need for more coherent and comprehensive oversight by Congress, according to a report released late last week by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). [...] The report, titled Federal Efforts to Address the Threat of Bioterrorism: Selected Issues for Congress, focuses on four areas it calls 'critical to the success of the biodefense enterprise that the 111th Congress is likely to consider: strategic planning; risk assessment; surveillance; and the development, procurement, and distribution of medical countermeasures.'" (Homeland Security Today; 12Apr10; Phil Leggiere) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/12856/149/

Environmental decontamination following a large-scale bioterrorism attack: federal progress and remaining gaps
"The process of environmental decontamination is a key step in a successful response to a large-scale attack involving a biological agent. Costs for the decontamination response following the 2001 anthrax attacks were estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and some facilities could not be reopened for more than 2 years. However, a large-scale biological attack would likely result in an even greater amount of contamination, more areas that need to be cleaned and made safe, and a much greater cost to the American public. This article identifies gaps in decontamination policy and technical practice at the federal level and provides practical recommendations that will better enable the U.S. to undertake a biological decontamination response." (Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science; 07Apr10; Crystal Franco and Nidhi Bouri) http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/resources/publications/2010/pdf/2010-04-07-environmental_decontamination.pdf

Chemical weapons cleanup blast set to go in D.C.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to detonate some World War I-era chemical weapons in the Spring Valley neighborhood remained Wednesday in place as the city dashed to have a public-safety plan ready to go. The detonation remains scheduled for Thursday, as has been the case for weeks. However, residents pushed their better-safe-than-sorry approach to lawmakers, and city officials agreed to come up with a safety plan though it was still being devised late Wednesday afternoon. The corps plans to denote 24 chemical munitions found on federal property in Spring Valley -- home to the embassies of Qatar and South Korea, Sibley Memorial Hospital, the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant and pumping station, Wesley Theological Seminary and American University. The Army conducted research and chemical-weapons testing there during the war. Unexploded military ordnance were found during new construction in the area in 1993, and remediation and cleanup have been ongoing since then." (Washington Times; 15Apr10; Deborah Simmons) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/15/chemical-weapons-cleanup-blast-set-to-go-in-dc/

Army corps finds new WWI chemical site in DC yard
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has uncovered what could be a fourth major disposal area for World War I-era munitions and chemical weapons in the nation's capital. Digging was suspended April 8 as a precaution at the site in the pricey Spring Valley neighborhood near American University after workers pulled smoking glassware from the pit, project manager Dan Noble said Thursday. Preliminary tests show the glassware was contaminated with the toxic chemical arsenic trichloride. Officials will review safety procedures before digging continues. Workers also discovered a jar about three-quarters full of a dark liquid that turned out to be the chemical agent mustard. [...] 'It's a much larger disposal area than we predicted,' Noble said. 'The nature of debris is so different, perhaps it's a different disposal area.'" (Stars and Stripes; 16Apr10; Brett Zongker) http://ap.stripes.com/dynamic/stories/U/US_DC_MUNITIONS_DIG?SITE=DCSAS

Bill proposes life term for illegal dealings in toxic chemicals
"The Chemicals Weapons Convention (Amendment) Bill 2010 provides that anyone held guilty of illegally dealing in toxic chemicals 'shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to term of life and shall also be liable to a fine which may extend to one lakh [100,000] rupees'. [...] The bill amends the Chemical Weapons Convention Act 2000 that came into force in 2005." (Sindh Today; 16Apr10) http://www.sindhtoday.net/news/2/128040.htm

Air-sniffing cellphones could aid chemical-warfare defense
"If the Department of Homeland Security has its way, cellphones will soon do more than transmit calls, GPS information and a host of data from the Web. They'll also monitor the air for toxic substances that could be part of a chemical warfare attack. [...] When a threat is sensed, a warning is delivered in one of two ways. For personal safety issues such as a chlorine gas leak, a warning is sounded; users can choose a vibration, noise, text message or phone call for their alerts. For larger-scale catastrophes, such as a sarin gas attack, details including the time, location and compound are sent to an emergency operations center." (Tech News World; 13Apr10; Katherine Noyes)

