Below the headlines: CBW matters (3)

(A weekly digest from the internet on chemical and biological warfare issues. Emphasis is on incidents and perspectives, but inclusion of an item does not equal endorsement or agreement with the contents. This issue covers items collected between 27 February – 5 March 2017.)

Assassination of Kim Jong-Nam

Poisoning

Chemical warfare in Syria

  • Document: Text of draft resolution condemning use of chlorine in Syrian civil war.
  • Russia: Don’t Veto Sanctions for Syria Chemical Attacks (Human Rights Watch, 27 February 2017): Russia and other United Nations Security Council members should support a proposed resolution that would impose sanctions on Syrian government officials responsible for chemical attacks, Human Rights Watch said.
  • Russia pledges to veto UN sanctions resolution on Syria (Edith M. Lederer, 28 February 2017): Russia pledged to veto a Western-backed U.N. resolution Tuesday that would impose sanctions on 21 Syrian individuals, organizations and companies allegedly involved in chemical weapons attacks in the war-ravaged country.
  • Russia and U.S. Clash Over Syria in Security Council Vote (Somini Sengupta, 28 February 2017): Russia and the Trump administration clashed in a vote at the United Nations Security Council for the first time on Tuesday, as the Kremlin vetoed a measure backed by the United States and its Western allies to punish Syria for using chemical weapons.
  • Russia, China veto at U.N. on Syria chemical weapons is ‘outrageous,’ U.S. says (Karen DeYoung, 28 February 2017): The Trump administration accused Russia and China of “outrageous and indefensible” action Tuesday after they vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have imposed new sanctions on Syria for using chemical weapons against its own citizens.
  • Putin says draft U.N. resolution to sanction Syria ‘inappropriate’ (Reuters, 28 February 2017): Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday a draft U.N. Security Council resolution put forward by Western powers to sanction Syria’s government over the alleged use of chemical weapons was inappropriate because it would undermine trust in the negotiating process.
  • Syria war: Russia and China veto sanctions (BBC, 1 March 2017): Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.
  • The U.S. should use its leverage on Syria (Opinion, 1 March 2017): President Trump’s relations with, and intentions toward, the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin remain troublingly opaque. So it was a pleasant surprise on Tuesday when his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, excoriated Moscow for blocking action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for its illegal use of chemical weapons.
  • Double Veto Prevents Security Council from Adopting Draft Resolution Intended to Impose Sanctions for Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria (ReliefWeb, 1 March 2017): Report of actions and statements.
  • Surprise Surprise: MSM Ignores What UN Report on Syrian Gas Attack Actually Said (Sputnik News, 1 March 2017): On Tuesday, Russia and China vetoed a resolution proposing tougher sanctions against Syria, based in part on a recent OPCW-UN report on the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons in 2014 and 2015. Asked to comment, respected security analyst Charles Shoebridge pointed out that most media didn’t even seem to bother reading the report.
  • US Sponsors New Sanctions Against Syria At UN Security Council (Brandon Turbeville, 2 March 2017): In a draft initiated and supported by the United States, U.K., and France, a plan was put forward to impose new sanctions on the Syrian government in the form of a ban on all shipments of helicopters to the army or the government. The draft resolution received nine votes, the minimum necessary for passing such a document. However, both the Russians and the Chinese as well as the Bolivians vetoed the measure with Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Ethiopia abstaining.
  • UN watchdog examines 8 alleged gas attacks in Syria this year (AFP, 4 March 2017): The OPCW is examining allegations of eight toxic gas attacks in Syria since the beginning of this year, according to a report released today.

Chemical warfare in Iraq

CBW threats

CBW disarmament

Victims of chemical warfare

  • VX survivor recalls brush with Aum assassin in ’95 (AP & Kyodo, 25 February 2017): Before killing about a dozen commuters and sickening 6,300 in Tokyo with evaporating sarin, Aum had tried using VX on at least three people. One, whom the cult suspected was a police informant, was killed.

Preparedness

  • Emergency Drill Tests Anthrax Response (Tapinto Flemington-Raritan Staff, 2 March 2017): The county conducted a drill recently to test its response to an emergency such as an anthrax attack.

Biosecurity

  • Are Biosafety Failures the New Norm? (Saskia V. Popescu, 23 February 2017): Perhaps one of the most poignant points to take away from the recent CDC BSL-4 closure is that even industrialized and well-supported countries such as the United States can struggle with biosecurity and biosafety. If major countries struggle, where does that leave smaller or struggling countries in terms of securing their work with deadly pathogens?

Dual-use research and ethics

Human experiments

  • Worse Than Tuskegee (Sushma Subramanian, 26 February 2017): Seventy years ago, American researchers infected Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea, then left without treating them. Their families are still waiting for help.
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About JP Zanders

Jean Pascal Zanders (Belgium) has worked on questions of chemical and biological weapon (CBW) armament and disarmament since 1986. He was CBW Project Leader at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Director of the BioWeapons Prevention Project and Senior Research Fellow responsible for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation questions at the European Union Institute for Security Studies. He now owns and runs The Trench.

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