Chemical Surveillance

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Status Brief


Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Dale J., Trevor and Rebek Jr., Julius, "Fluorescent Sensors for Organophosphorus Nerve Agent Mimics", 17 March 2006, JACS [1] Last Checked September 27, 2011.

  • "We present a small molecule sensor that provides an optical response to the presence of an organophosphorus (OP)-containing nerve agent mimic."
  • "The design contains three key features:  a primary alcohol, a tertiary amine in close proximity to the alcohol, and a fluorescent group used as the optical readout."
  • "Exposure to an OP nerve agent mimic triggers phosphorylation of the primary alcohol followed rapidly by an intramolecular substitution reaction as the amine displaces the created phosphate. The quaternized ammonium salt produced by this cyclization reaction no longer possesses a lone pair of electrons, and a fluorescence readout is observed as the nonradiative PET quenching pathway of the fluorophore is shut down."
  • "The pyrene-based compound containing the shortest spacer between the fluorescent acceptor and the amine donor, one methylene unit, provides the most significant increase in fluorescence intensity upon reaction with the nerve agent mimic DCP."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance


Zukas, Walter, Cabrera, Catherine, Harper, James, Kunz, et al., “Assessment of Nanotechnology for Chemical Biological Defense,” in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology for Chemical and Biological Defense, Chapter 9, American Chemical Society, Washington DC, 2009.

  • ”The term nanotechnology generally refers to the evolving body of tools and knowledge that allow manipulation of material structures at the scale of approximately 10-100 nanometers and to understand the relationship between nanometer scale features and the macroscopic properties of materials. Rapid progress in the development of analytical tools to probe the nanometer scale and to manipulate materials at this scale has led to a dramatic increase in the number and diversity of research programs on nanoscience and technology.” P. 10
  • ”…the deeply scaled dimensions of nanoparticles enhance the surface-area-to-volume ratio, and suitable surface chemistry can then lead to highly efficient sensing schemes or catalytic reactions.” P. 10
  • ”…sorption-based detection is the one most suited for application of nanotechnology. ….on the nanoscale of living systems, all sensing and molecular recognition functions are based on sorption of some sort, suggesting that man-made sensing systems aimed at mimicking biological systems will most likely use this mechanism. When a molecule adsorbs [SIC] to a surface it not only changes the mass at the surface, but it can also impart changes in the electrical, optical, and/or luminescent properties, all of which have been explored as mechanisms for chemical sensing. High surface-area-to-volume ratio nanostructures generally exhibit amplified responses to these properties, leading to sensor demonstrations with unprecedented sensitivity.” P. 10
  • ”Nanotechnology may also play a role in development of non-caustic decontamination treatments. Most non-caustic decontamination chemicals exhibit slower reaction rates with agents than caustic chemicals such as bleach or sodium hydroxide.” P. 10
  • ”CB agents pose extreme challenges for detection, protection, and decontamination. Their characteristic feature is their high lethality, so that even minute amounts (micrograms to milligrams) can constitute a lethal dose. Therefore, the fundamental challenge of CBD is to develop products which are highly sensitive, selective, and efficient. Sensors must detect agents at levels well below LD50, and still having extremely low levels of false alarms.” P. 12
  • ”Calometric means to detect this heat would obviate the need for engineering fluorescent centers into the receptor, and could result for a whole new class of sensors, but other detection methods may also be feasible.” P. 14
  • ”The vast majority of nanotechnology-based CB sensor research has focused on ultra-sensitive transducers such as nanowires, nanotubes, and cantilevers (14-16). However, sensing elements are only useful if particles of interest are present in the sample volume being interrogated; as the volume decreases, the effective concentration in the sample must increase (17).” P. 14
  • ”Nano-permeable membranes (NPMs), especially those based on carbon nanontubes, have been the focus of extensive research. Recently, several groups have reported that the transport of water through nanotube pores is [SIC] orders of magnitude higher than predicted by classical hydrodynamic theories (87-89). … The field appears to have excellent potential to yield substantial valuable results from an investment focused on projects specifically tailored to address chem/bio protection, and the long-standing need for permselective membranes with improved water transport and high selectivity.” P. 18
  • ”The recommendation is to focus on projects that seek to extend these results to applications of direct relevance to CBD (e.g. chemical and biological agent prophylaxis, vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments) and that seek to demonstrate that the nanoscale features of these methods to offer revolutionary capability improvements when compared to traditional approaches.” P. 18
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Biodetection, Biosurveillance, Vaccination, Decontamination


Schmidt, Michael, S., "In Progress, A Network To Observe Midtown," NYT A18, May 3, 2010.

  • "The police Department has been planning a high-tech security network for Midtown Manhattan involving surveillance cameras, license plate readers and chemical sensors..."
  • "The network could have been triggered via its chemical, biological and radiological sensors..."
  • "The department secured a $24 million Department of Homeland Security grant last fall to begin building the network."
  • Biosurveillance, Chemical Surveillance, Radiological Surveillance


Editor, "Smiths Detection Launches Smallest, Most Advanced Handheld Tri-Mode Threat Detector", Business Wire, September 12, 2011, [2]. Last Checked 20 September 2011.

  • "Smiths Detection today launched to the global market the SABRE 5000, the latest offering in its state-of-the-art line of handheld systems for detecting trace amounts of explosives, narcotics, chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals."
  • "Jim Viscardi, Vice President of Sales, Smiths Detection, said: "SABRE 5000 is the smallest, most capable tri-mode detector available on the market today. Its design was driven by our customers, who played a tremendous role in helping us determine exactly what tool first responders and security professionals needed.”
  • "New key features for the SABRE 5000 tri-mode detector include an expanded vapor detection capability giving a wider range of substance identification, faster clear-down for better throughput and built-in troubleshooting for an improved user experience."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Emergency Response

Xuanjun Wu , Zhisheng Wu and Shoufa Han, "Chromogenic and fluorogenic detection of a nerve agent simulant with a rhodamine-deoxylactam based sensor", 26 September 2011, RSC Publishing, [3] Last Checked 8 November 2011.

  • "Herein, we report detection of a nerve agent simulant with N-(rhodamine B)-deoxylactam-2-aminoethanol via tandem phosphorylation-intramolecular cyclization. The cyclization is concomitant with opening of the deoxylactam, leading to the formation of highly fluorescent and colored species. N-(Rhodamine B)-lactam-2-aminoethanol (referred as RB-AE), prepared by amidation of rhodamine B with 2-aminoethanol, was treated with lithium aluminium hydride in anhydrous tetrahydrofuran to give N-(rhodamine B)-deoxylactam-2-aminoethanol (referred as dRB-AE) in 50% yield. dRB-AE is nonfluorescent and colorless due to the intramolecular deoxylactam"
  • "Diethyl chlorophosphate, displaying a similar chemical structure and reactivity to Sarin, was widely used as the nerve agent simulant. Upon addition of diethyl chlorophosphate, the dRB-AE solution quickly turned into red color."
  • "Kinetic analysis of the reaction between dRB-AE and diethyl chlorophosphate showed that the fast phase of the signal production (50% of the maximal fluorescence intensity) is complete at about 5 minutes. The change in relative humidity is an important factor that needs to be taken into account for on-spot detection. The tolerance of water in the assay system suggests its potential utility in monitoring nerve agents under practical conditions."
  • "As low as 25 ppm of diethyl chlorophosphate can be detected under the assay conditions. UV-vis absorption spectra of the aforementioned titration solutions showed that the major absorption band centered at 560 nm intensified as the analyte concentration increased. The deep red color of the assay solution suggested the possibility of qualitative detection of nerve agent mimics with dRB-AE by naked eyes."
  • "Sensing of diethyl chlorophosphate with dRB-AE was further evaluated using rhodamine-hydroxamate as the control to compare their efficiency. The dRB-AE based assay furnished highly fluorescent and deep colored species that is suitable for visual detection. Compared to the rhodamine-hydroxamate based assay where the fluorescence emission intensity declined gradually in the late phase, the dRB-AE based assay gave highly stable fluorescence signals, allowing accurate detection of nerve agents by fluorometry."
  • "In summary, a chromogenic and fluorogenic assay of a nerve agent simulant was developed based on reactive organophosphate triggered irreversible opening of the deoxylactam of dRB-AE. The assay is sensitive and exhibited improved kinetics relative to a prior sensor,5 allowing detection of reactive organophosphates with the aid of instruments or possibly with “naked eyes”. We anticipate that rhodamine-deoxylactams which are poised to analyte mediated opening of the intramolecular deoxylactam will be useful as the universal signal reporting platform for fluorogenic sensing of many other chemically reactive species with appropriate structural modifications."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance

Needs, Chris, "Disaster Preparedness 2011: Smart phones enhanced with nanotube hazmat detectors bring a new dimension to preparedness", 7 November 2011, Government Security News, [4], Last Checked 8 November 2011.

  • "What if your cell phone could detect toxic airborne substances like carbon monoxide, chlorine or even chemical warfare agents? The public would have a new level of personal protection against a range of fairly common airborne chemical-based toxins, as well as against terrorist attacks involving WMDs. And when sensor data is harnessed in an environmental sensing network for first responders and other organizations, it will be the dawn of a new era for disaster preparedness."
  • "While this may sound like science fiction, it has become a reality today, and it is known as Cell-All. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology directorate and a cadre of technology and disaster preparedness partners recently demonstrated the Cell-All capability at a Los Angeles Fire Department training facility. The technology is based on new nanotube sensors developed by NASA and Synkera Technologies and is engineered to work within the small space and power consumption requirements of a cell phone."
  • "Qualcomm technology captures the sensor data, scrubs it of any personal information associated with the owner of the cell phone, and uses a series of algorithms to characterize the confidence, severity, location and other aspects of the incident. The validated incident data is then transmitted to analysts at NC4, a technology and services company that operates incident monitoring centers for government and corporate clients. NC4 analysts are trained to quickly assess the incident, correlate it with other real-time information and contact first responders or other organizations -- all within minutes of initial detection."
  • "The benefits of this technology for emergency and disaster preparedness are evident on numerous levels. An individual could be notified immediately if there were abnormal concentrations of a toxic chemical in close proximity."
  • "If the individual opted into the environmental sensing network, hazmat teams and first responders would be notified automatically, helping to alleviate the strain on the increasingly overburdened 9-1-1 system. Sensor-enabled smart phones could become part of standard-issue personal protective equipment for these first responders, better preparing them to assess life-and-death situations without carrying special, cumbersome equipment."
  • "Experienced NC4 analysts perform the critical human-in-the-loop function of identifying false positives, assessing the characteristics of the incident, and correlating it with other information. "
  • "By evaluating this kind of information, and correlating it with other open source information, such as roadway closures from a state DOT, or wind speed and direction from the NWS, or restricted information from law enforcement and emergency response channels, NC4 transforms basic incident information into vetted, value-added and actionable intelligence that consumers in the public and private sectors can trust."
  • "If any sizable proportion of the 300 million cell phones in the U.S. were enabled with this technology, it would also bring a powerful tool to the nation's anti-terrorism efforts, with minimal investment. The ability to crowd-source the data provided by these sensors could help identify coordinated terrorist attacks more quickly."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Emergency Response, Chemical

Dover, Michelle E., "Syria's Chemical Weapons an Opaque but Alarming Risk", 5 December 2011, WPR, [5], Last Checked 6 December 2011.

