War on Terrorism

Friday, May 21, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, May 21, 2010

Biological warfare tests by British WW2 scientists revealed in secret files
"Cholera, dysentery, typhoid and foot-and-mouth disease were all trialled as potential weapons of war, according to previously secret files released to the National Archives. The list revealed in the new documents demonstrates the breadth of the British research into biological weapons during the conflict, which was already known to have included experiments with anthrax [spores]. Experts recognised that 'biological warfare' was against the 1925 Geneva protocol, but still carried out a number of tests, the majority of them at Porton Down, near Salisbury, and Pirbright in Surrey. They gave reports to the War Cabinet's Porton experiments subcommittee, which recognised that 'bacteriological warfare' was against the 1925 Geneva protocol, The Guardian reported. The minutes were classified as 'secret' and 'to be kept under lock and key'. The use of biological weapons was not seen as 'likely to achieve a decisive effect' but preparation was thought to be necessary in order to defend against similar enemy attacks and as a 'means of retaliation'." (Telegraph; 17May10; Nick Collins) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7732442/Biological-warfare-tests-by-British-WW2-scientists-revealed-in-secret-files.html

Complex building project [new disease control laboratory in Saskatchewan]
"The $55.5-million Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory, which officially opens today, not only boasts the single-largest building permit ever issued by the City of Regina, but is probably the most complex building of its kind in the province. [...] A 2.5-megawatt emergency power system ensures the continued operation of the laboratory at about 90-per-cent capacity in the event of a power failure for up to 48 hours, he added. Security, of course, is paramount at a facility that routinely handles and tests for infectious diseases, viruses, pathogens, toxins and other contaminants. The only access the public has to the building is a corridor off the main entrance. 'It's monitored 24-7,'' said Dr. Greg Horsman, medical director of the laboratory. The building structure itself is built to withstand vibration, especially the room in the basement of the laboratory that houses the electron microscope. [...] In fact, the Saskatchewan lab is closely based on one in Richmond, Va., which combines a public health lab and the bio-terrorism unit for the U.S. Eastern seaboard. 'This lab is equivalent to anything at the CDC (Centre for Disease Control [sic] in Atlanta). This is comparable to any public health lab anywhere in the world, if not better.' [,said James Youck, an architect with P3 Architects in Regina]" (Leader-Post; 19May10; Bruce Johnstone) http://www.leaderpost.com/entertainment/Complex building project/3041479/story.html

Protalix Biotherapeutics receives research grant of up to $4.1 million from the Israeli government's Office of the Chief Scientist
"Protalix BioTherapeutics, Inc., announced today that the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) of Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor has awarded the Company a grant of up to $4.1 million for calendar year 2010. The OCS awarded the grant to the Company to promote the advancement of the Company's drug development programs. The terms of the grant provide that up to $2.9 million of the funds awarded are to be used for the advancement of the Company's early-stage pipeline product candidates, including acetylcholinesterase (AChE), PRX-102, pr-antiTNF, and three undisclosed compounds in development. AChE, an anti-organophosphate nerve agent in development for biodefense applications, which had shown promising efficacy data in a number of animal studies, is currently the subject of a phase I clinical trial in healthy volunteers." (Earth Times News; 17May10) http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/protalix-biotherapeutics-receives-research-grant,1301986.shtml

Concerns over environmental health as experts leave
"Environmental health experts have warned that council cuts to their services could pose a risk to the public's health. Scotland has the highest rate of E. coli infection in the world. The country's leading microbiologist, Prof Hugh Pennington, has said experts are struggling to maintain the fight against the infection. He said: 'Worryingly environmental health now seems to be being driven by HR departments.' Rod House, president of the Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland, said many senior officers were taking early retirement as councils seek to reduce their wage bills, yet fewer trainees are being appointed. Professor Pennington, who has chaired two public inquiries into major outbreaks of E.coli O157, said he was concerned about the number of experienced personnel being lost due to budget cuts. He said that this, in turn, would reduce the essential experience required to effectively deal with major public health outbreaks like E. coli O157, anthrax and H1N1 (swine flu)." (British Broadcasting Corporation; 21May10) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/8694089.stm