S. Korea to share know-how on safe nuclear operations
"South Korea said Tuesday it will set up an education and training center on nuclear security in 2014 to share the country's know-how with the international community in the safe and peaceful operation of nuclear energy. President Lee Myung-bak, attending the Nuclear Security Summit here, also announced that Seoul plans to host the general assembly of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in 2011, a year before the nation hosts the second nuclear summit. U.S. President Barack Obama proposed that South Korea host the next summit and was supported unanimously by other nations. 'In the first plenary session, President Lee explained South Korea's nuclear energy use and its advanced technology on atomic power plants,' Lee's office, Cheong Wa Dae, said in a press release. 'President Lee proposed that the international community actively take advantage of South Korea's information and technology in establishing the management and control system of nuclear and radioactive materials,' Cheong Wa Dae said." (Yonhap News Agency; 13Apr10; Lee Chi-dong) http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/04/13/2/0301000000AEN20100413005400315F.HTML

Ukraine to give up nuke material; boost for summit
"President Barack Obama optimistically opened a 47-nation nuclear summit Monday, boosted by Ukraine's announcement that it will give up its weapons-grade uranium. [...] Ukraine's decision dovetailed with Obama's goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide within four years -- an objective that the White House hopes will be endorsed by all summit countries at a closing session Tuesday, even if the means to accomplish it are unclear. The fear is that terrorists or a nation other than the major nuclear powers could obtain crucial ingredients and inflict horrendous damage. Before formally opening the summit with a reception and working dinner, Obama held a series of one-on-one meetings with leaders from China, Jordan, Ukraine, Armenia and Malaysia. Presidential aides billed the summit as the largest gathering of world leaders hosted by an American president since the 1945 conference in San Francisco that founded the United Nations. [...] Ukraine, which gave a major boost to arms control in 1994 when it agreed to surrender the nuclear weapons it inherited in the collapse of the Soviet Union, agreed to get rid of its weapons-grade fuel by 2012, according to the White House." (Associated Press; 13Apr10; Robert Burns) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeq

Official: Terrorists seek nuclear material, but lack ability to use it
"The president's top counterterrorism adviser says there is indisputable evidence that dozens of terrorist groups have sought weapons of mass destruction. But a U.S. intelligence official who is not authorized to speak for attribution said although al Qaeda clearly wants a nuclear weapons capability, it hasn't gotten very far. 'At this point, they don't appear to have made much progress, but we continue to review every bit of information that comes in to determine whether they've advanced their efforts in any way whatsoever,' said the official. 'Developing a nuclear device involves a highly sophisticated technical process, and al Qaeda doesn't seem to have mastered it based on what we know now.' [...] At a briefing kicking off President Obama's nuclear security summit on Monday, presidential adviser John Brennan said al Qaeda in particular has been actively trying to acquire a nuclear weapon for the past 15 years. 'Al Qaeda is especially notable for its longstanding interest in weapons [of] useable nuclear material and the requisite expertise that would allow it to develop a yield-producing improvised nuclear device,' said Brennan." (Cable News Network; 13Apr10; Pam Benson) http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/13/nuclear.terrorists/?hpt=Sbin

Criminals con Qaeda with bogus nuclear material
"Criminal gangs have duped al-Qaeda with offers of bogus nuclear material, hampering the group's efforts to build a nuclear bomb that would allow them to 'threaten world order,' the White House said on Monday. 'There have been numerous reports over the past eight or nine years of attempts to obtain various types of purported material,' John Brennan, President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, told reporters. 'We know al-Qaeda has been involved a number of times. We know they have been scammed a number of times,' Brennan said on the sidelines of a 47-nation summit aimed at preventing nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists." (Arab Times; 13Apr10) http://www.arabtimesonline.com/NewsDe

Cold war nuclear fears now apply to terrorists
"The top secret National Intelligence Estimate did not mince words. The United States faced an enemy with 'no scruples about employing any weapon or tactic,' it said, and nuclear weapons smuggled across porous borders threatened to devastate American cities. Sleeper cells, the document warned, might already be inside the country. [...] Hundreds of pages of declassified documents from the 1950s, obtained by The New York Times from the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, lay out a strikingly familiar story, in which Communist agents played the role of today's Al Qaeda." (New York Times; 15Apr10; Scott Shane) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/world/16memo.html?src=mv

