Category Archives: Biological

Below the headlines: CBW matters (22)

(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 10 – 16 July 2017.)

CBW disarmament

Scientists Review Innovative Technologies for Chemical Security (OPCW, 7 July 2017): The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) discussed the potential uses innovative scientific and technological tools in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at a workshop “Innovative Technologies for Chemical Security”, held from 3 to 5 July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Triggering Article VII of the BTWC (Jean Pascal Zanders, 10 July 2017):Last November, during the 8th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) organised a tabletop exercise on the implementation of the BTWC’s Article VII, which provides for emergency assistance in case a State Party Party has been exposed to danger as a result of a treaty violation. (Full report) Choosing a new OPCW head (by Andreas Persbo, 11 July 2017): On Thursday this week, seven candidates hoping to replace Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü will present their candidacies to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). They have been asked by Ambassador Sheikh Mohammed Belal, the chair of the Executive Council, to focus on two pertinent questions: the priorities and future challenges of the OPCW and the management of the Secretariat itself. OPCW endorses plan for the destruction of chemical weapons on San José Island, Panama (Panama, 14 July 2017): Members of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) endorsed the plan submitted by the Republic of Panama for the destruction of eight (8) abandoned chemical munitions located on San José Island. The operation will take place in the last quarter of 2017.

US to destroy chemical weapons from World War Two it left behind in Panama read more

Triggering Article VII of the BTWC

More complex than imagined

Last November, during the 8th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) organised a tabletop exercise on the implementation of the BTWC’s Article VII, which provides for emergency assistance in case a State Party Party has been exposed to danger as a result of a treaty violation.

The Trench has already provided an account of the two-day workshop. read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (21)

(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 3 – 9 July 2017.)

CBW disarmament

  • OPCW Director-General Election (Roy Lie A Tjam, 4 July 2017): Eight Ambassadors are vying for the post of Director General, each of who have been put forward by their respective governments for the post. The candidates come from the following countries: Burkina Faso, Denmark, Hungary, Iraq, Lithuania, Spain, South Korea and Tanzania.
  • OPCW Director-General Calls for Strong Ethics in the Pursuit of Science at Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany (OPCW, 4 July 2017): The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü reflected on the ethical dimension of chemistry during the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on 30 June. During the panel discussion on ethics in science, Ambassador Üzümcü recalled that this year the OPCW marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the establishment of the OPCW. He depicted the challenges and achievements of the two decades of the Organisation’s existence and lauded the Convention as “one of the world’s vanguards against weapons of mass destruction”, which represents today “an essential component of the international legal and security system”.
  • Reinforcing the Global Norm Against Chemical Weapons (Anita E. Friedt, 7 July 2017): Last month, the U.S. Department of State hosted a forum commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) entry into force. The forum, entitled “The Chemical Weapons Convention 1997-2017: Progress, Challenges, and Reinforcing the Global Norm against Chemical Weapons,” brought together current and former government officials, NGO representatives, academia, and industry leaders to examine the progress made during the CWC’s 20-year history, and to discuss strategies to meet ongoing challenges.

Syria

CW elimination

Syria Reaffirms Destruction of Chemical Weapons read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (20)

(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 26 June – 2 July 2017.)

CBW disarmament

  • Russia has destroyed 99% of its chemical weapons – supervising general (RT, 26 June 2017): Russia only has only one percent of its chemical weapons stockpile left. The rest has been destroyed, according to the head of the country’s Federal Administration for the Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, Major General Valery Kapashin. Some “99 percent of the chemical weapons stored in Russia have been destroyed,” the high-ranking official said.

CBW threats

Open Debate on Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction What’s in Blue, 27 June 2017): At the initiative of Bolivia, the Security Council will hold an open debate tomorrow (28 June) on “the global effort to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors.” It will focus on the implementation of resolution 1540 and the work of the 1540 Committee, which is chaired by Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz of Bolivia. Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Joseph Ballard, Senior Officer from the Office of Strategy and Policy of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, are expected to brief the Council. Bolivia will also brief in its capacity as chair of the 1540 Committee. At press time, it appeared that some 60 member states, including Council members, are expected to participate in the meeting. International cooperation key to keeping WMDs away from terrorists, Security Council told (UN News, 28 June 2017) The United Nations disarmament chief today called for stronger international cooperation to prevent terrorists from accessing and using weapons of mass destruction, warning that technological advances – such as unmanned aerial vehicles, 3-D printers and the Dark Web – make it easier for terrorist groups to effectively use such weapons.