  • "Recent reports from Syria of military defectors attacking an Air Force intelligence building in Hasrata highlight the growing likelihood that Syrian military sites will become a target in the country’s ongoing conflict. While no other similar attacks have been reported since then, the Hasrata incident illustrates the possibility of escalating instability within Syria’s military command, which could in turn lead to difficulties in controlling and securing Syrian military assets. In such a climate, Syria’s alleged chemical weapons program is cause for particular concern."
  • "The international community suspects Syria of having a comprehensive chemical weapons program that includes production and delivery capabilities, and there is unease among U.S. officials and weapons experts over how control of chemical agents and weapons may factor into the current conflict. Should the violence escalate, shifts in power could jeopardize the security and control of Syria’s chemical weapons, particularly since many of its suspected facilities are located near current or recent sites of unrest."
  • "Syria has never explicitly confirmed its possession of chemical weapons, and public information on the program’s details is neither specific nor thoroughly documented. Damascus also has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which prohibits the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Since Syria does not adhere to the treaty, makes no declarations and allows no inspections, the international community has no easy way of determining what capabilities the country may have."
  • "Initial press and intelligence reports in the 1970s and 1980s indicated that Syria was acquiring a chemical weapons stockpile with help from the USSR, Egypt and Czechoslovakia. This approach appears to have shifted in the 1990s to a focus on domestic production. Syria is thought to have either stockpiles of -- or the current capability to produce -- mustard gas and more-lethal nerve agents such as sarin and possibly VX."
  • "The only report of possible Syrian use of chemical weapons consists of unconfirmed allegations by Amnesty International (.pdf) that the Syrian regime used cyanide gas in its repression of the 1982 uprising in Hama. A recent statement from Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, Jr., the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, suggests that Syria still relies on foreign assistance for the precursor chemicals needed to produce chemical warfare agents and research-and-development collaboration. If so, Syria’s chemical weapons program is not entirely self-sufficient. News reports of illicit trade of precursor chemicals corroborate such an assessment, and may also indicate that at least some components of Syria’s chemical weapons program remain active."
  • "Syria probably has artillery shells, aerial bombs and ballistic missiles -- including SCUDs, SCUD-variants, and SS-21s -- that could carry chemical agents."
  • "In the 1990s, for example, Syria allegedly received nerve agent precursors from Russia, while as recently as in the 2000s, Iran may have collaborated with Syria on research and provided precursor chemicals. Russia and North Korea are believed to have aided Syria’s missile capabilities"
  • "Since the 1980s there have been numerous open-source reports and declassified documents that list research, production and storage sites of chemical agents and missiles in Syria, many of which are located in or around several of the largest cities that are currently seeing protests. Homs, Hamah and Latakia, for example, have all been cited as locations for chemical weapons production facilities and have been major centers of unrest. Aleppo, another city that has seen major protests and violent repression, is alleged to be the site for missile production and storage. Aleppo is also not far from a suspected chemical weapons production site in Al-Safirah."
  • "The level of security at Syria's sensitive military sites is unknown, including the number and sophistication of physical barriers, the type of accounting systems in place and the number and training of guards at such sites. Should security at these facilities be breached by outsiders or sabotaged by guards, any number of worrisome outcomes could arise, including use of chemical weapons or their transfer to non-Syrian actors such as Hezbollah."
  • "The United States and Israel have stated they are concerned about the status of Syria’s WMD programs and that they are watching the situation carefully, though they have not said how."
  • "The potentially destabilizing factor of Syria's chemical weapons program should be a matter of concern to U.S. policymakers, who should aim to ensure the security of sites related to the program, perhaps by engaging in contingency planning with Syrian opposition leaders and other regional powers such as Turkey. Much remains unknown about Syria’s chemical weapons, but what is known warrants closer attention."
  • Chemical Surveillance, WMD, Chemical, Military

µµ Levine, Mike , "Beset By Strife at Chemical Security Office, DHS Internal Report Claims Anti-Terrorism Program Now In Jeopardy", 21 December 2011,, [6], Last Checked 26 December 2011.

  • "A federal program aimed at securing potentially dangerous chemicals is now in jeopardy after being beset by a series of deep-seated problems, including wasteful spending and a largely unqualified workforce that lacks "professionalism," according to a scathing internal Department of Homeland Security report obtained exclusively by Fox News."
  • "In 2007, Congress established the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, which directs DHS to collect and review information from U.S. chemical facilities to determine whether they present a security risk. It is overseen by the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division -- or ISCD."
  • "As the Congressional Budget Office describes it, CFATS' mandate is to ensure that facilities deemed a high threat develop a security plan, and in turn, DHS "conducts inspections to validate the adequacy of" and compliance with the plan. But that's not how it is happening. The report, which suggests that administration officials are possibly being misled about the program’s success, says the office has yet to conduct a "compliance inspection" and it only recently began approving security plans."
  • "The report identifies several human resources problems, including inspectors who see their jobs within the context of prior law enforcement careers, which the report says has hindered effectiveness, and office employees who are unduly bound by union shops. The report says several of the challenges identified "pose a measurable risk to the program." A top-ranking DHS official characterized that conclusion as "very true."
  • "The question here is whether or not we can move this program to a level of completion and sustainment," Rand Beers, undersecretary for DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate, told Fox News in an interview Tuesday. Beers has overseen the program since 2009. "As long as I'm here, I'll certainly strive to do that."
  • "The report, initiated at Beers' behest over the summer, is accompanied by a detailed "action plan" and shows a clear effort by DHS, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars for the four-year-old program, to correct issues that have been tolerated -- if not condoned -- since the previous administration. But a growing concern named in the report is “the prospect that DHS leadership and those within the administration are under the impression that the program is further along than it actually is."
  • "The internal report cites several "serious staff-related challenges," including "numerous" people not qualified to do the work; a training department with staff lacking its own professional training or educational qualifications; and managers who lack managerial knowledge or experience but in some cases were hired based upon "an established relationship with the selecting official."
  • "With about 200 people employed full-time to work on the CFATS program, more than half are assigned to "inspections and enforcement." But many of the inspectors were hired before the job requirements were properly defined and as a result have "misaligned expectations about the job of a chemical inspector," the report says. "For example, certain employees feel that they are entitled to work only on projects that interest them; others have demanded that they be paid if we expect them to answer their cell phones during lunch."
  • "Despite their lack of law enforcement authority, some still actively seek the right to carry a firearm," the internal report reads. "They wear their uniforms as a symbol of identity and authority rather than a tool to be used when performing work inappropriate for office attire. The insistence upon titles such as 'commander' further demonstrates an emotionally charged reluctance to let go of past false assumptions about the nature of the work."
  • "The presence of the union at this stage of the program will have a significant negative impact on the ability of the program to proceed in a timely fashion" because, "as a 'start-up' program," CFATS is still being tweaked, and ISCD is "obligated to bargain on how any new or changed work assignment is implemented," according to the report. "These efforts alone could potentially set back implementation of the program by months, or even years," the report reads, noting that ISCD is currently engaged in a months-long dispute over whether inspectors should record their vehicle mileage once a day instead of once a month -- a move that has already cut vehicle usage in half."
  • "Beers is banking on newly-installed ISCD Director Penny Anderson and her deputy, the authors of the assessment, to salvage CFATS. Asked who is to blame for the problems now facing the program, Beers said he is "ultimately responsible" because "I am the undersecretary." But, he added, others within DHS, including former ISCD leadership, "all had some responsibility for failing to deal with this" and failing to "ask for help."
  • "Beers noted that when a new organization is "asked to perform" immediately, "you're going to have problems." It's a sentiment echoed in the report, which says "extraordinary pressure" early on "to proceed at an impractical pace" and "without a well developed direction and plan" created several "unintended" consequences. One of those unintended consequences, according to the report, is "problems with how we have spent our money, and how we are managing those funds." For example, ISCD bought first responder equipment like hazmat suits and rappelling ropes, even though "as a regulatory entity we do not have a first responder role." ISCD has also paid more than $20,000 each year to be a member of an international security association."
  • "In addition, while the program is intended to perform compliance inspections, that has not happened because the procedures and processes for compliance inspections haven't been designed yet. As for security plans, the precursor to a compliance inspection, about 4,200 have been submitted, and 38 have been approved since the conclusion of the assessment in November, according to a senior DHS official."
  • "Through public hearings on Capitol Hill and private letters with lawmakers, Beers has previously acknowledged major setbacks with the program. Earlier this year, DHS leadership determined that perhaps hundreds of chemical facilities had been erroneously deemed high-risk. The issue has since been resolved, but it was another indication that CFATS might need a closer look, Beers said. Beers said he now hopes to approve all plans for high-risk facilities by the end of next year, but, "I have been proven wrong with each of those goals that I have set, so I am a little wary of making a hard and fast prediction."
  • "The program, though, has had some tangible benefits, Beers said. Since CFATS began, about 1,300 facilities have removed all "chemicals of interest." Another 600 have reduced their chemical levels to a point where they are no longer regulated by CFATS, a trend Beers said he expects to continue."
  • "CFATS is currently funded through September 2012, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now engaged in negotiations over whether and how to authorize the program beyond then. For lawmakers still in town ahead of Christmas weekend, DHS leadership will be briefing them later this week on the report's findings and the "action plan" accompanying the report. That "action plan" lays out more than 80 specific ways to address each of the problems identified. To address staffing issues, the action plan calls for more personnel with regulatory compliance experience or reassigned to more appropriate positions. "I am presuming that this is a program that the American people and the Congress of the United States want, and that we will continue to improve our ability to (implement it)," Beers said."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Bioterrorism, Homeland Security


µµ Fisher, Maria, "Corps gauging public knowledge of ex-Kansas base", 15 January 2012,, [7], Last Checked 16 January 2012.