PM moots N[uclear]-energy partnership, warns against non-state actors
"Demonstrating India's responsible behaviour, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced setting up of a 'Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership' for conducting research and development of design systems that are secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable. With Pakistan obviously on his mind, he also warned of the dangers posed by nuclear explosives falling into the hands of non-state actors posing danger to India and other countries. Addressing the Summit convened by Obama here, Singh said the Centre will consist of four Schools dealing with Advanced Nuclear Energy System Studies, Nuclear Security, Radiation Safety and application of Radioisotopes and Radiation Technology in areas of healthcare, agriculture and food. The Centre is visualised to be a state-of-the-art facility based on international participation from IAEA and other interested foreign partners. It will conduct research and development of design systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable, the Prime Minister told leaders from 47 countries." (Zee News; 14Apr10) http://www.zeenews.com/news618848.html

Next steps on nuclear safety: enforcement, enforcement, enforcement
"Later today [13 April 2010], the Washington Nuclear Security Summit will conclude by issuing a communique pledging to concentrate the international mind around President Obama's goal of securing all separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium within four years, in order to prevent nuclear terrorism. It won't be released until it's released, of course. But it's going to promise dedicated national action by 47 countries participating in the summit, rather than empowering international agencies to take control of each nation's plutonium or uranium supplies. So what comes after this week's summit for nuclear security? Enforcement, principally. 'The summit is a forcing mechanism,' said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuke expert at the New America Foundation who blogs at Arms Control Wonk. 'It causes states to do things for a while.' The communique will make those 'things' clearer, but the contours are already taking shape: States will take increasing steps to shore up their legal and regulatory frameworks to keep track of civilian or military nuclear stockpiles. And, especially, they'll shore up their export controls to ensure government officials keep track of what nuclear materials or components travel across their borders -- or, in the case of Malaysia, which didn't have any before yesterday (though perhaps not because of the summit), they'll put those controls in place. That's crucial for tracking international proliferation: A.Q. Khan, the world's most notorious proliferator, used Malaysia as a hub for shipping centrifuges to nations like Libya, since they'd drop off the grid once shipped." (Washington Independent; 13Apr10; Spencer Ackerman) http://washingtonindependent.com/82071/next-steps-on-nuclear-safety-enforcement-enforcement-enforcement

Signing of the megaports agreement
"[Excerpted from statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,] 'This launches a cooperative effort between the United States and Argentina to prevent the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials. This pact paves the way for our government to work with Argentine customs, to install radiation detection equipment, and associated infrastructure at the Port of Buenos Aires.' [...] [Excerpted from statement by Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Enrique Taiana,] 'I think that it is also good recognition of the level of some of our ports, particularly Port of Buenos Aires, Dock Sud, and Campana, that are the two ports that are contemplated in this agreement. And it's not only a way to fight illegal nuclear trafficking, but also it's a way to improve our trade and the dynamism and work of our ports.'" (U.S. Department Of State; 13Apr10) http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/04/140130.htm

Europeans bring own nuclear security concerns to washington summit
"European leaders and officials are among the attendees at this week's nuclear security summit in Washington. DW talked to two experts about possible topics and demands relating specifically to European nuclear security. Anthony Seaboyer, a transatlantic relations and security expert at the German Council for Foreign Relations, and Richard Gowan, a European security and defense expert at the European Council for Foreign Relations, talked to Deutsche Welle about Europe's involvement at the summit. [...] What are Europe's main nuclear security concerns? Seaboyer: Due to their proximity to the region, the cycle of prolifereation and nuclear instability in Iran and the Middle East is Europe's biggest concern, along with nuclear terrorism. But while both the EU and US have nuclear terrorism as a major threat in their security strategies, the Europeans make the distinction that it is a potential threat, while the Americans consider it a real one." (Deutsche Welle; 13Apr10; Nick Amies) http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5457279,00.html

Scientists see potential shield against bioterror weapon ricin
"Researchers in France said on Thursday they had found two possible compounds that could protect against ricin, a naturally-occurring poison used in murder and political assassinations and eyed as a bioterror weapon. The two molecules allowed lab-dish cells to survive the assaults of ricin, as well as so-called Shiga-like toxins that are made by the bacterium Escherichia coli. [...] Dubbed Retro-1 and Retro-2, the compounds were found by a team led by Daniel Gillet of France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) during a screen of 16,500 chemical candidates. 'We gave one of the compounds to lab mice and then gave the mice ricin, and found they were protected,' Gillet told AFP. 'There is no protection if you give the poison first followed by the compound.'" (Agence France Presse; 15Apr10) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jW19mG0dTlsVh8toNS1AHfdkIkrA