Growing public interest in genetic science sparks some bio-security concerns
"When it comes to the knowledge and tools required to launch a bio-terrorism attack, the 'genie is out of the bottle,' experts have warned. The know-how, the equipment and the laboratories needed to genetically manipulate DNA is 'out there,' and the building blocks that could be used to make these potentially devastating diseases occur in nature. There is no need to enrich uranium or stockpile tightly regulated chemicals. Anthrax [spores], for example, could be found in a cow pasture. Now, a growing movement of hobbyists who are carrying out biology experiments in garages, basements and community labs has drawn some interest from the FBI. There have not been any cases of these amateur scientists doing anything illegal, but the potential is there, said one agent. 'We're looking at advances in technologies,' said Edward H. You, supervisory special agent at the FBI's weapons of mass destruction directorate. 'That barrier to do various acts -- and even just cause mischief -- is getting lower and lower and lower, so that risk is growing.'" (National Defense Magazine; 21May10; Stew Magnuson) http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2010/Ju

Cedar Rapids firefighters train for biological attack
"Not real, but realistic. That was the goal for Cedar Rapids Firefighter staging a full scale drill for a biological attack on Friday. About one third of the entire fire department suited up for a mock anthrax attack [sic] at the main Cedar Rapids Post Office. And firefighters were joined by police, Linn County Emergency Management, Iowa National Guard and other state and federal agencies that would get the call for any biological threat. Most in the public don't think about the anthrax scare that gripped the nation in the early 2000's with potentially deadly powder mailed to public figures in envelopes. Aside from the occasional false alarm involving 'suspicious powder,' the fear has largely faded. But first responders can't afford to forget. When the original anthrax attacks [sic] began in 2001, Cedar Rapids Firefighters didn't have a lot of specialized equipment use in response. Battalion Chief Greg Smith recalled his inventory then as some pump sprayers, a little bleach and other equipment that would fit in the back of a van." (American Broadcasting Company (KCRG); 14May10; Dave Franzman) http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/93807099.html

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: policies and procedures for preparing public health products should be strengthened [Government Accounting Office report]
"In brief, we found that the policies and procedures that ATSDR has established for public health product preparation lack some of the critical controls to provide reasonable assurance of product quality. To provide reasonable assurance that agency objectives are being met, federal internal control standards call for agencies to establish policies and procedures, assess risks associated with achieving agency objectives, ensure effective information sharing throughout the organization, monitor agency activities, and establish key areas of authority and responsibility for management and staff. We found that ATSDR's policies and procedures are deficient in the three phases of preparation of public health products: (1) initiation, which includes a decision by the agency to begin work on a public health product and the assignment of staff to prepare the product; (2) development, which includes management approval to proceed with the development of a product and the actual drafting of the public health product; and (3) review and clearance, which is the process by which a product is internally or externally reviewed and disseminated as a final public health product." (Government Accountability Office; 20May10) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10741t.pdf

Obama [Administration] still without envoy for major arms control pact [Chemical Weapons Convention]
"The United States has gone nearly 18 months without an ambassador to the international organization that monitors compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. The absence threatens to hurt U.S. standing with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], where in two years the Obama administration will have to explain why the United States missed the deadline for disposal of banned warfare materials, experts said. 'We're going to get such a black eye if we don't have the right representation there [soon],' said Eric Javits, who from 2003 to 2009 served as U.S. ambassador to the organization in The Hague, Netherlands. The United States is running the risk of being 'entirely bare' on OPCW representation once the last of his former staff departs at the end of June, Javits told Global Security Newswire. This is especially problematic, he said, as the treaty deadline for the elimination of the U.S. chemical arsenal -- April 29, 2012 -- is fast approaching. Washington will need an experienced and knowledgeable mission staff to address complaints and concerns from other nations about the missed target date, Javits said." (Global Security Newswire; 21May10; Rachel Oswald) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100520_4879.php