  • "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been gauging public understanding in the Kansas community of Salina about a site at the former Schilling Air Force base where there is possible contamination from chemical warfare training decades ago."
  • "Tim Rogers, executive director of the Salina Airport Authority, where the site is located, said the investigation into possible contamination from chemical warfare training at Schilling is not related to ongoing negotiations between Salina and the federal government over groundwater contamination at the former base, which closed in the 1960s."
  • "A Corps of Engineers contractor surveyed area officials recently to determine their interest in and knowledge of the site and its potential contamination from two types of chemicals used during training exercises more than 50 years ago."
  • "Diana McCoy, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers office in Kansas City, said in an email there are no known contaminants at the site, but that there could potentially be two types of chemical agents in the soil — toxic radiological waste and another material containing neat mustard agent, a chemical weapon that causes severe, painful but nonfatal blistering."
  • "McCoy said the corps contractor has been calling civic and elected leaders in Salina to determine their level of interest in and understanding of the site. She said results from the survey would help the corps "tailor the public involvement effort" at the site. Rogers, who was surveyed this past week, said some of the officials interviewed were surprised by the survey and questioned if it was connected to the ongoing mediation between Salina and the federal government over the toxic plume of the chemical TCE in groundwater at the former base."
  • ""That's the consensus back to me. That it would have been nice to know the context in which the calls were being made before the calls were being made," Rogers said. "The corps would have been best served by doing a public information piece about the upcoming calls."
  • "Rogers also said he's confident the study will determine that no chemical warfare material had been left behind at the site. McCoy said that survey respondents were given about four to seven days notice and that respondents are normally "cold-called" in order to prevent them from going out and researching the "subject ahead of time since the whole purpose of the survey is to determine what's already known about the project."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance

µµ Joyce, John, "USS Mason upgraded with new chemical agent detection capability as Navy begins massive fleet-wide initiative", 15 February 2012,, [8], Last Checked 19 February 2012.

  • "A new automated chemical warfare agent detection capability that successfully passed operational tests aboard USS Mason will be installed on warships throughout the fleet, Navy officials announced, Feb. 15."
  • "The Navy plans to install the new system – designed to quickly alert warfighters to the presence of chemical warfare agents – on all active guided missile destroyers and cruisers, aircraft carriers, large and small deck amphibious ships, littoral combat ships and dry cargo/ammunition ships by the end of 2018. “(Improved Point Detection System - Lifecycle Replacement) will provide the Navy continued chemical warfare agent detection, identification and alerting along with the high system reliability they need to perform their mission worldwide,” said Bruce Corso, IPDS-LR System Manager, office of the Joint Project Manager for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance."
  • "Warfighters aboard USS Mason – the first guided missile destroyer protected by IPDS-LR – are now relying on a better performing system that features ion mobility spectrometry. This chemical detection technology creates ions that separate by the time it takes the ion clusters to traverse a constant electric field drift region. "
  • "I am excited to have the Improved Point Detection System - Lifecycle Replacement on board,” said USS Mason commanding officer Cmdr. Adan Cruz after testing concluded Jan. 27. “As Captain, I hold the responsibility for the safety of the crew and this system provides enhanced chemical warfare defense to ensure our sailors will return home safely." "The install went extremely well,” said USS Mason executive officer Cmdr. Mike Briggs. “Having a reliable chemical detection system onboard to aid in ship's defense goes towards making Mason a more effective warship."
  • “More DDGs will follow,” said NSWCDD IPDS-LR Project Lead Brian Flaherty. “The sailor will see a system they can turn on and be confident it is protecting them. It samples air from outside the ship, evaluates it for the presence of chemical warfare agents and if there’s an agent present – IPDS-LR will alert them in an adequate amount of time to take precautionary measures.” IPDS-LR components located on the port and starboard sides of a ship sample air through external intakes in the hull. The system analyzes the external air for chemical agents. “If the detector identifies a chemical agent, it sends a signal that displays an alert at both the ship’s damage control central and the bridge,” said Flaherty. “The system also interfaces directly to the ship’s chemical alarm, which broadcasts an audible ship-wide alarm to alert the crew of a chemical warfare agent.”
  • "IPDS-LR’s test and Evaluation involved extensive time both in the laboratory and aboard ship - with extensive time at sea as well as an independent underway evaluation by the Navy’s Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force. “The new system is more maintainable and reliable,” said Flaherty. “Warfighters will see improved false alarm performance and longer periods of time between repairs. It will be easier and cheaper to repair.”
  • "Based on a commercial-off-the-shelf concept, a joint team of NSWCDD and JPM NBCCA engineers evaluated IPDS-LR in reliability, availability, and maintainability tests emphasizing a Navy shipboard maritime environment. The team collected over 14,000 hours of underway and in-port test time supporting the RAM analysis with multiple ships – and ship classes – based in the Norfolk and San Diego areas. Additional data collection continued aboard ships in forward deployed locations."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical, Military

µµ Editors, "Block MEMS Awarded SBIR Phase II Enhancement Contract", 23 February 2012,, [9] Last Checked 26 February 2012.

  • "Block MEMS has recently been awarded a prestigious Army Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II Enhancement Contract. This award follows Block's previous success in winning a Phase II Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP) award for its versatile LaserScan™ Analyzer."
  • "Petros Kotidis, CEO of Block MEMS, stated, "The focus of this new award will be on enhancing the LaserScan's capabilities through the development of novel chemical recognition algorithms. These algorithms will enable LaserScan to detect liquid and solid chemical warfare agents and other emerging chemical threats, from a standoff distance on a variety of substrates."
  • "LaserScan is a revolutionary next-generation spectrometer that incorporates widely tunable mid-infrared (IR) quantum cascade lasers (QCL). It detects and measures substances on surfaces from a standoff distance of 6 inches to 2 feet. LaserScan identifies bulk materials and detects sub-micron films based on their mid-IR absorption characteristics."
  • "Key applications include detection of explosive materials, traditional and nontraditional chemical agents, biological agents and toxic industrial chemicals. It also analyzes gases and liquids. An alternate version of the device is designed to interface with common FTIR accessories, including liquid and gas cells, fiber optic probes and reflectance accessories. The LaserScan can also be outfitted to function as an IR microscope."

Chemical Surveillance, Chemical, Military

µµ Pierce, David, "Prince William fire and rescue debut new hazmat unit", 26 February 2012,, [10] Last Checked 4 March 2012.

  • "Fire officials in Prince William County have a new tool to improve how they handle hazmat calls.The county fire and rescue department launched Hazmat 506, a 2003 Pierce Lance, on Feb. 18. The 42,740 pound, 33-feet long unit, which is garaged at the Coles District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad outside Independent Hill, replaces a much smaller truck.
  • "The older vehicle, named Hazmat Support 506, was a four-door pickup with a small walk-in storage unit attached to its rear that Battalion Chief Kurt Heindrichs likened to a “plumber’s truck.” It was impossible for crews to bring all of their equipment with them to incidents with the older unit, the battalion chief said.“We’d have to leave equipment at the station,” Heindrichs said.“It’d cause difficulties because the unit was so small, we had a hard time putting people in it when crews would put their [gear] on their backs.”
  • "The new unit has ample space for multiple tools used to detect, identify and contain substances in chemical spills, radiation, chemical warfare agents, acids, gases, as well bacteria such as anthrax, officials said. Other items, such as full-body chemical protection suits, fit comfortably in Hazmat 506 with room to grow."
  • "Frequently, crews had to also be transported to incident scenes in a second fire engine due to the space crunch in the old unit, Heindrichs said. But the addition of more storage space isn’t the only benefit of having a much-larger response vehicle. Hazmat officials also can now utilize an 8- by 5-foot room with a wraparound desk and computer monitors inside the new unit, to research hazardous materials while in the field. In the past, crews had to work in the elements, with chemistry books and other equipment strewn over a small passenger seat area, or on the hood of the pickup, said Capt. Thomas Denner, who manages the hazmat unit. “The new indoor research area helps us get a cleaner and more accurate sample,” Denner said of hazardous materials."
  • "According to Heindrichs, the county purchased the unit used from Manassas fire and rescue officials for $243,000, with another $26,800 used for ancillary equipment. A total of $220,200 for the vehicle came from a fire levy, while $23,000 came from a Virginia Department of Emergency Management grant, officials said. A total of $26,800 from the county fire and rescue department’s general county fund paid for the equipment, Heindrichs said."
  • "The new vehicle also upped the county’s hazmat program to be awarded a Level 1 status from the National Incident Management System, Heindrichs said."
  • "Hazmat 506 better suits the approximately 60 hazmat technicians in the county, up from only two when the program was launched in late 2002, officials said. Heindrichs said the hazmat crew is “extremely excited” to use the new apparatus. The unit will staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is expected to be used on 160 to 200 calls a year, according to Denner."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical, Emergency Response

µµ Editors, "Chemring Detection Systems Awarded $500k for Strategic Research and Development", 27 February 2012,, [11] Last Checked 4 March 2012.

  • "Chemring Detection Systems (CDS), a Chemring Group PLC ("Chemring") subsidiary, is pleased to announce that it was awarded two strategic contracts for chemical detection. The awards were made by the Joint Project Manager for Nuclear Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance (JPM NBC CA) for the Multi Mission Multi Threat Detection (M3TD) project. "These important contracts help us to evaluate the capability of our new detection products," said Bill Gural, President of CDS."
  • "The first award was in the "Raman" category for test and evaluation of the THOR-1064 product currently in development at CDS. The THOR-1064 detects the presence of compounds in solid or liquid form, identifies the specific compound detected, and automatically alarms to notify users of a positive detection. THOR-1064 provides laboratory quality measurements in a rugged, handheld device."
  • "The second award was in the Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) category for test and evaluation of the Differential Mobility Spectrometer Vapor Detection System (DMSVD), a developmental prototype at CDS. The DMSVD is a non-contact vapor detector based on Differential Mobility Spectrometry. DMS offers improved sensitivity and selectivity over Ion Mobility Spectrometry based devices. DMS technology has been implemented into CDS' JUNO® handheld vapor detector, currently available for sale, which includes a library of Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs) and chemical warfare agents."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical

µµ Moore, Nicole, "Nerve gas litmus test could sense airborne chemical weapons", 12 March 2012,, [12] Last Checked 12 March 2012

  • "Nerve gases are colorless, odorless, tasteless and deadly. While today's soldiers carry masks and other protective gear, they don't have reliable ways of knowing when they need them in time. That could change, thanks to a new litmus-like paper sensor made at the University of Michigan."
  • "The paper strips are designed to change color from blue to pink within 30 second of exposure to trace amounts of nerve gas."
  • "To detect these agents now, we rely on huge, expensive machines that are hard to carry and hard to operate," said Jinsang Kim, an associate professor in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering in addition to the program in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. "We wanted to develop an equipment-free, motion-free, highly sensitive technology that uses just our bare eyes."
  • "The new sensors combine a group of atoms from a nerve gas antidote with a molecule that changes color when it's under mechanical stress. The antidote's functional group binds to the nerve gas, and the resulting stress triggers the color-changing molecule to turn from blue to pink."
  • "In their experiment, the researchers used a less toxic "nerve agent simulant" related to Sarin gas. Their sensors were able to detect its presence at a concentration of 160 parts per billion, which is five times less than the amount that would kill a monkey."
  • "We believe these paper strips would detect real and potent nerve gases faster and in even lower concentrations considering their high vapor pressure and more volatile properties," Kim said."
  • "The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical

µµ Editors, "Nanotechnology-equipped cell phones detect harmful airborne substances", 4 April 2012,,[13] Last Checked 8 April 2012.