Readout of [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Napolitano’s tour of container security initiative operations at the port of Barcelona
"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today visited Barcelona, Spain, to tour Container Security Initiative (CSI) operations and meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at the Barcelona seaport to view firsthand CBP's close working partnerships with Spanish customs officials to efficiently protect high-risk U.S.-bound cargo against terrorist threats. 'The international threat of terrorism requires global action, collaboration and innovation to ensure our mutual security and defend against terrorists,' said Secretary Napolitano. 'CSI plays a critical role in DHS' ongoing efforts to protect against terrorists who seek to bring harmful devices and materials into the United States through the global supply chain.' [...] Since 2006, CBP officials have worked closely with their Spanish counterparts at the Barcelona seaport--the third most active port in the Spanish Mediterranean--to establish security criteria for identifying and screening high-risk containers before they are shipped to the United States." (Department of Homeland Security; 10Apr10) http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1270913842845.shtm

U.U. terror targets unprotected, according to former CIA official [Charles S. Faddis]
"'Amazingly...as you tour this nation and examine the prime targets that beg to be defended from terrorist attack, what you find, eight years later, is that virtually nothing meaningful has been done,' [Former CIA operative, Charles S.] Faddis writes. [...] For his new book, Faddis spent months on reconnaissance missions to likely terror targets in U.S.: dams, rail lines, military bases, biological research labs and nuclear, chemical and liquid natural gas plants. He roamed along fences, visited authorized areas and otherwise tested security measures. [...] At a suburban office park in Maryland, he discovered that a biological laboratory full of deadly viruses didn't have guards, gates, fences or security cameras likes those he found at a nearby bank." (ProPublica; 15Apr10; Sebastian Rotella) http://www.propublica.org/article/us-terror-targets-unprotected-according-former-cia-official

Hazmat exercise simulates terror[ist] attack [Pensacola, FL]
"First responders from NAS [Naval Air Station] Pensacola practice handling a terrorist attack. Several teams worked together to make sure they're ready for anything. It's practice scenarios that will make sure they're ready if an emergency is to happen. The scenario: A suspicious package was found at the post office. It was opened and white powder flew everywhere. 'This is a chemical, biological, nuclear exercise.' said Scott Halford with NAS Pensacola. [...] Hazmat crews didn't know what they were dealing with, so they had to test for everything. [...] If anyone was within a hundred yards of the building, they were in what was considered the hotzone. They had to be decontaminated, then be taken to either a hospital or medical personnel on the scene." (Fox News; 13Apr10; Christina Leavenworth) http://www.fox10tv.com/dpp/news/HAZMAT-exercise-simulates-terror-attack

Canada to ship enriched uranium to U.S.
"Canada has agreed to ship an 11-year stockpile of highly enriched uranium back to the United States out of concern the spent fuel could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to produce a nuclear weapon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday. Seeking to burnish Canada's reputation with President Barack Obama on the opening day of a global summit on arms control, Harper said the world faced an 'immediate threat' from nuclear terrorism unless nations moved to secure supplies of bomb-grade uranium. The deal will result in supplies of spent inventories of uranium at the Chalk River Laboratories, northwest of Ottawa, being shipped to the United States over an eight-year period, starting this year. 'While all of this material is obviously highly secure in Canada, this was highly enriched uranium (that) originated in the United States,' Harper said at a news conference after his arrival for the two-day meeting in Washington. 'It's our view that the best thing for all countries to do -- not just ourselves -- is to return such material to their countries or origin.' He added: 'The best defence is to store nuclear material in conditions of maximum security.'" (Calgary Herald; 12Apr10; Sheldon Alberts) http://www.calgaryherald.com/Canada ship enriched uranium/2901218/story.html

MIT Professional Institute Summer Course:
Pandemics and Bioterrorism: From Realistic Threats to Effective Policies [PI17.60s]
July 26-28, 2010
Swine flu is only the most recent of the challenges posed by threats of bioterrorism and global pandemics. Yet public health and security agencies evaluate these risks through their own professional norms and organizational cultures. MIT experts and affiliates explore the obstacles to policy implementation and strategies to overcome them.

For further information please contact Lynne Levine at llevine@mit.edu.

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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