UN: Terrorists Using ‘Dark Web’ in Pursuit of WMDs read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (19)

(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 19 – 25 June 2017.)

CBW disarmament

Blue Grass Army Depot one of state’s largest military installations (Kentucky Today, 19 June 2017): Established in 1941, this military installation, covering 14,594 acres, is the state’s third largest. The facility employs over 700 people (60 percent of whom are veterans) and adds $225 million in economic value to Kentucky. Blue Grass Army Depot fulfills a number of critical missions for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense. Contained within the Blue Grass Army Depot is the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, which ensures the safe and secure storage of the installation’s chemical weapons stockpile. The chemical weapons stockpile is housed in 49 earth covered, concrete igloos on 250 acres within the larger Depot. In 1997 the United States signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, agreeing to eliminate all of its chemical weapons and former production facilities. The key mission of the Blue Grass Chemical Activity section stems from that treaty, namely, the safe storage of the chemical stockpile until demilitarization (safe destruction) is complete. U.S. Department of State Hosts Forum on Reinforcing the Global Norm Against Chemical Weapons (Office of the Spokesperson, 20 June 2017): On June 20, the U.S. Department of State hosted a high-level forum entitled, “The Chemical Weapons Convention 1997-2017: Progress, Challenges, and Reinforcing the Global Norm against Chemical Weapons.” Since its entry into force 20 years ago, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)—with 192 States Parties— has verified the destruction of approximately 95 percent of all declared chemical weapons stockpiles, and thereby made a significant contribution to making our world a safer place. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the CWC’s implementing body, has facilitated the destruction of chemical weapons in Albania, China, Iraq, Libya, Russia, Syria, and the United States – among others. Nonetheless, the international community’s work is far from done, and serious challenges remain. Dugway Under Scrutiny Again Over Handling of Deadly Toxins (Richard Sisk, 22 June 2017): The Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which figured in a major scandal on the shipment of live anthrax, has come under scrutiny again in the handling and accounting of deadly toxins such as Sarin nerve agent. In a report last week titled “The Army Needs to Improve Controls Over Chemical Surety Materials,” the office of the Defense Department’s Acting Inspector General Glenn Fine found that Dugway officials failed to give immediate notice of an accounting discrepancy that showed a 1.5 milliliter shortage of Sarin.

Thousands still to go but 46,000 abandoned Japanese chemical arms destroyed in China to date read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (18)

(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 12 – 18 June 2017.)

CBW disarmament

“Sarin chemical agent stockpiles completely eradicated in Russia”: official (Ivan Castro, 12 June 2017): All the stockpiles of sarin chemical agent in Russia have been liquidated, Russian Interfax agency reported citing Colonel General Valery Kapashin, head of the Federal Agency on safe keeping and liquidation of chemical weapons. China, OPCW pledge further cooperation (Xinhua, 12 June 2017): Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Monday met with visiting Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmeet Uzumcu, and the two pledged to enhance cooperation. Morocco Elected African Coordinator for Chemical Weapons Prohibition Organization (Ezzoubeir Jabrane, 13 June 2017): The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has elected Morocco to be the coordinator for its African state members, the Moroccan Embassy in the Netherlands announced Monday. Morocco succeeded Kenya in this annual function.

Washington: Russian chemical weapons will never threaten U.S. again read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (17)

(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 5 – 11 June 2017.)

CBW disarmament

  • Buckley hosts intricate Chemical Weapon Convention Treaty training exercise (Nicholas Rau, 8 June 2017): Over the course of three intense training days, Buckley Air Force Base hosted a unique and carefully planned Chemical Weapon Convention Treaty training exercise to test the response of Air Force Major Command Base Assistance Teams in preparation of any possible international challenge inspection.

CW use

  • NYT’s New Syria-Sarin Report Challenged (Robert Parry, 7 June 2017): Special Report: An MIT national security scientist says the New York Times pushed a “fraudulent” analysis of last April’s “sarin” incident in Syria, part of a troubling pattern of “groupthink” and “confirmation bias.”  For U.S. mainstream journalists and government analysts, their erroneous “groupthinks” often have a shady accomplice called “confirmation bias,” that is, the expectation that some “enemy” must be guilty and thus the tendency to twist any fact in that direction. It doesn’t even seem to matter how well-credentialed the skeptic is or how obvious the failings of the mainstream analysis are. So, you even have weapons experts, such as Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who are ignored when their judgments conflict with the conventional wisdom.
  • Agency: IS target civilians with chemical weapons in Mosul’s Zanjili (Mohamed Mostafa, 7 June 2017): Islamic State militants used chemical weapons in their current battles with Iraqi forces around western Mosul’s Old City, their last stronghold in the region, causing civilian injuries, a news report said Wednesday.