  • "The lab of a University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering professor was named on Tuesday, April 3 after Innovation Economy Corporation, a Riverside company that plans to commercialize his research focused on using mobile devices, such as cell phones, to detect harmful airborne substances in real-time."
  • "The technology being developed by Nosang Myung, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and Innovation Economy Corporation has the potential to be adapted in many industries. These include agriculture (detecting concentrations of pesticides), industry (monitoring evaporation and leaks when using or storing combustible gases), homeland security (warning systems for bio-terrorism) and the military (detecting chemical warfare agents)."
  • "This collaborative relationship is key to ensuring research conducted in our laboratories can be commercialized." Myung said.Reza Abbaschian, dean of the Bourns College of Engineering, said he is appreciative of Innovation Economy Corporation's support of the research."We are equally appreciative of the support they offer through their mission of connecting our faculty with government and industry and identifying ways to commercialize their discoveries for the benefit of society," Abbaschian said."
  • "Myung's research is licensed by start-up company Nano Engineering Applications, Inc., which was created and funded by Innovation Economy Corporation. Nano Engineering Applications focuses on commercializing patent pending, air-borne chemical detection technology. The company's cost-effective and scalable fabrication techniques allow research to be transformed into portable devices that detect minute quantities of harmful air-borne substances."
  • "The UC Riverside/Innovation Economy Corporation alliance moves the company closer to integrating toxin detection capabilities with mobile devices, including cell phones that can interface global positioning satellite systems.The technology uses functionalized carbon nanotubes that are 100,000 times finer than human hair and when functionalized are able to detect a multitude of targeted air-borne substances. UCR and Innovation Economy Corporation efforts are supported by the city and county of Riverside. "This model is one of the crowning achievements in our quest to continue to be recognized as one of the most intelligent communities in the world," Mayor Ron Loveridge said."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical

µµ Bozkurt Abdullah, "Turkey monitors Syria's chemical weapons", 13 April 2012, Sunday's Zaman, [14], Last Checked 15 April 2012.

  • "More than anything else that keeps security analysts working on the Syrian desks in the Turkish capital around the clock with little sleep and many cups of black Turkish coffee is the “unknown” prospect of a chemical weapons stockpile by the Syrian army and whether or not these weapons can be used by Assad's forces or its militia proxies against Turkish interests when the regime is pushed to the limit."
  • "Syria is the only one of Turkey's neighbors that has not signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty banning chemical weapons production, possession, distribution and use. Hence, we do not know how comprehensive a chemical arms program Damascus has been running so far, nor do we know the specific nature or capacity of its stockpile and the exact whereabouts of these weapons."
  • "There are only estimates from the Turkish, Arab and Western intelligence agencies that have been tracking Syrian efforts since the early 1980s."
  • "Assad has stored these weapons in some 50 different cites, mostly located in the northern part of the country that is closer to the Turkish border. For example, there are weapons depots in Hama, Homs, Latakia, al-Safirah, Dumayr and Khan Abu Shamatwere, which are all believed to contain chemical weapons."
  • "Last month, during a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told members that the US administration had been in discussions with Turkey over their anxieties regarding chemical and biological weapons depots in Syria. He stressed that the US was concerned over Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, which he said was “100 times worse than what we dealt with in Libya.” In the same committee, Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of the US Central Command, which covers the Middle East and Gulf region, also said, "Syria has a 'substantial chemical and biological weapons capability and thousands of shoulder-launched missiles'."
  • "As the only NATO member bordering Syria, Turkey is also concerned that Assad forces may use chemical weapons against civilians in besieged towns and cities as a last resort in order to escalate the humanitarian crisis and trigger a massive refugee exodus from Syria."
  • "On many occasions, Turkish authorities have had to force Iranian cargo planes flying through Turkish airspace to land at Turkish airports for inspection or have seized suspicious cargo carried by Iranian trucks overland en route to Syria."
  • "The head of the OPCW is Ahmet Üzümcü, a Turkish diplomat, who was unanimously elected director-general of the organization in 2009 for a four-year term. Ankara has been providing Üzümcü with intelligence reports on chemical weapons in Syria."
  • "The red flag was raised last year when Turkish intelligence discovered that Russia, a backer of the Assad regime, had sent 3 million gas masks to Syria. Officials in Ankara believe this shipment may be a sign that the regime has been preparing to use chemical weapons in an armed conflict."
  • "In the meantime, Turkey has been preparing for a doomsday scenario in the event of a chemical attack. The security measures around strategic vital assets like dams and water reservoirs in areas close to the Syrian border have been upgraded. The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has already developed technologies to protect Turkish troops and civilians from chemical attacks as well as early warning and detection systems using airborne scanning devices at the Marmara Research Center."
  • "The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK)'s NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) schools have been mobilized to offer what the army calls “wake up” services to train the personnel on preparedness for the hazards of chemical weapons. Turkish troops on the Syrian border have been trained on a contingency plan for a possible chemical attack from Syria, and the TSK has reportedly taken the necessary precautions to prevent such a possibility."
  • "The TSK has been monitoring the troop movements of the Syrian army with an eye on mobile missile launchers that may have the capability of firing missiles with chemical warheads."
  • "Turkey is also utilizing NATO's assets, especially an early warning radar system that was installed in Kurecik, Malatya province, as part the NATO missile shield to track Syrian missiles."
  • "Last but not the least, Turkish officials have also been talking to the allies on the possibility of taking out a weapons depot believed to contain chemical arms in a series of surgical air strikes with the participation of Turkish, Saudi and US fighter jets."
  • "The Israelis, who are also deeply worried about chemical weapons in Syria, look to Turkey to see if there is room for cooperation on this issue. Considering the expertise of the Israeli Air Force in surgical strikes, their participation may come in handy."
  • Chemical, Syria, Chemical Surveillance, WMD, CWC

µµ Editors, "Army orders chemical detectors", 27 April 2012,, [15], Last Checked 30 April 2012.

  • "Army has placed a $27 million order for chemical detector systems from Smiths Detection, the company reports."
  • "The order was given under the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Chemical Agent Detector program to protect troops in the field."
  • "The JCAD program is based on Smiths Detection's LCD 3.3, an advanced, light-weight device that can be easily strapped to a soldier's belt. The device samples the air constantly for the presence of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals."
  • "The threat from a wide range of chemical weapons is both real and immediate and one that the military must be fully equipped to combat," said Smiths Detection President Mal Maginnis
  • "Smiths Detection is supplying its enhanced M4A1 JCADs. Delivery of the units has already started, it said. The number of units to be supplied, however, wasn't revealed. The units are being produced at the company's facility at Edgewood, Md."
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical, Military

µµ Editors, "Telops software detects hazardous gas emissions in real time", 24 April 2012,, [16], Last Checked 30 April 2012.

  • "Telops, leader in the field of hyperspectral imaging systems and high performance infrared cameras for the Defense and Security, Environmental, Oil and Gas, and Industrial markets, is pleased to introduce Reveal D&I, a real-time detection software designed specifically for detection and identification of gas emissions."
  • "Reveal D&I allows to detect in real-time a large portfolio of gases simultaneously with an excellent detection rate. This powerful software also allows the visualization of a gas cloud in a scene and enables users to follow its evolution over time."
  • "Reveal D&I is designed to be used with the Hyper-Cam for numerous hyperspectral applications including standoff detection and identification of Toxic Industrial Chemicals and Chemical Warfare Agents, measurement of flares, leak detection, pollution monitoring, and more."
  • "This interactive software also allows the visualization of the calibrated spectrum at each pixel on the real-time images as well as providing the ability to adjust detection thresholds. The detected gas clouds appear in different colours in the scene which is being observed."
  • "This new software brings hyperspectral imaging to a whole new level as it provides the user with direct feedback from its ongoing experiments and field trials. It was also designed to make thermal hyperspectral imaging more accessible as the user needs only to focus on its application and not on the hardware." says Marc-André Gagnon, Hyper-Cam Product Line Manager at Telops.
  • Chemical Surveillance, Chemical

µµ McClelland, Carol Lt. Col., "Small CBRNE teams pack large capabilities", 30 April 2012,, [17], Last Checked 7 May 2012.

  • "Called CRTs, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosives response team is made up of only 15 soldiers but its mission is to do field presumptive identification, which means detecting bio-weapons while donning protective gear and entering sites deemed too dangerous for others."
  • "It’s dealing with germ warfare—when the enemy commits a war act by using biological toxins or infectious agents like bacteria, viruses or fungi with the intent to harm or kill humans, animals or plants.
  • "Bravo Company from the 110th Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort) deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to South Korea and participated in Foal Eagle, a monthlong, annual, joint/combined field training exercise that concluded, April 30. CRTs were created to deploy within the U.S. or overseas and can conduct CBRNE assessments, disablement, elimination, escort, site remediation and restoration in support of combatant commanders and other federal agencies."
  • "During Foal Eagle missions, the CRT worked together with CBRN specialists from 2nd Infantry Division and the Republic of Korea."
  • "While some soldiers remained outside establishing decontamination lines, guiding communication flow, or directing the course of events, others entered a dimly lit tunnel to safeguard it from explosives or other possible hazards and provide an initial assessment, followed by a different set of soldiers who gathered and packaged samples for analysis."
  • "Members of 2ID’s 4th Chemical Company are CBRN specialists. They include medics, engineers, mechanics and communicators."
  • "In order to give the most accurate account of what they saw, they’ll take photos, draw maps and relay detailed information to help the next team – the samplers.
  • "It’s important for us to give a back brief on what we saw. It could be liquids, solids, powder or could be any kind of chemicals or nerve agents. It could be anything really,” Harris said. “We’re supposed to go narrow down the possibilities."
  • "A heads up display inside the mask will help the recon team track remaining air time. The team surveys make-shift rooms inside the tunnel while checking the air quality outside their suits. There are stairs to navigate through fogged up face masks and a laboratory with chemicals still brewing in beakers. The team also discovers six shells that represent chemical munitions and two are leaking. The three end their survey session and head down a steep hill to go through decontamination procedures before providing information that will help the next team."
  • “The ROK army has studied and learned from the U.S. for several years so our procedures are similar,” Pyo said. “But I’m impressed by U.S. procedure because the U.S. specifies following the manual step-by-step. ROK procedures are kind of loose compared to U.S. procedures.”
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Military, South Korea

µµ Pollick, Michael, "Rapid Pathogen Screening secures Homeland Security deal", 3 May 2012,,[18], Last Checked 7 May 2012.

