Army Chemical Review

SUMMER 2013

Army Chemical Review presents professional information about Chemical Corps functions related to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, smoke, flame, and civil support operations.

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potential to cause widespread illness and death. In the past, several HFVs were weaponized by the United States, the former Soviet Union, and possibly North Korea.23 In 1993, Shoko Ashahara—the nearly blind leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which was responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo, Japan, subway system—led a group of 16 cult doctors and nurses to what was then Zaire "to learn as much as possible about and, ideally, to bring back samples of Ebola virus."24, 25, 26 The cult had also experimented with anthrax before the Tokyo subway attack. Cult members had tried to cause a major biological emergency by spraying anthrax spores from the top of an eight-story building in eastern Tokyo.27, 28 Although the Aum Shinrikyo attempts to create bioweapons failed, the threat of others trying to use anthrax, Ebola, or other diseases from samples collected in Africa is still signifcant. The rise of al-Shabab, a powerful Islamist insurgent group that claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, during the World Cup Soccer Finals in July 2010, has refocused U.S. security attention and interest in the area.29 The militant Islamist organization of al-Qaida, which sought to develop biological weapons in Afghanistan—and which some believe is still pursuing them—has established cells in East Africa.30, 31, 32 According to Senator Lugar, when combined with radicalization among sectors of the Muslim population, these al-Qaida-linked cells are the most serious East African threat to the United States and its allies.33 A Dark, Biothreat-Related History agents (including agents for anthrax, botulism, cholera, plague, and salmonellosis), which became part of the arsenal in the assassination program of the apartheid government. Project Coast came to light during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that were conducted in 1998. Claims were made against Project Coast scientists, accusing them of developing lethal biological weapons to target political leaders of the African National Congress. These weapons reportedly included infertility toxins (to be added to water sources for the purpose of causing blacks—but not whites—to become incapable of reproduction) and skin-absorbent poisons (which could be applied to clothing).40 During the hearings, the possible anthrax poisoning of cattle was also revealed. Some people believed that the major anthrax outbreak which occurred in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) before Project Coast was established was the work of South African special operations, but the allegation was never proven. Other biowarfare-related events that took place in southern Africa were dismissed, as they were not within Truth and Reconciliation Commission jurisdiction. During its 1993 regime transformation, the South African government dismantled Project Coast.41, 42, 43 Although Dr. Basson was acquitted in 2003,44 he and his former Project Coast colleagues (who allegedly used biological agents) left a lasting impression on those who are still concerned about the potential of biological warfare proliferation. Measures to Improve Biosafety, Biosecurity, and Biosurveillance Senator Lugar's trip report from Africa states that "the Soviets obtained many samples used for biological weapons from Africa."34 Although samples of deadly diseases may still be of concern—especially if they should fall into the hands of terrorists—they are not the only source of biothreat concern within Africa; experts in the research and development of biological weapons may also be a problem. A 2002 Wall Street Journal article described Dr. Mike Odendaal, a former South African biowarfare scientist who once worked on Project Coast (a secret chemical and biological weapons program), and others like him as possibly being "ripe for recruitment."35 From 1985 to 1993, Odendaal worked on developing biological assassination weapons for apartheid South Africa at Roodeplaat Research Laboratories,36 which was a military front company primarily responsible for the biological warfare aspects of Project Coast.37 The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTRP) was established more than 20 years ago—primarily to help secure and destroy nuclear weapons and capabilities; however, it has also resulted in some reduction in chemical and biological threats. So far, the program has amassed an impressive record, including the— Project Coast began in the early 1980s, under the apartheid era South African government led by Prime Minister P.W. Botha. The program was initiated under the aegis of the special forces, South African Defense Forces, to thwart the perceived threat of Soviet-backed Marxist guerillas or regimes in the region and black nationalists who were at home in South Africa.38 Major Wouter Basson, a doctor who has been described as a "master manager of people," was placed in charge of this clandestine program, leading it from the 1980s through the early 1990s.39 In managing the program, Dr. Basson established an elaborate network of procurement and fnancial front companies. Scientists working for these companies developed and tested numerous diseasing-causing biological ● Destruction of 33 nuclear submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles. Summer 2013 ● Deactivation of 7,599 strategic nuclear warheads. ● Destruction of 791 intercontinental ballistic missiles. ● Elimination of 498 intercontinental ballistic missile silos. ● Destruction of 180 intercontinental ballistic missile mobile launchers. ● Elimination of 670 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. ● Elimination of 670 submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers. ● Elimination of 155 bombers.45 The Nunn-Lugar CTRP is now being expanded to confront bioterrorism threats on a broader level.46 The expansion represents a logical continuation of program successes— especially considering current concerns about biological terrorism. Beyond nuclear, biological, and chemical elimination efforts, the Nunn-Lugar CTRP has also worked toward the reemployment of scientists and facilities once associated with weapons of mass destruction activities to help accomplish peaceful research initiatives. For example, 58,000 53

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