Other CBW-related incidents

U.S.-led forces appear to be using white phosphorus in populated areas in Iraq and Syria read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (16)

(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 29 May – 4 June 2017.)

CBW disarmament

OPCW team inspects Roxy Paints factory (BSS, 28 May 2017): A two-member inspection team of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has visited the Roxy Paints Limited, 1st Unit at Hazaribag in the capital [of Bangladesh] and inspected the factory. Russia Destroys Nearly 99% of Chemical Weapon Stockpile Under CWC – Official (Sputnik, 30 May 2017): The head of the Russian Ministry of Industry’s Department of Conventional Obligations Realization and Trade said that Russia has destroyed nearly 99 percent of its chemical weapon stockpile over the past 20 years. Asian States Parties Pledge Closer Cooperation at Regional Meeting in Dubai=&0=&

Below the headlines: CBW matters (14)

(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 15 – 21 May 2017.)

CBW disarmament

Letter dated 5 May 2017 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council: Status of the implementation of the plan for the destruction of Libya’s remaining category 2 chemical weapons outside the territory of Libya (S/2017/401). OPCW’s 15th regional meeting of national authorities kicks off in Dubai (Press release, 16 May 2017): Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and President of the Committee for Goods and Materials Subject to Import and Export Control, on Tuesday launched the 15th Regional Meeting of National Authorities of States Parties in Asia, in Dubai The meeting has been organised by the Executive Office of the Committee for Goods and Materials Subject to Import and Export Control, in partnership with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, and will run until 18th May with 35 participants from 30 countries. Avignon Capital acquires OPCW headquarters in The Hague for €38m (Property Magazine, 17 May 2017): Avignon Capital has acquired a purpose-built property in The Hague, let to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for €38m. The property is located in the International Peace and Justice District of The Hague, home to numerous UN or UN-related organisations. It comprises 16,734 sqm of leasable floor area divided over basement, ground floor and seven upper floors, having been built-to-suit in 1998.

Deputy Minister Liu, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China visits the OPCW read more

Below the headlines: CBW matters (13)

(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 8 – 14 May 2017.)

Chemical warfare in Syria

Who to believe about Syria? (Tim Hayward, 18 April 2017): I’m no expert about Syria, so why these blogposts? The initial stimulus was realising that people of good will and similar ethics can have some markedly contrasting views of the situation in Syria.  This was a puzzle to me. And given the gravity of what’s at stake, I felt an obligation to try and solve it. The basic disagreement could not be explained by familiar sorts of political bias. It cuts across left-right and authoritarian-libertarian lines; a person’s stance on it can not even be predicted by their stance, say, on Palestine, or Cuba.  Attitudes to Russia can be a better indicator, but if my own case is anything to go by, this has nothing particularly to do with political views and is anyway an effect rather than a cause. What Putin says about Syria tends to resonate with what I’ve come to think; I have never thought that any statement was true because Putin made it. I also just don’t think it very intellectually mature or responsible to suppose that something is false because he says it! Chomsky and the Syria revisionists: Regime whitewashing (Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, 5 May 2017): Chomsky cites Postol because he is a man with credentials, giving conspiracy theories a veneer of scientific plausibility. Chomsky and the Syria revisionists: The Left’s moral cul-de-sac (Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, 5 May 2017): The paradox of Chomskyian contrarianism is that because it is a bundle of reflexes whose primary stimulus is domestic politics, it sees retreat from principle as less problematic than a lapse in adversarial posturing. Chomsky is not the worst offender on the Left; indeed, until August 2013, he even sounded sympathetic to the Syrian uprising. It was the massacre of over 1,400 people in a horrific sarin attack in August 2013 that ironically marked the deterioration in Chomsky’s position. Regional action needed to prevent Syrian chemical attacks (Daniel M. Gerstein, 7 May 2017): Last month the world watched in horror as innocent Syrian civilians were brutally attacked by chemical weapons. France recently joined the United States, Britain, Turkey and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in assigning blame for the April 5 attack to the Syrian government and President Bashar Assad. In a sense, the French announcement comes as no surprise given the incontrovertible evidence uncovered by the other investigations. The chemical used was sarin — a powerful nerve agent. The chemical formulas match those of known Syrian stocks and the aircraft that conducted the attack came from a Syrian Air Force base. Hard to argue with such facts. What has been a surprise is the tepid global response.

False-flag chemical weapons attack: Re-play of an old US ploy to smash Syria? read more