  • "Rapid Pathogen Screening Inc. -- the local company developing test kits aimed at spotting the flu and other diseases -- has landed a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
  • "The contract from the agency's Chemical and Biological Defense Division is for the development and manufacture of a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic test for use during a biological attack or pandemic. All the test would require from a patient is a finger stick for blood."
  • "There is a certain combination of things that the Department of Homeland Security gave us a grant to develop a test for," said RPS marketing manager Laura Lovejoy. "This would be used in a pandemic or a biological attack, with some sort of virus being released into an urban area."
  • "Theoretically, the kit format developed by RPS can be aimed at spotting almost any virus or bacterial threat, by measuring the presence of the antibody the body creates on its own to fight the invader."
  • "The company, which now employs 30, is beginning to market a second generation of its original test kit, designed to spot the highly contagious viral form of conjunctivitis, or pink-eye."
  • "The new version of this kit, called AdenoPlus, was designated this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as being a test with the lowest possible complexity. This means that the new version can be used by anybody in the medical office, including, for example, technicians or aides as well as doctors and nurses."
  • "If the test shows positive for viral conjunctivitis, the patient would know that antibiotics would not be useful."
  • "RPS already has received grants from within the Defense Department establishment to develop a test kit aimed at four different nerve agents, including the two best-known, Sarin and VX."
  • Biodetection, Biotechnology, Public Health, Flu, Chemical Surveillance

µµ Beach, Coral, "Nanotechnology could help reduce shrink", 2 May 2012,, [19], Last Checked 7 May 2012.

  • "A chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is using his background in the detection of explosives and chemical warfare agents to help reduce fresh produce shrink."
  • "Chemistry professor Timothy Swager and his students have developed a sensor to detect minute amounts of ethylene gas that could help retailers and distributors better manage inventory, according to a news release from the university in Cambridge, Mass."
  • "The devices could reduce retailers fresh produce losses by 30%, Swager said in the release"
  • "The professor has filed for a patent and hopes to start a company to offer the sensors commercially. He estimates the cost for a sensor and an accompanying radio frequency identification chip to be about $1."
  • "The sensors consist of an array of tens of thousands of carbon nanotubes, which are sheets of carbon atoms rolled into cylinders that act as superhighways for electron flow. Swager and his students added copper atoms to the nanotubes to slow the speed of the electrons and provide something for ethylene to bind to."
  • "The amount of ethylene can then be determined by measuring the speed of the electrons, which slow down more as the level of ethylene bound to the copper atoms increases. To make the sensors even more sensitive the research team added tiny beads of polystyrene, which absorb ethylene and concentrate it."
  • "With the latest version, the researchers can detect ethylene as low as 0.5 parts per million. The concentration required for fruit ripening is usually somewhere between 0.1 ppm and 1 ppm."
  • "Swager said in the release the sensors could be placed in cartons of produce to detect ethylene levels. The RFID chips would enable the data to be sent wirelessly to handheld devices. Retailers and distributors would then know the level of ripeness in individual cartons without having to handle the produce or rely on visual inspections."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Dual Use

Sisk, Richard, "US Intel Lost Track of Syrian Chemical Weapons",, 28 September 2012, [20], Last Checked 7 October 2012.

  • "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Syria has moved small amounts of its chemical weapons from secure sites and U.S. intelligence is unsure where those weapons ended up.
  • "We just don't know" the status of the stores of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide in the Syrian stockpile that have been moved recently, Panetta said Friday at a Pentagon briefing with Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay.
  • "There has been some intelligence that … there has been some movement in order for the Syrians to better secure ... the chemicals," Panetta said. "So while there's been some limited movement, again the major sites still remain in place, still remain secure."
  • "There has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place. Where exactly that's taken place, we don't know," Panetta said. "I don't have any specific information about the opposition and whether or not they've obtained some of this or how much they've obtained and just exactly what's taken place."
  • "Israel has warned that it might attack if Syria lost control of its chemical weapons stocks, believed to be the largest in the Middle East. President Obama has declared that the threat of chemical or biological warfare in Syria would be a "red line" for the U.S. that might bring military action."
  • "Syria has four main suspected sites for the storage of chemical weapons to include one north of Damascus, one near Homas, a third by Hama and fourth near Cerin. Smaller sites are located across the country."
  • "Any stock of W.M.D. or unconventional weapons that the Syrian Army possesses will never, never be used against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances," said Jihad Makdissi, a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman. "These weapons are made to be used strictly and only in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Military, U.S. Foreign Policy, Syria

Carroll, Chris and Rabiroff, Jon, "Army relocating chemical warfare battalion to South Korea", Stars and Stripes, 5 October 2012, [21], Last Checked 7 October 2012.

  • "A chemical warfare battalion will soon move from the United States to South Korea, beefing up the U.S. military’s capabilities in a region menaced by the threat of North Korean nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the Army announced this week."
  • "The move of the 61st and 62nd chemical companies, as well as the headquarters and headquarters detachment of the 23rd Chemical Battalion — nearly 300 soldiers in total — is scheduled to be complete early next year."
  • "The battalion will provide “nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance, equipment decontamination and consequence management assistance” to support U.S. and South Korean forces, according to an Army statement."
  • "The relocation of the 23rd Chemical Battalion “is strictly defensive and designed to increase readiness to defend [South Korea], protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula,” a 2nd Infantry Division statement said."
  • "Hall said part of the analysis was based on a calculation that once the move is complete, the Army will recoup $1.8 million a year through lower base operational support costs in South Korea. The battalion move will upgrade U.S. capabilities in a place where war is always a possibility."
  • "In Korea, like no other place on the globe, the potential for large-scale, full-spectrum conflict against the U.S. and its allies exists on a daily basis,” the 2nd ID statement said. “The 23rd Chemical Battalion brings specialized experience and expertise to 2ID in conducting operations to counter chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, and high-yield explosive threats.”
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Military, South Korea, North Korea

Editors, "Syrian Rebels Claim Knowledge of Chemical Weapons Sites",, 10 October 2012, [22], Last Checked 26 October 2012.

  • "According to a group of videos that have been posted on YouTube by Syrian activists, the rebels engaged in an ongoing military struggle against the Syrian government are aware of government-run sites containing chemical weapons."
  • "In a separate development in this regard, an ex-senior officer in the Syrian Army who claims to have served as the country’s chief of staff of chemical warfare reported to CNN that Iranian technicians are providing active assistance to the Syrian government in its research into the production of chemical weapons. The former officer further stated that such weapons could be easily transferred to the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah."
  • "In the YouTube videos, narrators presenting Google Earth satellite imagery offer detailed description of several sites where they allege that chemical weapons and missiles are being stored or manufactured."
  • "Adnan Sillu, a former major general in the Syrian Army, expressed his belief that it would not be difficult for the Assad regime to move the weapons in case a danger develops that they might come into the rebels’ possession. “They are artillery shells and rockets that can be moved easily to Hezbollah,” he added. At the same time, though, Sillu denied reports that he had admitted attending a meeting, prior to his defection, at which the participants discussed the potential use of chemical weapons."
  • "The ex-Syrian major general said he had knowledge that Syrian and Iranian experts were conducting joint research at the chemical weapons facility at Al Safir near Aleppo, which contains a complex of tunnels and a base for Scud missiles. “There are warehouses there,” Sillu claimed, “used for experiments on poisonous grenades that contain sarin gas, tabun gas and mustard gas.”"
  • "One of the online videos provides a detailed look at a military installation southwest of Damascus in al-Mazzeh, where a large military airport is located. In this video, an anonymous narrator says, “The chemical warehouse is connected with an underground tunnel that goes to the airport.” Pointing out what is apparently the tunnel’s exit, the narrator asserts that the tunnel is large enough to house trailers."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Syria

Editors, “Toxic chemicals spilled in Los Angeles, but the expert is in Los Alamos? No problem!” October 2012. Department of Homeland Security. [23]. Last Checked October 25, 2012.

  • “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has helped build a device that can quickly beam data on chemical toxins, biological agents, and dirty bombs from the hot zone to the desktops of HAZMAT hotshots around the world.”
  • “With a few clicks of the mouse, specialists and scene commanders can share information and collaborate on what they see. Decisions can be made better, faster. Meanwhile, evacuation calls can be sent out automatically to nearby homes and businesses.”
  • “The Los Angeles area program, known as the Integrated Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (ICBRNE) Detection Demonstration pilot, has brought together sensor manufacturers, application developers, communication companies, and system integrators to build this comprehensive detection system called the ICBRNE System.”
  • “The ICBRNE system uses standard, commercially available sensors to wirelessly relay live readings to experts. It’s a form of tele-detection, where experts see a replica of the instrument’s face plate and its location viewed on top of a map of the scene. The information can be shared though a simple Internet browse.”
  • “ ‘ICBRNE meets our need to get real-time instrument readings to the right people at the right time no matter where they are, which is a critical part of any emergency response,’ said Kathleen Kaufman of Los Angeles County Radiation Management, whose office used the technology throughout the pilot project.”
  • “A quarter century ago, a system like ICBRNE would not have been possible because of conflicting data requirements and federal standards for various chemical, biological, and radiological threats. Today, there is no limit on how many different substances can be integrated and transferred using the system.”
  • “In addition to its use in Los Angeles, ICBRNE is now spreading to others cities throughout the nation. "Our ultimate goal would be to establish ICBRNE capability in 30 cities over the next 10 years," said Teresa Lustig, ICBRNE’s program manager at S&T. The ICBRNE System continues to evolve and develop as more agencies either integrate their old equipment or buy new versions. While cost estimates have not been finalized, S&T expects that even small cities will benefit from better, broader detection, and big bucks worth of savings.”

Emergency Response, Biodetection, Chemical Surveillance

Laub, Karin and Jordans, Frank, "Chemical weapons caught in Syria war",, 13 October 2012, [24], Last Checked 26 October 2012.