Iraqi technicians dismantling Hussein's nuclear plants
"The shell of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's efforts to produce a nuclear bomb is being slowly dismantled along the banks of the Tigris River, but its radioactive legacy lingers on. The Tuwaitha research complex, about 18 kilometers (11 miles) southeast of Baghdad, was bombed by Israel in its 1981 airstrike on Iraq's Tammuz 1 research reactor. It was bombed again during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, and it was looted extensively after the 2003 U.S. invasion that ousted Hussein. Now, engineers and technicians are working to dismantle the laboratories and equipment at the site, but the extensive contamination left behind complicates their work. 'It is difficult because of the destruction,' said Anwar Ahmed, the project manager at Tuwaitha. 'This facility was bombed in 1991. Now, finally the decision was made to decommission all the destroyed facilities.' Workers and visitors have to wear protective suits and masks around the facility, where about 20 people are at work so far. Iraq's ministry of Science and Technology said it is training more specialists to decommission the facility, but acknowledged the cleanup could take decades." (Cable News Network; 19May10; Frederik Pleitgen and Yousif Bassil) http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/05/16/iraq.nuclear.legacy/

South Africa prepares radiation defenses
"South Africa has prepared lasting defenses against terrorist attacks involving a nuclear weapon or radiological 'dirty bomb' as it gears up for the World Cup soccer tournament, a senior official told lawmakers this week. Energy Department Deputy Director General Tseliso Maqubela said that work is being conducted with international organizations. The efforts cover entry points into the country and facilities as part of the program to prevent weapons materials from being brought into South Africa, the Cape Argus newspaper reported. The World Cup, scheduled to begin in June, has 'a risk of radiation,' Maqubela said. 'You have some of these groups -- terrorists and some who want to cause sensation -- who then attach a radioactive source to an explosive and basically this is referred to as a 'dirty bomb.'' He added: 'It is not the impact of the bomb that causes the concern, but ... mainly the sensationalism that accompanies such a (bomb), because then people fear the radiation more than the impact of the explosives.'" (Global Security Newswire; 21May10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100521_7269.php

Anti-terrorism drill at [California State University - San Marcos]
"Public safety agencies from throughout San Diego County took part Tuesday in a mock dirty bomb response drill in San Marcos in conjunction with the statewide 'Golden Guardian' terrorism readiness exercise. As part of the exercise at Cal State University San Marcos, hazardous materials teams, law enforcement and fire department personnel and a medical strike team practiced decontaminating a radiological incident and treated mock patients in the field. Area hospitals and clinics were also involved to test their ability to respond to a mass casualty incident involving trauma, burns and radiation exposure and detection, according to the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services [OES]. 'Since 9/11, our region has developed and refined terrorism response plans, conducted training and purchased equipment to better prepare us in the event of an attack,' said OES Director Ron Lane. 'Today's exercise is the culmination of those efforts and validates the preparedness of every agency involved in the exercise.'" (San Diego 6 (TV); 19May10) http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/story/Anti-Terrorism-Drill-at-Cal-State-San-Marcos/xrpaV2aTzkm181FcoaCjmA.cspx

Nuclear terror[ism] drill held in Los Angeles [CA]
"The FBI Tuesday conducted the second day of what it says will be a three-day nuclear terrorism exercise in Los Angeles. The exercise that began Monday involves a team of state, local and national agencies dealing with an improvised nuclear bomb planted at the landmark Los Angeles Coliseum. 'Threats involving weapons of mass destruction are complex, and confronting them must be practiced constantly,' Assistant Director Steve Martinez, the head of the FBI office in Los Angeles, said. The FBI says in a written statement the scenario involves finding not only the bomb, but also secondary devices in Los Angeles. Once located, the 'bomb' will be disabled and hauled away to a safe location. A plot twist includes the detonation of another device in another pat of the United States, the FBI said." (United Press International; 18May10) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/05/18/Nuclear-terror-drill-held-in-Los-Angeles/UPI-29401274226048/