  • "The U.S. and regional allies are closely monitoring Syria's chemical weapons - caught in the midst of a raging civil war - but options for securing the toxic agents stuffed into shells, bombs and missiles are fraught with risk."
  • "President Bashar Assad's embattled regime is believed to have one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the world. Fears have risen that a cornered Assad might use them or that they could fall into the hands of extremists, whether the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, an Assad ally, or al-Qaida-inspired militants among the rebels."
  • "Turkey's prime minister sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council on Saturday for its failure to agree on decisive steps to end the fighting, as NATO ally Germany backed the Turkish interception of a Damascus-bound passenger jet earlier in the week."
  • "Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Saturday with Arab and European leaders amid growing tensions between Turkey and Syria. He told reporters after the meetings that Turkey was prepared to use force again if it was attacked, just as it did last week when a shell fired across the border from Syria killed five Turkish villagers. "If a similar incident occurs again from the Syrian side, we will again take counter action," Davutoglu told reporters, while stressing that the border between Syria and Turkey is also the frontier of NATO."
  • "The price of military action against the arsenal is prohibitively high, Steven Bucci, a former senior Defense Department official, and others say. Airstrikes on chemical weapons depots could inadvertently release toxic clouds or expose them to looters. A ground operation would require thousands of troops, and the U.S. administration has pushed back on any suggestion of direct military action in Syria. Pinpoint operations by special forces could easily go wrong."
  • "The issue has been a topic in the U.S. presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has said he would send U.S. troops into Syria if needed to prevent the spread of chemical weapons, while President Barack Obama has said that movement or use of chemical weapons would have "enormous consequences."
  • "Syria's secrecy compounds the problem. Damascus hasn't signed nonproliferation agreements, long denying it has chemical weapons. Syria "is a black hole for us," said Michael Luhan of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, declining to give an estimate of the size of the arsenal because foreign inspectors are barred."
  • "A map by the Monterey think tank shows four production sites, one 12 miles southeast of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a major battleground where artillery attacks killing at least two were reported Saturday."
  • "Anxiety rose over the summer after the regime warned it might use chemical weapons against foreign attackers. Obama warned Assad that the threat of chemical warfare is a "red line" for the U.S. Even key Assad ally Russia told him to stand down. Analysts say the bigger threat is that the weapons fall into the wrong hands. Such worries over the fate of advanced weaponry were highlighted on Friday, when a shadowy militant group known as Jabhat al-Nusra joined Syrian rebels in seizing a government missile defense base."
  • "For now, the West's best options are deterrence and containment, analysts said. This includes warning the regime and the rebels of the dire consequences of using or losing control of chemical weapons and working with Syria's neighbors, particularly Jordan and Turkey, to prevent chemical weapons from being smuggled out of Syria. On Thursday, Jordanian officials confirmed that U.S. special operations forces and their Jordanian counterparts have been training at a compound some 50 miles from the Syrian border how to protect civilians from possible chemical attacks."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Military, U.S. Foreign Policy, Syria


McCarter, Mickey “GAO Makes Recommendations To Improve CFATS Chemical Facility Assessment.” April 4, 2013. HSTODAY.US. Last Checked April 14, 2013.

  • “At its current pace, it will take chemical facilities assessors at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) another seven to nine years to fully assess site security plans (SSPs) for high-risk security plants.”
  • “First, ICSD did not consider all criteria in designating a high-risk facility, as prescribed by the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, GAO said. The assessments of high-risk facilities focused largely on the loss of life that would occur in the area of a chemical plant if it were hit by a terrorist attack or natural disaster after an explosion released chemicals or a leak released chemicals into the environment.”
  • “But DHS did not consider the economic consequences of the loss of the plant or the destruction surrounding its loss.”
  • “GAO suggested an independent peer review of the resulting new processes would benefit ISCD and its designation of high-risk facilities.”
  • "Moving forward ISCD intends to measure the time it takes to complete reviews, but will not be able to do so until the process matures. GAO estimated that it could take another seven to nine years before ISCD is able to complete reviews on the approximately 3,120 plans in its queue which means that the CFATS regulatory regime, including compliance inspections, would likely be implemented in eight to 10 years."
  • “Many lawmakers considered CFATS, authorized in 2007, to be going well until an internal memo of November 2011 concluded the program was in disarray and spelled out an action plan to correct it.”
  • Chemical, Homeland Security, Chemical Surveillance

Editors, “Intel Chief Uncertain of U.S. Ability to Secure Syrian Chemical Weapons” Global Security Newswire. April 12, 2013. [25] Last checked April 15, 2013

  • ”The head of U.S. intelligence on Thursday said he was unable to confidently predict how much of Syria's chemical arsenal and other sensitive weapons could be safeguarded if President Bashar Assad's regime is abruptly ended.”
  • ”"It would be very, very situational dependent to render an assessment on how well we could secure any or all of the (weapons) facilities in Syria," he said.”
  • ”A U.S. military attempt to secure Syria's large, dispersed arsenal of nerve and blister agents would have to be done with the backing of regional partner nations and other states, according to Clapper.”
  • ”The Defense Department is understood to have begun preparing an emergency response plan for destroying Syria's chemical warfare materials to ensure they are not used in the civil war or allowed to fall into militant hands.”
  • ”Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday informed the House Armed Services Committee that "we have not detected use of chemical weapons," …"Obviously, if that line is crossed, then we've got a different situation. Then you get into the next set of dimensions to this, if chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands."”
  • ”"There are several examples where we are quite sure that shells with chemicals have been used in a very sporadic way," the diplomatic source asserted.”
  • ”Authorities in the village of Douma close to the Syrian capital said they have preserved the remains of six individuals killed in another alleged chemical assault.”
  • ”There are also 32 survivors of the attack that have volunteered to be checked out by the U.N. team, according to a letter sent to the team leader, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom.”
  • Syria, Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, UN

Coyle, Patrick “West Fertilizer CFATS Status” April 20, 2013. Chemical Security Facility News. Last Checked October 18, 2013.

  • “The West Fertilizer facility that blew up this week is not covered under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) because the facility had never filed a Top Screen which would have initiated a review of their terrorism risk by the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD). The Department is usually very reluctant to talk about such matters since it would violate the CFATS regulations if they discussed the status of a facility that was regulated.”
  • “The CFATS program was designed to regulate security at chemical facilities that are at high-risk of being attacked by terrorist. It was set up so that any facility that has an inventory of certain DHS chemicals of interest (COI; chemicals that could cause a catastrophic incident if released or detonated at the facility or could be used to make improvised explosives or chemical weapons) at or above a certain screening threshold quantity (STQ) is required to submit an online report called a Top Screen.”
  • “DHS takes this Top Screen information and reviews it to make a preliminary determination if the facility is at high-risk of a terrorist attack. There is a lot of discussion going on right now about how ISCD makes that determination.”
  • “Facilities that submit a Top Screen and subsequently determined not to be at high-risk of a terrorist attack are told they are not covered under the CFATS program and reminded that if their situation changes significantly they should re-submit a Top Screen.”
  • “The Department has received over 40,000 Top Screens since the program started in 2007 and less than 4,000 facilities are currently covered under CFATS. Most places are just not realistic terrorist targets.”
  • “In 2007 when the CFATS program became operational, it is very likely that he did not hear anything about it. Even if he did, he wouldn’t have considered his fertilizer distribution operation to be a chemical facility.”
  • “Now, how many other fertilizer distributors across the country have not submitted Top Screens?”
  • “Since one of the things that terrorists crave is publicity, the coverage of this incident may make the terrorist’s calculation of desirable targets slide towards favoring attacks on fertilizer distributors. It will be interesting to see if the folks at ISCD re-look at how they assess the release risk at these types of facilities.”
  • Chemical, Homeland Security, Chemical Surveillance

Barnes, Diane, "Chemical Arms Ban Nations Underline Fears on Syria" April 22, 2013. Global Security Newswire. [26] Last Checked April 22, 2013

  • "Member nations to an international chemical arms ban on Friday voiced “deep concern” over the alleged use of lethal agents in Syria's civil war, and they pressed Damascus and seven other governments to quickly join the accord "in the interests of enhancing their own national security.""
  • "The Syrian government has exchanged accusations with rebels regarding who was behind an alleged March 19 gas attack responsible for 31 deaths in the village of Khan al-Assal."
  • "Separately, U.S. intelligence agencies were said last week to be reviewing indications of multiple chemical strikes by Assad's forces."
  • "“The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be reprehensible and completely contrary to the legal norms and standards of the international community,” delegates said in a 29-page political declaration backed by consensus at the third Chemical Weapons Convention review conference, which concluded in the Netherlands on Friday."
  • "“Some states parties didn't want to talk about [the situation] because Syria is not a [Chemical Weapons Convention] state party and was not there to defend itself," but the treaty "really bans any use of toxic chemicals in warfare anywhere, anytime by any country regardless of whether they’re a state party or not," Walker told GSN on Monday."
  • "Russia last week reaffirmed plans to finish eliminating its chemical arms by 2015; earlier press claims suggested the process could drag out for an additional five years. Moscow as of late last year had destroyed 70 percent of the 44,000-ton stockpile that had once been the world's largest."
  • "Col. Muammar Qadhafi destroyed about half of Libya's declared mustard agent and precursors prior to the country’s 2011 revolution; the country’s new government has since reported additional materials and weapons never declared by its predecessor."
  • "Documents from the review conference are intended to set a five-year course for decisions by the organization's 41-nation Executive Council and by annual gatherings of states parties."
  • Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Syria, Russia, Libya, UN

DeYoung, Karen & Gearan, Anne “U.S. to scale up military support for Syrian rebels” June 14, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 6, 2013.

  • “The United States has concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in its fight against opposition forces, and President Obama has authorized direct U.S. military support to the rebels, the White House said Thursday.”
  • “U.S. intelligence had determined with ‘high certainty’ that Syrian government forces have ‘used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.’ Intelligence agencies estimate that 100 to 150 people have died as a result of chemical weapons use.”
  • “Obama said last year that confirmation of chemical weapons use would cross a "red line" for the United States.”
  • “Syria will be at the top of the agenda when Obama meets with leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations, including Russia, in Northern Ireland next week. Russia, Assad's primary arms supplier and diplomatic backer, has blocked harsher international action against him at the United Nations.”
  • “The Obama administration has provided more than $515 million in humanitarian and nonlethal military assistance to the Syrian opposition, including food and medicine. This week, the United Nations put the death toll in the conflict, which is in its third year, at more than 90,000. Millions have been displaced inside the country, and more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees are in neighboring countries.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

McCaul, M., Upton, F., Carter, J., “Letter to DHS from Congress of the United States.” July 22, 2013. Energy & Commerce Committee. Last Checked October 10, 2013. [27]

  • “In 2006, Congress authorized the creation of the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, to secure facilities with chemicals that ‘present high levels of security risk. The program’s enacting statute directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue regulations establishing risk-based performance standards for security of chemical facilities and requiring vulnerability assessments and the development and implementation of site security plans for chemical facilities.”
  • “The Government Accountability Office (GAO),’ the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General, and the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection itself have all recognized that, over the past five years, DHS’s ineffectual management and implementation of the CFATS program has frustrated the Department’s critical mission to secure America’s facilities containing chemicals of interest.”
  • “Specifically, the risk evaluation system used to tier regulated facilities is not consistent with the Department’s basic standard, nor with what Congress expected based upon the 2006 CFATS legislation and the 2007 regulations. The Department’s standard for risk requires that threat, vulnerability, and consequence each be weighed. Yet, with regard to CFATS-covered facilities, consequence is only partially considered, while threat and vulnerability are not factored in at all.”
  • “Yet, GAO estimates it could take up to nine years for the Department to review these plans and certify each facility’s security. Within that time, technology changes, plans become outdated, and facilities remain vulnerable to attack. The scope and pace of this backlog is simply unacceptable.”
  • “Perhaps the most basic step toward achieving the security of facilities with chemicals of concern is identifying those facilities that are at risk. Yet, even here, the Department has failed to implement an effective process.”
  • “The identification of facilities at risk of terrorist infiltration is the very foundation of the CFATS program.”
  • “As the Chairmen responsible for authorizing and funding CFATS, we are convinced the program should not continue in its present condition. While the need to secure American facilities with chemicals of concern is a critical one, the CFATS program is simply not getting the job done.”
  • “Over the course of this fiscal year, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the 1-lomeland Security Committee will continue the rigorous oversight and strict guidance needed to get CFATS on track. We intend to identify specific milestones the program must achieve in order to establish its viability. Ultimately, we would like to consider a multi-year reauthorization of CFATS — but only if it is the right program for the job.”
  • Chemical, Homeland Security, Chemical Surveillance

Gearan, Anne “U.N. to visit site of alleged Syrian chemical attack” August 26, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 4, 2013.

  • “Syria will allow weapons inspectors to visit the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians, the United Nations said Sunday, but the Obama administration said the offer of access is too little too late.”
  • “Top lawmakers said the time has come for a U.S. military response, one of the options under review by a White House feeling new pressure to act on President Obama's declaration that any use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" for the United States.”
  • “…Relief group Doctors Without Borders estimates that 355 people were killed and more than 3,600 were injured by a suspected nerve agent last week. If confirmed, it would be the worst chemical weapons attack since Saddam Hussein gassed more than 3,000 people in an Iraqi Kurdish village 25 years ago.”
  • “Obama ‘discussed possible responses’ with French President Franois Hollande on Sunday, the White House said. France's foreign minister said last week that the suspected gas attack should be met with force.”
  • “Adding urgency to the international deliberations, Jabhat al-Nusra, an opposition group in Syria that the United States deems a terrorist organization, said Sunday that the attack gives a green light for rebels to respond in kind.”
  • “The U.N. team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, will begin on-site work Monday and focus on "ascertaining the facts of the 21 August incident as its highest priority," the United Nations said.”
  • “Syria is known to possess mustard gas and internationally banned nerve agents such as sarin.”
  • “Russia, Syria's most powerful foreign patron, joined the U.N. call for an investigation last week. Russia also suggested that the rebels were at fault and on Sunday warned against U.S. military action or the "tragic mistake" of jumping to conclusions.”
  • “‘The fact that an attack has taken place is not going to be hard to establish; the hard part is going to be assessing blame,’ said Gary Samore, who until recently was the Obama administration's top adviser on arms control and weapons of mass destruction.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Lynch, Colum & DeYoung, Karen “U.S. efforts to build legal case for strikes run into questions” August 29, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 5, 2013.

  • “As the United States and its allies weigh limited military strikes against Syria, their lawyers have been exploring a range of legal frameworks for any operation, including propositions that members of the international community have the right to use force to protect civilians or to deter a rogue nation from using chemical weapons.”
  • “But the Obama administration's efforts to build a legal case are encountering skepticism from U.N. officials and other experts, including former Republican and Democratic State Department lawyers, who argue that the use of force against the Syrian regime, absent a U.N. Security Council resolution, would be illegal.”
  • “Kaye and other legal scholars say the U.N. Charter explicitly prohibits the use of force against other U.N. members, except in self-defense against an imminent threat or in an operation authorized by the 15-nation Security Council.”
  • “Although Britain said Wednesday that it would seek a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria, the prospects for approval appear dim, given firm opposition from veto-wielding members Russia and China.”
  • “Although it would be a stretch to argue that Syria's use of chemical weapons, if proven, constitutes a threat to the United States, the administration is also studying the possibility that U.S. force could be used in support of Syria's neighbors, including American allies Jordan and Turkey, if those governments invoke the right to self-defense against Syria.”
  • “The United States and its allies have frequently undertaken military actions without Security Council approval. In 1999, the Clinton administration led a NATO air war in Kosovo. About four years later, the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq without an explicit authorization from the U.N. Security Council.”
  • “Lawyers in both Republican and Democratic administrations have been concerned that a doctrine of humanitarian intervention could set a bad precedent that would be more likely to be used by other countries like Russia and China or some African countries, which could invoke the principle of "humanitarian intervention" in attacking their enemies.”
  • “Both the Kosovo operation and the 2011 air assault in Libya, in which the United States participated, were launched with consensus within NATO. The alliance's ambassadors have met to discuss the Syria situation. But the possibility of NATO intervention, which must begin with a request from a member nation under threat, has not yet been raised.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Faiola, Anthony “Western powers face skepticism at home over military action” August 29, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 5, 2013.

  • “Tepid domestic support in Parliament for fast action forced Cameron's government to back down from a planned vote Thursday that would have effectively paved the way for the immediate use of military force. Instead, the prime minister compromised with critics who thought that London was acting too hastily, promising to offer a watered-down measure Thursday that called for a second vote before strikes would be undertaken.”
  • “They also cited the chance that a strike could heighten violence in the region and drag allies into a more protracted operation, and lingering concerns that a blow against Assad's government could strengthen extremist groups fighting within the Syrian opposition.”
  • “Nations that have long resisted Western intervention in Syria, including Russia and Iran, were reasserting their opposition, saying the drumbeat was preempting the inspectors' work. Any military action, they insisted, would only escalate violence in the region.”
  • “On Wednesday, Devlet Bahceli, leader of Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party, called the push for action war-mongering. Without more details from the inspectors as well as U.N. backing, he told the Milliyet newspaper, any strikes would be a violation of international law and would not be moral.”
  • “In Britain, public skepticism appeared significantly greater. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times taken after the alleged chemical attack showed that 50 percent of those asked were opposed to British missiles being fired into Syria, with only 25 percent supporting such a move and 25 percent offering no opinion.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Editorial Board “The risk of doing nothing” September 1, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 5, 2013.

  • “A perception has been growing over the past week that President Obama has worked himself into a jam on Syria policy.”
  • “Possibly the largest constraint Mr. Obama is encountering as he contemplates military action in Syria stems from the intelligence blunder that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it and the governments of all its major allies, was convinced that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Most Americans, including this page, were convinced, too.”
  • “It is no surprise, and it is not a bad thing, that this time around people are demanding more evidence than they otherwise might.”
  • “The president repeatedly has told the American people that the era of war was ending, that the United States could concentrate on nation-building at home and that it had no vital interests in Syria as that nation collapsed into civil war and began to endanger its neighbors. Americans, and U.S. allies, too, naturally would want some explanation of why all that may have changed.”
  • “This time around, the United States may have few but the French on its side. A president who has stressed commitment to international law is faced with going it nearly alone and certainly without the U.N. Security Council, where Syria's abettors Russia and China stand in the way.”
  • “If Mr. Obama chooses to fire missiles at Syria, people will die, including some civilians, and unpredictable consequences will follow. There had better be good reason.”
  • “If the United States does not ensure that Syria faces consequences for crossing the line, no one will, and the U.S. response should be strong enough to prevent Mr. Assad from committing further atrocities.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Rucker, Philip & Englund, Will “Obama seeks to rally global support” September 4, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 5, 2013.

  • “At the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, the strife in Syria and uncertainty about Obama's plans are likely to overshadow an agenda focused on economic issues. Privately, Obama will try to persuade world leaders to support U.S.-led action in Syria - putting him at odds with the summit's host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key ally of the Syrian regime who will press his case against strikes.”
  • “Obama is planning to meet with French President Francois Hollande and Chinese President Xi Jinping , U.S. officials said. Experts said it will be difficult for him to gain support on Syria as long as the scope of possible strikes or whether Congress will authorize them remains uncertain.”
  • “Obama will begin his overseas trip Wednesday in Stockholm, where he intends to highlight trade alliances, global development and climate change. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and King Carl XVI Gustaf and eat dinner with leaders from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Rucker, Philip & Englund, Will “In Stockholm, Obama presses his case on Syria” September 5, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 6, 2013.

  • “President Obama took his campaign for a punitive military strike against Syria overseas on Wednesday, declaring that ‘the international community cannot be silent’ and that its credibility is on the line as his request for congressional approval of such action moved ahead in the Senate.”
  • “But Obama faced fresh resistance from Russia, Syria's stalwart patron, as President Vladimir Putin asserted that the West's case against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with respect to his regime's alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians is "absurd" and does not stand up to scrutiny.”
  • “‘I didn't set a red line,’ he told reporters. ‘The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty.’”
  • “Obama and his administration have said Assad is directly responsible for the alleged sarin gas attack on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21. But Putin said Syria poses no threat to the United States.”
  • “Putin also said he finds it unlikely that Assad would risk international repercussions by using long-banned chemical weapons to kill men, women and children.”
  • “Russia has blocked proposals for U.N. Security Council action against Syria. In the AP interview, Putin warned the United States against launching a unilateral strike and said Russia is developing a plan of action in case it does so without U.N. approval, although he declined to cite specifics.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Warrick, Joby “U.S. urgers Syria to provide access to nuclear sites” September 13, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 17, 2013.

  • “The Obama administration urged Syria on Thursday to come clean about its past nuclear research as well as its chemical arsenal, accusing President Bashar al-Assad of blocking access to facilities linked to a Syrian nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in 2007.”
  • “The top U.S. diplomat to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Syria's two-year-old civil war was no excuse for its failure to answer questions about its alleged nuclear program, which Western intelligence officials believe was on a path toward making nuclear weapons.”
  • “The three facilities have long been a focal point of an IAEA investigation into the size and scope of Syria's nuclear program, which is believed to have been halted by the 2007 Israeli air raid dubbed Operation Orchard. The presumed cornerstone of the program was the plutonium reactor built with North Korean help on the banks of the Euphrates River in Syria's eastern desert.”
  • “A report Thursday by independent nuclear researchers said ancillary facilities built to support the Syrian reactor could still contain uranium and other material of potential value to terrorist groups or black-market profiteers.”
  • “The report acknowledged that any uranium fuel remaining in Syria is not weapons-grade and could not be used in nuclear bombs without further processing. While Syria's thousands of chemical weapons remain a higher priority, its nuclear assets ‘deserve significant attention,’ the study said.”
  • “The collapse of government control over parts of Syria has brought new urgency to long-standing questions about the security of Syria's remaining nuclear assets. In February, Islamist rebel militias swept through the town of Deir al-Zour and posted videos of gun-toting fighters clambering over the site where the reactor had stood. The Marj as-Sultan region also has seen fighting between rebels and government forces in recent weeks.”
  • “‘If the United Nations Security Council places Syria's stocks of chemical weapons under international control, it should also address Syria's undeclared nuclear assets,’ the ISIS study said. ‘The goal should be to verifiably determine that the undeclared program and its assets are fully understood, rendered harmless, and dismantled.’”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

DeYoung, Karen & Lynch, Colum “U.N. team finds ‘clear’ evidence of sarin attack” September 17, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 20, 2013.

  • “U.N. inspectors found ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that large quantities of the nerve gas sarin were used last month in Syria, the first confirmation by an internationally recognized team of experts that a chemical weapons attack took place.”
  • “The inspection report, presented to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, does not assess blame for the attack. But underlying evidence included in the report, including the trajectory of poison-filled rockets, was cited by the United States and its Western allies as proof of the Syrian government's responsibility.”
  • "Eighty-five percent of the blood samples tested positive for sarin. A majority of the environmental samples confirmed the use of sarin. A majority of the rockets or rocket fragments recovered were found to be carrying sarin."
  • “Syria and Russia still say the Aug. 21 attack in the suburbs of Damascus was perpetrated by rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
  • “Inspection of Syria's estimated 1,000 metric tons of poison material would begin in November, with destruction to take place next year.”
  • “Also Monday, President Obama signed an order waiving arms-control restrictions on the export of protective equipment and the provision of training to Syria. The action allows the shipment of U.S. gear to the OPCW for use in Syria, and permits equipment and training to be provided to nongovernmental organizations working with Syrian civilians and to approved rebel groups to shield themselves against any further chemical attacks.”
  • “The U.S.-Russian road map also calls for a Security Council resolution that would punish Syria if it did not comply with the agreement.”
  • “The agreement specifically refers to a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which includes a provision on the use of force. But diplomats from Security Council member nations, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door discussions, said the resolution would more likely be governed by a different provision authorizing measures short of military action.”
  • “The diplomats referred to a Chapter 7 paragraph that suggests steps that include ‘complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.’”
  • “Sarin was identified in the majority of the fragments, as well as in environmental and biomedical samples, including blood, urine and hair from the victims.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation, OPCW

DeYoung, Karen “Kerry urges U.N. action as Syria deal hits rough spots” September 20, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 28, 2013.

  • “The U.S.-Russia agreement on Syria's chemical weapons appeared to be on shaky ground Thursday as Secretary of State John F. Kerry angrily called for U.N. Security Council action to back up the deal, ‘despite the efforts of some’ to deny Syrian government responsibility for last month's chemical attack outside Damascus.”
  • “Putin's statement, made at a conference northwest of Moscow, echoed comments by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who just a week ago negotiated an agreement with Kerry to have Syria turn over its chemical arsenal to international monitors for destruction. Assad, who has acquiesced to the agreement, made the same accusation against the rebels in a Fox News interview broadcast Wednesday.”
  • “The U.S.-Russia deal is not technically tied to acceptance of responsibility for the attack. But Russia's renewed emphasis on deflecting blame from the Syrian government has become the public face of an argument taking place behind closed doors at the U.N. Security Council about making Syria's disarmament commitment binding.”
  • “President Obama, who set aside his request for a skeptical Congress to approve unilateral U.S. military action against Syria in favor of the disarmament initiative, said last week that the process would include a U.N. resolution to ‘verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments.’”
  • “At Security Council meetings this week, Russia has refused even to discuss the draft resolution and has insisted that because Syria ‘voluntarily’ agreed to give up its chemical arsenal, any punishment for noncompliance should be considered only after the fact.”
  • “U.N. inspectors who visited the site of last month's attack said in a report this week that they found ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that chemicals were used.”
  • “The Security Council, he said, must be prepared to act next week, when nearly 200 heads of state, including Obama, will gather for the annual U.N. General Assembly. Without a council agreement, Syria is likely to become a tense centerpiece of the gathering.”
  • “Although Kerry and Lavrov have pledged to increase momentum toward finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict, they remain at odds over Western insistence that Assad must step down under any negotiated transition government. Russia, Assad's main diplomatic backer and arms supplier, has said that is an unacceptable precondition to talks between the government and the rebels.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Fisher, Max “Why Obama’s big U.N. speech on Syria was so awkwardly inconsistent” September 24, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 24, 2013.

  • “In his address to the United Nations on Tuesday, President Obama did his best to rally the organization to action on Syria. His case was forceful but, at moments, the logic seemed strained, even contradictory.”
  • “Obama has a habit of conflating his case for punishing chemical weapons use with his case for ending the war, and says we can do both at the same time. But he advocates contradictory actions in pursuit of those two goals.”
  • “To be clear, this is not to argue that Obama is hypocritical or somehow dishonest. But he's got a very tough needle to thread: he's trying to rally an action-resistant United Nations into very difficult and unpopular action; he's also trying to push it toward two very different forms of action.”
  • “If the United Nations Security Council failed to pass a sufficiently tough resolution to force Assad to give up his chemical weapons, Obama warned, ‘then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.’”
  • “On paper, Obama's two overriding goals in Syria are actually pretty straightforward. First, he wants to uphold the international norm against the use of chemical weapons, which he believes Assad violated by using chemical weapons against civilians on Aug 21. Second, he wants for Assad to step down voluntarily as part of a negotiated peace deal with the rebels that would also leave elements of Assad's government intact.”
  • “The problem, though, is that Obama has linked his two pursuit, saying that the one complements the other. "Our agreement on chemical weapons should energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria," he said. That's a bit of a contradiction: military force would undermine a peace deal, but it would force Assad to give up his chemical weapons and thus "energize" a peace deal.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation

Gearan, Anne & Lynch, Colum “U.N. Security Council approves resolution on Syrian arms” September 28, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked October 4, 2013.

  • “The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously late Friday to approve an ambitious plan requiring Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction, the first major diplomatic milestone reached more than two years after the start of the Syrian conflict.”
  • “U.S. and European diplomats conceded that some of their toughest wording aimed at compelling Syria to obey the council's demands and holding perpetrators to account for using chemical weapons was removed from the final resolution at Russia's insistence.”
  • “Still, the measure constituted the first legally binding action on Syria from the Security Council since the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in early 2011.”
  • “The agreement binds Syria to turn over its chemical arsenal but provides no automatic punishment if Syria balks. Enforcement would require further negotiation, setting up the prospect of more tussles between the United States and Russia.”
  • “The White House claimed victory, citing the prospect of weapons inspectors entering Syria as soon as next week to begin the work of auditing and dismantling the country's chemical stockpile.”
  • “Secretary of State John F. Kerry hailed the council action as a show of unity that promises the elimination of one of the world's largest chemical weapons stockpiles, one that had remained secret for decades. The United States and its allies say the arsenal was used in an Aug. 21 attack that killed about 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children, many as they slept.”
  • “He said that "violations" of the agreement and "the use of chemical weapons by anyone will have to be carefully investigated by the Security Council of the United Nations, which will impose penalties only in the event that violations are serious enough to merit punishment" and are ‘proven by 100 percent,’ a threshold that could be insurmountable.”
  • “Assad agreed to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program by the middle of 2014 under Russian pressure and following global outrage over the Aug. 21 sarin gas attack, the deadliest chemical attack in 25 years. The United States and its allies blamed the Assad government for the attack; Assad and his Russian backers said the rebels were responsible.”
  • “The resolution says Syria ‘shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons,’ or transfer them to others.”
  • “In the event of noncompliance, the resolution says, the Security Council can ‘impose measures under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.’”
  • “Shortly before the Security Council's vote, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons adopted a plan to send experts to inspect Syria's toxic munitions, which U.S. experts have described as a mix of nerve agents such as sarin and blister agents such as sulfur mustard. Approval by The Hague-based OPCW cleared the way for the Security Council vote.”
  • “The OPCW is scheduled to produce by Nov. 15 a timeline that details a series of disarmament milestones that Syria will be required to meet in order to ‘complete the elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.’”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation, OPCW

Lucas, Ryan “Chemical weapons inspectors enter Syria” October 2, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked October 4, 2013.

  • “An advance group of international inspectors arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin the ambitious task of overseeing the destruction of President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons program, a mission that must navigate the country's civil war as well as the international spotlight.”
  • “Nineteen inspectors from a Netherlands-based chemical weapons watchdog crossed into Syria from neighboring Lebanon on their way to Damascus to start finding, dismantling and ultimately destroying a chemical arsenal weighing an estimated 1,000 tons.”
  • “The experts have about nine months to complete their work, which has been endorsed by a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Syria's chemical stockpile to be eliminated by mid-2014.”
  • “Experts at The Hague, where the OPCW is based, said Sunday that the inspectors' top priority is to help Syria end its ability to manufacture chemical weapons by a Nov. 1 deadline, using every means possible. That may include smashing mixing equipment with sledgehammers, blowing up delivery missiles, driving tanks over empty shells or filling them with concrete, and running machines without lubricant so they seize up and become inoperable.”
  • “Within a week, a second group of inspectors is scheduled to arrive - fewer than 100 combined - and form teams that will fan out to individual sites.”
  • “Also Tuesday, a Syrian activist group that has been tracking the 30-month-long conflict put the death toll at more than 115,000. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said it has documented 115,206 people killed in the conflict. That tally includes 28,804 government troops, 18,228 pro-government militiamen and at least 21,531 rebels.”
  • Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation, OPCW

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