UN atomic chief [International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya] Amano warns that nuclear accidents may rise
"Nuclear accidents may occur more often as atomic technology spreads and countries build more reactors, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said. 'Member states are considering the introduction of nuclear power plants,' Amano said during a May 14 interview in his 28th-floor office overlooking Vienna. 'We cannot exclude accidents. If there are more, we have certain risks.' The IAEA expects as many as 25 nations to start developing nuclear-power facilities by 2030. The total global investment in building new atomic plants is about $270 billion, the Arlington, Virginia-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change said on Feb. 17. Interest in nuclear power is growing at the fastest rate since the Three Mile Island accident in the U.S. in 1979 and the Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine in 1986, IAEA statistics show. The additional uranium resources needed to power the reactors may create security hazards for which the public must prepare, said Amano, [...] 'We have the problem of nuclear security and nuclear terrorism,' he said. People need to understand that 'if such an incident takes place, they will be exposed to radiation.'" (Bloomberg; 17May10; Jonathan Tirone)

Witness: classrooms and cakes: such is war with Iran [war game]
"Iran's 'supreme leader' and the 'commander' of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas go wide-eyed at their orders to launch a sneak attack on Tel Aviv. Then the two war gamers -- in fact, Israeli ex-generals -- scoff in gruff Hebrew, dismissing the scenario as nonsense. So begins Israel's latest simulation of a face-off with a nuclear Iran: dissent about the very premise promising a lively spiral of events but, arguably, limited real-world advice. Teams playing 20 countries, coalitions and militias work through the 'crisis', cooped up in their 'headquarters' -- flag-marked classrooms in the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), a balmy university campus at Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. Their script calls for Tehran to have declared itself a nuclear power in 2011 and includes a surprise missile salvo by Iranian ally Hezbollah against Israel's Defense Ministry. [...] the IDC meeting lasts 6 hours and features just two core scenarios -- the Hezbollah salvo and revelations that the guerrillas got Iranian nuclear materials for a 'dirty bomb'. Gardiner's caveat about candor appears confirmed when Eitan Ben-Eliahu, a former air force chief playing the Israeli defense minister, speaks elliptically of Israel's 'alleged' nuclear arms. He surely knows the truth about this assumed, secret arsenal." (Thomson Reuters; 19May10; Dan Williams)

Beijing Olympics beat terror[ism] threats, unsafe sex: [Chinese-United Nations] report
"Security forces dealt with several potential biological, chemical and explosive attacks, including an incident in which packages containing white powder were sent to five unidentified embassies in Beijing, the report said. Tests later proved the powder was harmless, a Beijing Health Bureau official said, adding that information about the previously unpublicized scare had come from 'anti-terrorism' security forces. The other episodes involved plans by 'overseas terrorists' to target Olympic venues, explosives on a plane at Beijing airport and rumors of an explosion on the metro, the report said, without giving further details. 'The Health Legacy of the 2008 Olympic Games,' launched by the World Health Organization and the Beijing Olympic City Development Organization, assessed the long-term impact of the Beijing Games and drew lessons for future mass events. The comprehensive survey touches on everything from terror[ism] threats to problems keeping bacteria out of water pipes, the difficult struggle with Beijing's often smoggy air, and sexual health in the Olympic village." (Thomson Reuters; 19May10; Emma Graham-Harrison)

Chem-bio defense budgets set to increase in coming years
The Obama administration has made no secret of its support of chemical and biological defense programs. The Defense Department in its fiscal 2011 budget requested $1.5 billion for chem-bio defense programs -- $370 million for procurement, $812 million for advanced development and $396 million for science and technology. 'That shows continued commitment to these programs,' said John Harvey, principal deputy for the assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs. Chem-bio defense programs over the next five years are poised to grow from $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has directed the department to rebalance its capabilities to support six key missions. One of the missions is countering weapons of mass destruction, Harvey noted." (National Defense Magazine; 21May10; Grace V. Jean) http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2010/June/Page

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.

No comments: