The liberal media and Government officials want us to believe N. Korea is ready to play nice… Low and behold aluminum tubes from N. Korea, which they presented as evidence that they did not have a covernt nuclear weapons program, tested positive with traces of enriched uranium

The Posts, liberal stance, is that the traces were contamination by other equipment… What other equipment, the equipment being used to enrich water…

N. Korea managed to run its clandestine program though the Clinton Presidency… Maybe they are just waiting for Hillary to take the reins and start up again. This past years news about N. Korea’s involvement in Iran and Syria should send up some warning signs… But alas the liberal media says it is not so…

WASHINGTON —  Traces of enriched uranium have been found on smelted aluminum tubing provided to the United States by North Korea in its effort to prove it was not operating a secret nuclear program, The Washington Post reported.

Citing U.S. and diplomatic officials, the Post said the discovery by U.S. scientists apparently contradicts North Korea’s claim that its acquisition of thousands of aluminum tubes were for conventional purposes rather than a nuclear program. Such tubes could be used in the process of converting hot uranium gas into fuel for nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. did not want to reveal the discovery of the uranium traces because it could expose intelligence methods and complicate diplomatic efforts aimed at North Korea, the Post said in a story posted on its Web site late Thursday. The office of the director of national intelligence and the State Department declined to comment on the discovery, the newspaper said.

The tubing could have been contaminated by exposure to other equipment rather than by an active enrichment program, the Post said, citing unidentified officials.

North Korea is expected to issue a declaration by the end of the month in which it outlines all its nuclear programs. Under an agreement with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, North Korea has begun disabling its main nuclear facilities.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Associated Press last week that the Bush administration was not ready to “engage broadly” with North Korea until its leadership ended all aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea and Iran “are clearly still states about which there are significant proliferation concerns,” Rice said

Hide And Seek With Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Another piece of missing NIE information. As many are already speculating, Iran is still running its nuclear weapons program. The NIE report surely seems damning of our government, but as the report states, Iran suspended its program in 2003. Key here is suspended. This is not the same as ended.

Well according to this report, which claims to have people inside Iran, the program is unsuspended and under the strictest covert cover. This is more believable than the complete dumping of the program. It would also indicate that diplomatic methods are not working. Have diplomatic efferts ever worked with Iran?

Iran needs to be shown force, that is the only thing this Jihadist regime understands. As for their 2003 suspension of their nuclear program, force is clearly their motive behind its suspension, the invasion of Iraq scarred the shit of the Iranians…

Since then threat of force has been deminished to nothing thanks to our liberal comrades in the US and UN. So Iran feels they are free to do as they please. The NIE report gives Iran just the cannon fodder they needed to through the anti-American and anti-Bush political movements into high gear.

In 10-15 years, hindsight will be 20-20 and people will be blaming Bush for not attacking Iran when he knew they were running this nuclear program all along.

Mr. Bush get some balls and turn up the pressure on Iran.

NEW YORK —  Iran did shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but restarted it a year later, moving and hiding the equipment to thwart international inspectors, according to an Iranian opposition group, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran exposed the country’s nuclear-fuel program in 2002 and now believes a newly released U.S. analysis is giving the wrong impression that Iran’s nuclear program is not an urgent threat, the newspaper reported.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate published last week said Tehran shut down its weaponization program in 2003, contradicting an earlier report that the Islamic Republic was determined to build a nuclear bomb.

Read the Wall Street Journal report (subscription required)

The NCRI, considered by the United States and European Union to be a terrorist organization, has had a mixed record of accuracy with its claims about Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the past, the Wall Street Journal said.

The NCRI, however, says it was added to the EU terrorist list under pressure from Tehran at a time when Western countries were trying to improve relations with Iran.

The group agrees that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council decided to shut down its most important nuclear weapons research center in eastern Tehran, called Lavisan-Shian, in August 2003, the Journal said.

But the group, which claims it has sources inside Iran, told the paper the facility was broken into 11 fields of research, including projects to develop a nuclear trigger and shape weapons-grade uranium into a warhead.

“They scattered the weaponization program to other locations and restarted in 2004,” Mohammad Mohaddessin, NCRI’s foreign affairs chief, told the Wall Street Journal.

“Their strategy was that if the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) found any one piece of this research program, it would be possible to justify it as civilian. But so long as it was all together, they wouldn’t be able to.”

By the time international inspectors were allowed to visit the Lavisan site, the buildings Iran claimed were devoted to nuclear research had been torn down and the ground bulldozed, the paper reported.

The NCRI said the equipment was moved to another military compound known as the Center for Readiness and Advanced Technology, to Malek-Ashtar University Isfahan and to a defense ministry hospital in Tehran.

NIE Gaps Missing

Michael Tanji posted a very insightful piece on Threatswatch.org regarding the latest NIE report. Mr. Tanji, a former intel analyst points out the missing ingredient that leave open a doorway to disaster in our national security.

As Mr. Tanji points out, the intel community left out variables they do not know from the report, which means that future intel reports may not be accurate because they will be looking for the wrong information.

Also of concern is the fact that of the 150 page report, only a 4 page summary has been released to the public. Can a true interpretation of the intel be comprehended by this summary and is this more of a partisan play that highlights only the anti-Bush agenda… The questionable intelligence in the report may show more of a concern for what Iran is doing, but that is not at our disposal.

There is Value in Recognizing Ignorance

By Michael Tanji | December 10, 2007

Ample ink has been spilled by both ends of the political spectrum on what the latest NIE on Iran’s nuclear capabilities means. Partisans in both camps have reason to love and hate the thing, or more precisely what they think is in the thing, given that we are dealing with just four pages of unclassified and high-level conclusions from 150 pages of narrative and supporting material. The folly of judging important books by their covers notwithstanding, one question remains to be asked: with all that may be wrong with an NIE, what should be done to make them more right?

By “right” I do not mean what political slant they should take (ideally, none). To a certain extent I do not even mean how correct they should be. By “right” I mean how accurately they explain what is known and more importantly what is unknown.

Allow me to explain.

As a former intelligence analyst I recall a time when an enlightened boss with sufficient bureaucratic muscle would allow analysts to include a section in their assessments labeled “intelligence gaps.” “Key judgments” are the intelligence community’s version of the outside world’s “executive summary.” I’m not aware of a parallel to “intelligence gaps,” since like most authors trying to convey expertise, intelligence officers do not like to suggest that there is something they don’t know.

The importance of the gaps section in an intelligence assessment cannot be understated. It was not simply a laundry list of factors that you were ignorant about; it served as a management tool that would help craft future collection requirements. Satellites not taking pictures of the right sites? Not recruiting agents in the right locations or asking them the right questions? By pointing out where collection was coming up short and how you were under-serving policymakers, you justified your request for a change in tactics and demonstrated your willingness to respond to consumer needs.

This wasn’t a one-way street. Collectors get more credit when the gather information of high value. One report with a breakthrough piece of information is worth infinitely more than 20 reports telling you some variation on what you already knew. By providing what analyst’s needed, collectors ended up helping themselves. Likewise, if the list of unknowns grew smaller, consumers could better determine if intelligence was serving their needs and bolster their confidence in our assessments.

Of course like any exercise conducted in a bureaucracy, this collector-analyst feedback process was spotty at best. You had to make a serious effort to carve out the time the fill out evaluations and in a job that is often nothing but juggling one “must do now” task after another, collector feedback was often viewed as a housekeeping task that could be put off, usually indefinitely. As much as anything, this internal intelligence failure contributes to the community’s sorry record of gathering meaningful intelligence on a wide variety of targets, particularly hard targets like Iran.

There are many ways to tackle an intelligence problem analytically, but what makes or breaks an intelligence assessment is the information available to be analyzed. One unimpeachable source on one discrete topic can make for a very confident assessment indeed, but few intelligence problems are so narrow and simple. Read the key judgments of this latest NIE backwards to see what I mean. Viewed in this fashion it says, “We are not terribly confident in these discrete elements, but when we view them as a whole our confidence is boosted.” That’s akin to an airline mechanic signing off on the airworthiness of a jetliner knowing that almost everything he just inspected is dodgy. Who wants to board the plane first?

As mentioned previously, the full NIE is 150 pages long, so enough collection may not be a problem. However, the fact that the authors make such an effort to couch and caveat what they think they know indicates that they are making up for a great deal of ignorance. Should we be satisfied with such ambiguous and circumspect descriptions of the information our nation’s leaders will be using to make the critical decisions of our time?

Your author has commented elsewhere on what he feels is really at work with this NIE. While it may very well be a partisan political agenda made manifest, experience suggests that the intelligence community is doing its utmost to avoid another public failure on par with Iraq’s WMD programs (or India’s nuclear weapons test, or the collapse of the Soviet Union, etc.). This includes but is not limited to using every linguistic trick in the book to ensure that anything written about any intelligence problem could be looked at in hindsight as “right” if interpreted in a particular way.

The community owes the leaders of our country, regardless of their political affiliation, better.

People laughed at former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when he spoke of the problem of “unknown unknowns.” Odd as his verbiage was, he was driving home the point that you cannot make sound decisions about national security if you are in any way ignorant of your adversary’s intentions and activities. Does anyone really think that one of our toughest intelligence targets suddenly became transparent or is it more likely that there is more going on here than meets the eye?

Anyone in the current administration – and any aspiring presidential candidate – that is interested in leaving a noteworthy imprint on the intelligence community should make mandatory the inclusion of intelligence gaps in every NIE and major intelligence product. Our adversaries do not need to know what we don’t know, but the community would be doing itself and its customers a great service by remembering the significance of ignorance.

Liberal Doves Wary Of NEI Conclusion On Iran’s Nuclear Program

Wow another news story I never thought I would see happen… It appears that Bush’s assertion that Iran is a danger is not overblown….

Some experts fear the intelligence estimate will sap international pressure to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons.

By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 7, 2007

WASHINGTON — The new U.S. intelligence report that says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 is suddenly raising concerns among the political center and left, as well as conservatives who have long called for a hard line against the Islamic Republic.

Moderate and liberal foreign policy experts said that U.S. intelligence agencies, possibly eager to demonstrate independence from White House political pressure, may have produced a National Intelligence Estimate that is more reassuring than it should be on the potential risks of the Iranian nuclear program.

Isfahan

Isfahan

 click to enlarge

The report, made public Monday, contradicted the Bush administration’s assertion that Iran has been secretly working to build nuclear weapons. It also found that Tehran, which says it is enriching uranium solely for civilian energy purposes, appears to have a pragmatic view and has responded to outside pressure and economic sanctions, in contrast to characterizations by administration hawks.

For years, President Bush’s anti-Tehran vitriol has drowned out the more circumspect voices in the U.S. foreign policy establishment who nonetheless agree Iran poses a concern. But with this week’s report, many experts worried that the pressure they believe is needed to counter Tehran now may dissipate.

Iran expert Ray Takeyh, a former professor at the National War College and National Defense University, said that although his own politics are left of the president’s, he agrees with Bush that Iran’s nuclear program is a continuing threat.

“The position I take is that President Bush is right on this,” said Takeyh, now at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Takeyh, who has long argued for engaging Iran in diplomacy, said the intelligence report was too easy on Tehran by not objecting to the uranium enrichment program, which many Western governments have alleged is meant to build the knowledge base to eventually develop nuclear weapons. The American intelligence agencies, in effect, accepted Iran’s contention that the enrichment is for peaceful purposes, Takeyh said.

After the report’s release, Bush pledged to maintain pressure on Iran and lobbied for international support. On Thursday, French and German leaders meeting in Paris said they favored continued pressure, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not commit herself to backing harsher United Nations sanctions sought by the United States.

The new U.S. intelligence estimate has made any new economic sanctions unlikely, most analysts agree, since it has given nations such as Russia and China a reason to give the benefit of the doubt to Iran, their ally and business partner. As a result, experts of varying political affiliations in Washington believe that efforts to successfully apply pressure on Iran have been hurt by the report.

At the same time, they say, it is questionable whether the Islamic Republic has been responsive to international pressure, as the report suggests.

Sharon Squassoni, a former government nuclear safeguards expert now with the generally liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, noted that the intelligence report said Iran suspended its enrichment program in 2003 and later signed an agreement allowing U.N. inspections.

But, she said, the portion of the report made public was silent on the fact that the Iranians reversed both actions in 2006.

The ability to develop fissile materials is the most important element of a nuclear weapons program, she told reporters.

Gary Samore, who was a top arms control official in the Clinton White House, agreed that the National Intelligence Estimate did not adequately emphasize Iran’s continuing efforts to enrich uranium and build missiles.

The halting of the weaponization program in 2003 is less important from a proliferation standpoint than resumption of the enrichment program in 2006,” said Samore, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Samore said the report undermined Bush’s warnings about Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons and left Tehran in a strong position, allowing it to develop its enrichment capacity without a substantial challenge from the United States and its allies. The secret weaponization program is “on ice,” he said, but Iran preserves the option to resume that when it wishes.

Though American intelligence officials believe Iran has been enriching uranium at a concentration that could only be used for civilian energy purposes, analysts fear that the same basic technology could eventually be used to kick-start a weapons program.

Anthony Lake, who was a national security advisor to President Clinton, found no fault with the intelligence report. But he said a key message was the importance of taking action.

While we’ve got more time, we’ve got to use the time, because the enrichment activities are continuing,” Lake said in an interview.

The new report repeats a number of the same cautions and conclusions in its last major assessment, in 2005, when the agencies reached the vastly different conclusion that Iran was determined to develop nuclear weapons. But the new report stresses the more recent findings that cast doubt on Tehran’s determination to build a bomb.

As a result, conservatives have denounced the report.

John R. Bolton, the hawkish former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has called for a congressional investigation of the report, which he said is flawed.

In a Washington Post op-ed column Thursday, Bolton alleged that many of the officials involved were “not intelligence professionals but refugees from the State Department” brought in by J. Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence.

Norman Podhoretz, the right-wing commentator who has advocated a U.S. military strike on Iran and who is a foreign policy advisor to Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign, accused the intelligence community of purposefully “leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush.”

paul.richter@latimes.com

Syria’s Biological Clock Ticking Away

This article is a must read for anyone who takes our nations security, as well as the security of the world, seriously… Syria and N. Korea are one of the worlds biggest problems… Now the only think that needs to be clarified is Iran’s heavy involvement in all this, between their work with the North Koreans and their recent “accident” that explosed their involvement in Syria’s chemical warefare program, the are just as involved as N. Korea.

Also do not forget that intel showed much of Iraq’s NBC programs going into Syria before the invasion..

When news leaked out of the September 6th Israeli Air Force and commando raid on a Syrian Nuclear facility followed by revelations about the deaths of dozens of Iranians and Syrians in a Chemical warfare missile accident in July the world was jarred. Recently, it was revealed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) had aided Syria in its chemical warfare programs. I noted in a recent interview with former US UN Ambassador John Bolton his early concerns about the Syrian Bio Warfare threat. Questions arose, specifically about the size, nature and danger of the Syrian bio-warfare military programs. For answers and professional views on how extensive the Syrian bio-warfare threat is, we turned to Dr. Jill Dekker, a consultant to the NATO Defense Establishment in bio-warfare and counter terrorism. Dr. Dekker is also a member of the board of advisors of the Intelligence Summit.

Dr. Dekker’s answers give a foreboding picture of how large and refined the Syrian bio-warfare programs are and how little Western Intelligence knows about how the programs were developed. The potential exists for a significant WMD threat in the Middle East and the West, especially, against America. Syria is a proxy ally of Iran, North Korea (DPRK) and terror groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Thus, the supply of bio-weapons and delivery platforms that could results in mass casualties makes it a real and present danger.

We were pleased that Dr. Dekker took time out from her professional work to answer questions about the Syrian bio-warfare establishment and WMD threat.

Jerry Gordon: Tell us briefly about your professional background and research background in Bio-warfare.

Jill Dekker: Well, I started working on bio-safety several years ago under the guidance of a colleague at the World Health Organization in Geneva and the concern then was Laboratory Acquired Diseases (LAD’s) and how best to protect workers and the environment from accidental exposure to dangerous pathogens. There were few national requirements to report sharps and sticks accidents as well as other accidents. If you recall Vector in Novosibirsk Russia had an accident with a senior scientist who subsequently contracted Ebola-Vector failed to report the incident until 12 day had passed and by then it was too late for the US team en route to save her life. I also worked on notification for zoonotic diseases (transmissible from animal to human) to public health authorities. Back then in the EU emergency animal disease outbreaks, even with public health consequences, were only notified to the OIE, which is the World Organization for Animal Health. There was little regulation on the reporting of public health cases of Campylobactor, Listeriosis, E-coli 0157 and or strains of Salmonella. Keeping in mind here that with the exception of variola (smallpox) nearly all Category A biological warfare pathogens are zoonotic. I then worked with several organizations involved with the UN Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in Geneva. It was during this work in 2000 that I really came to understand the threat state biological weapons programs posed.

In 2001, when the US suffered its anthrax attacks, everything changed. We went from looking at bio-safety as an aspect of protecting workers and the environment, to bio-security and trying to safe-guard High Consequence Pathogens mainly in P3 and P4 facilities from terrorists. The P4 or Biological Safety Level 4 (BSL4) before 2000 were usually associated with national defense programs. A P4 laboratory or is the highest level of laboratory containment for handling mainly warfare agents or what might be considered battle strains. We went from bio-safety to developing various interventions to prevent the theft, diversion and sale of High Consequence Pathogens by terrorists from laboratories. After the US postal attacks, institutions such as Sandia, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and the World Health Organization in Genève were instrumental in developing this concept of “bio-security” or protective measures for laboratories. Bio-security has remained a focus in the United States and Europe. Events over the last three or four years have shifted the perception of bio-security significantly. While bio-security is certainly still on the agenda, the relationship of states and terrorists has changed. I now focus on state supported bio-terrorism whereby pathogens don’t need to be stolen or diverted. A state warfare lab, such as exists in Iran and Syria today, could easily provide their terrorist surrogates with the most advanced biological agents for covert operations. This is far more likely and would be far more devastating in terms of kill ratios than some lone terrorist group trying to weaponize pathogens without state support or a warfare laboratory.

Gordon: You are currently a consultant with the NATO Defense Establishment, what are your principle duties?

Dekker: For the past few years, I’ve developed a number of programs which NATO supports and in which NATO is a full participant. Additionally, I represent both governmental and defense industry clients who are interested in collaboration with supranational military structures such as NATO, US Dept. of Defense or Ministries of Defense on this side of the Atlantic. I’ve also worked on national assessments of Mid-East bio-warfare programs and as a strategic advisor for McKenna, Long and Aldridge, LLP in Washington D.C. on their Bio-Defense practice. I have consulted with the Public Health Preparedness program for the European Homeland Security Association under the French High Committee for Civil Defense. I developed and ran war games for this program.

Gordon: You have written and presented extensively to international groups in the US, EU and Middle East on Syrian Bio-warfare. How did you get interested in the subject?

Dekker: Initially, I became interested in looking at bio-safety standards mainly of East European laboratories and the types of pathogens which were being transported pretty much without regulation to other nations in Africa and the Mid-East. The World Health Organization, which I consulted with, was interested in these areas as well. Some laboratories in Africa and the Mid-East tend to have a lower level of bio-safety containment. A P4 is extremely expensive to build and maintain so nations with fewer resources tend to work on their bio-warfare programs in labs which may not be suitable. In the course of this two things happened; I was looking at issues related to the Soviet programs, what pathogens they may have provided to Iraq, Syria, Iran and the DPRK, specifically I was looking at their smallpox and botulinium programs. Then in Afghanistan, you may recall, the US recovered documents which Al Qaeda had on their bio-programs. I moved from an interest in bio-safety and bio-security to looking at the threat state biological warfare labs pose and the types of criteria we need to assess them. Most biological weapons research is dual use. It is quite difficult to determine if it falls within the BTWC, which allows defensive research, or if it is “offensive” which is prohibited. These programs are usually a nation’s most sensitive weapons sections. Thus, it can be very difficult, but not impossible, to estimate how advanced they are.

Gordon: What have your investigations revealed about the level of commitment and investment in Bio-warfare programs by the Syrian military establishment?

Dekker: Contrary to how the US State Department and other agencies tend to downplay the sophistication of the Syrian biological and nuclear programs, they are very advanced. Syria has always had the most advanced chemical weapons program in the Middle East. The US and other western agencies have in a sense been distracted by this, but their biological programs and the “concept of use” are robust. Syria’s biological weapons capability today is closely tied to the former and current Soviet and Russian programs respectively, the DPRK, Iran and the former Iraq regime. A major concern is their strategic concept of use – which has gone from one of ‘special weapons’ to incorporation into their ‘conventional arsenal.’ That is a significant shift and one that seems to have eluded the US. The Syrians run their biological programs out of the Syrian Scientific Research Council (SSRC) in Damascus. They have separate wings for separate pathogens. They also have a number of programs running in Aleppo. The Syrians are 100% committed to deniable operations as their modus operandi. Biological weapons, particularly those which might occur naturally, are the ultimate in deniability, for example, their cryptosporidium program for force reduction. The Wednesday Report noted a few years ago that in terms of the Syrian anthrax program, Syria has extensive expertise in the industrial cultivation of germs and viruses for the civilian production of anthrax (and smallpox) vaccines. It also noted that Russian experts, contracted by Syria, are apparently helping them to cultivate a highly virulent anthrax germ for installation in missile warheads. Their pharmaceutical infrastructure is fully integrated with their defense structure. Syrians cannot reach parity with US and Israeli conventional weapons. However, they view their bio-chemical arsenal as part of a normal weapons program. This is a huge shift in thinking by the Syrian military. It means they condone the use of biological pathogens as ‘offensive’ weapons. NATO and the United States should be very concerned about that re-designation.

Gordon: What external resources did the Syrian military establishment draw upon to develop its Bio-warfare capabilities?

Dekker: The Syrians work on most Category A pathogens: anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin, camelpox. Some of these they acquired during natural outbreaks, others they acquired from the Soviets, Russians, DPRK, Iran and Iraq. Some of these pathogens such as their botulinium program have their own facilities and sections within chemical weapons institutes and defense labs; others are in veterinary vaccine research facilities and have a ‘latent’ component. Keep in mind ‘defensive’ biological research is completely legal and prior to the 1980’s it was normal to trade in pathogens, even dangerous ones. Although the US gave up its bio-warfare program in the 1960’s, the BTWC of 1972, ratified in 1976, had no verification mechanism. Offensive programs were not that uncommon. The Soviets hid theirs (Biopreparat) and it was massive. US intelligence agencies denied the Soviets could possibly have such a massive program – even after the defection of high level scientists- such Vladimir Pasechnik. You have to wonder at what point they are going to sharpen up and see that nations like Syria also have a robust advanced biological weapons program. Things have changed with genetic modification and other technologies which make the need to ‘stockpile’ biological weapons obsolete. The Syrians are intent on having a very agile program; additionally they work on a number of crash programs. Thus, we see a progression from the old Soviet days of bio-weapon development to a far more contemporary way in which the Syrians have made tremendous gains from the Soviets and more recently the Russians and the DPRK. The Syrians also acquired some of their dual-use technologies completely legally when companies such as Baxter and other bio-pharma concerns were developing factories in Damascus. The majority of their bio-programs stocks have come from Russia, Iran and the DPRK.

Gordon: We heard that some of the late Saddam Hussein’s Bio-warfare research and pathogens may have been transferred to Syria during Operation Enduring Freedom. Is that accurate to your knowledge, and who facilitated the transfer? What types of bio-warfare agents and materials might have been transferred?

Dekker: Yes. It is important to remember that the Iraqi programs were far more advanced at the time than what the Syrians had, and were developing. The delivery of certain pathogens in a ‘weaponized’ form taught the Syrians new techniques they previously had not mastered. This is very problematic. I am less concerned about the types of pathogens or specific pathogens as these were available to Syria from other sources. What Hussein’s transfer taught the Syrians was more sophisticated ways of weaponization and dispersal. I believe Russian special ops- their Spetsnaz teams – transported sections of the programs. Remember these are not MIRVed ICBM’s we are talking about – you don’t need to stockpile biological weapons. It is the quality of the pathogen and ‘weaponization’ or aerosolization, milling processes that count, not the quantity. I don’t believe they moved some biological arsenals into the Baqaa Valley in Lebanon, perhaps sections of their chemical and nuclear weapons, but not the biological programs. Those are much too sensitive to dump in the desert. They must be carefully maintained in a defense laboratory. If you take something like Bot – I gram of crystalline Botulinium is estimated to kill about a million people if it were evenly dispersed – you don’t want to bury it out in the desert.

Gordon: To your knowledge what pathogens and toxins are the Syrian bio-warfare establishment developing and what is their propensity to produce mass casualties?

Dekker: Syria posesses Category A, B, and C pathogens and toxins. To my knowledge the most problematic program, I believe was transferred, was the Iraqi camelpox program – the fact that Iraq had this program in the first place is a problem. That it was one of their major programs, which UNMOVIC had detailed the first time around, is a big problem. It’s a problem because camelpox research and other types of orthopox research can and have been used as a safe substitute for conducting smallpox research. A particular issue I have with smallpox research conducted in rogue states is that these programs most likely are not based on vaccine preventable strains. So the US national strategic stockpile of smallpox vaccine, which has cost the US tax payers billions of dollars to stockpile, may be totally non-efficacious against a battle strain developed in Syria, Iran or the DPRK. There were reports a few years back, that something like the India 1 strain, which is considered exceptionally virulent, can be prevented with modern attenuated vaccine. However, this is first of all not an absolute and secondly India 1 which is associated with the 1971 Smallpox outbreak in Aralsk, Kazahkstan which came from Vozrozhdenie Island may not resemble genetically modified strains. It creates a false sense of security to think that out of 128 strains, only four (the most prevalent previously naturally occurring strains) are the ones rogue states would choose to reintroduce smallpox. It is naive to think that states developing weapons of mass destruction are going to select a strain we can prevent. The Soviets ramped up their work on smallpox once they knew the WHO had declared it eradicated and that the United States had ceased vaccination against it. The US national stockpile is based primarily on the Ankara strain (Modified Vaccinia Ankara). Syria also has high capacity samplers now that are exceptionally useful in field testing biological weapons, again, another possible acquisition from Iraq. They have recently mastered different types of dispersal methods which may have come from the Iraqi programs. As I previously mentioned, Syria works ‘offensively’ on most Category A bio-warfare pathogens as do a number of other states.

Gordon: To your knowledge have Syrian Bio-warfare programs been supplied by Russian, West German and even American research and technical processing entities?

Dekker: Yes, several West European nations (Germany, the UK, Holland, France), the US and Russia were trading partners of Syria and supplied technologies which could and were used for offensive programs. At that time it was not illegal – the only firm I know specifically which seems to have caught the attention of the US Dept. of Justice was Baxter Pharmaceutical. At the moment the main bio-pharma trading partners are the DPRK and Russia. The Iranians have supplied scientific teams which will advance their weapons knowledge. The Syrians have also been somewhat successful at third party bidding through countries in Africa.

Gordon: How extensive has the Syrian Bio-warfare program become and who in their military and defense establishment is directing and controlling its development?

Dekker: The Syrian biological warfare programs are administratively run under the SSRC in Damascus. They have one of the most highly developed pharmaceutical industries in the Mid East. It is overseen by the Ministry of Defense under General Talas and their intelligence services. This is rather unusual as most western pharmaceutical firms are overseen by a Ministry of Public Health. There is also Saydalaya which is their foreign procurement board for all chemical and biological imports. I would say the Syrian bio-pharma sector is highly interfaced with the defense establishment. They also have a number of veterinary institutes – again oversight is from the Ministry of Defense.

Gordon: What means of delivery does Syria have available for its bio weapons?

Dekker: Well they’ve mastered micro-encapsulation which is necessary for aerosol dispersal. They have experimented with parachute dispersal techniques for orthopox based on Soviet methods. They are also developing micro aerosol dispersal technologies which have no military application. This is probably the most alarming as it is designed for terrorist use. They are also looking at amplifying virulence. Syria wants to develop a very high quality arsenal and a very agile one, hence their crash programs. They do of course have a sophisticated chemical weapons program for which missile delivery is far more complementary. Remember, if you are preparing to do a covert release of a biological agent you don’t necessarily want to use something as traceable as a crop sprayer. The Syrians are perfecting advanced dispersal technologies that will be for use against civilians but far more sophisticated than the use of a crop duster.

Gordon: How much of a threat is the Syrian Bio-warfare capability to Israel and US forces in the Middle East, e.g. Iraq?

Dekker: Syria poses an immediate and imminent threat to the United States and Israel. The most likely use of their biological weapons arsenal against Israel would be to reduce IDF fighting forces prior to an attack on the Golan. It’s conceivable they could incapacitate the IDF for a few days even with a non-lethal pathogen or repetitively weaken civilians in Lebanon, where the water supplies are unprotected. This could be an optimum use of their bio-arsenal. That might not be as catastrophic as some fear, but it would be very effective. Obviously, there are more serious scenarios one can imagine in terms of deniability, if they have produced vaccines to protect their military and maybe their civilians against more lethal strains of virus such as smallpox. The immediate threat is their ability to reduce fighting forces. They have a strain of pneumonia that is probably very effective and they had a crash program on cryptosporidium prior to last year’s war in Lebanon. If you look at regions in Lebanon with known concentrations of anti-Syrian civilians, it may be possible for Syria to contaminate water distribution systems with a pathogen like Crypto which is impervious to chlorine and will pass through most filtration systems. Such a contamination could infect significant sections of a population. Even in the United States, there have been natural outbreaks. There is no treatment available, so it could have quite an impact. There are other concerns such as the use of pre-deployed biological agents in the event that Iran is attacked by the United States. Again, here we should pay close attention to how the Soviets planned for Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). They planned their smallpox program specifically in the event of MAD so that smallpox would wipe out whoever was left. It’s not beyond reason to consider that the Syrians and Iranians have engaged in such contingency planning

Gordon: Does the Syrian Bio-warfare establishment have co-operative weaponization programs on-going with Iran, Sudan and other terrorist sponsoring states?

Dekker: Similar to Iran’s collaboration on their nuclear testing with the DPRK, Syria has joint efforts for field testing their biological agents. It appears they have done some field testing with the cooperation of Khartoum. There is also evidence to suggest they have conducted tests on sections of their prison populations. Iranian scientific teams are known to work within the SSRC system on bio-warfare programs and certainly they have high level exchanges on their chemical and nuclear programs. Russia has sent scientists recently to work within their bio-chem programs.

Gordon: We noted Israeli and some mainstream media reports about an alleged chemical warfare accident in July 2007 that took place in Syria and killed ‘dozens of Iranian and Syrians technicians and officials.’ Are you able to confirm that through your sources? Have there been equivalent technical accidents in the Syrian Bio-warfare programs?

Dekker: There have been a number of accidents with their biological weapons programs that have killed civilians in the past in cities like Homs and Aleppo. The July 2007 accident was a far more serious and immediate one. As is the case with chemical munitions, the types of previous accidents took time to develop and tended to produce chronic symptoms. Some of those programs were ended and it appears that casualties from former bio-programs were related to ventilation problems. This latest accident appears to have occurred while they were mounting a warhead. Syria is known to have a stockpile of chemical weapons and accidents happen. It is interesting to note that Iranian scientists were involved in that activity.

Gordon: How much does the US Bio-warfare establishment and intelligence community know about the Syrian Bio-warfare threat?

Dekker: It is similar to the US negligent underestimation and denial that the Soviets had a massive biological weapons program. The US Intelligence Community negligently underestimates and denies the sophistication of the Syrian biological weapons programs which is very unfortunate. I think it has been very difficult for the US Intelligence Community to procure knowledgeable sources due to internal institutional problems. Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton has tried since 2001 to warn the US about the threat the Syrian biological weapons programs poses. His warnings have fallen on deaf ears. I hope Israel is helping the United States because it would appear the US is really not up to this challenge. The US public should demand that our military is first and foremost protected. Every soldier should carry Factor Seven and should be vaccinated against smallpox, have botulinium anti-toxin available and anthrax vaccine. This should be standard protection for our military personnel operating in the Middle East. Obviously in other areas we need counter medical measures to prevent VHF’s (Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers). The US public needs to be informed that the intelligence community is falling far short here in protecting them. Other US allies are not, they are up to speed. Again as an American citizen it is unbelievable to see such negligence in the US intelligence community. Having lived in Europe for 20 years and working as a defense consultant on Category A warfare agents, this is not the standard approach of other NATO nations. There is something deeply disturbing with the US approach. Time will tell as unfortunately it did with 9/11.

Gordon: In your opinion, what has prevented the US from recognizing the significance of the Syrian bio-warfare threat and developing effective counter measures?

Dekker: I believe there is a specific mind-set within the US intelligence community which makes it difficult for them to procure sources in the Middle East and of course the lack of language ability is a problem for them as well. I’ve lived outside the US for nearly 20 years now and what I’ve seen in their approach is not reassuring. Most of their experienced officers are gone. The US State Dept. moves their staff about every three years which is not compatible with building long-term relationships. They appear not to have the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) resources required for long term assessment of WMD programs. Because they have not taken appropriate defensive measures in view of the potential consequences of a WMD attack, they have left the US exposed. It’s also problematic that the US relies heavily on technology and has done so for a number of years. Biological weapons cannot be assessed by satellites anymore. Perhaps during the old Soviet era but now science has moved beyond this. I believe the US incompetence in this field and its arrogance could eventually lead to a successful strike on the US by a rogue nation-possibly in the very near future.

Another problem for the United States as a result of their inability to assess Syrian programs accurately is their failure to inform the US public on the real threat they face. The smallpox program is a case in point. The US may not be able to protect its citizens with its ‘treasured’ national strategic stockpile of smallpox vaccine. Who wants to be the one to come out and announce that to the US public? Who wants to say they have no idea how advanced the Syrian Botulinium or Plague programs are because they don’t have any access? It would be very unpopular if the US public knew they were potentially defenseless and that the people charged with protecting them had dropped the ball again. What is disconcerting is they don’t seem to be able to recognize, acknowledge and correct their prior mistakes, such as the denial of the Soviet Biopreparat programs. If they don’t start taking Mid-East biological weapons programs more seriously the U.S. is likely to suffer far worse attacks than 9/11. The US intelligence community is inadequately equipped to deal with this threat.

Gordon: Could Bio-weapons developed by the Syrian military establishment be used as WMD producing significant mass casualties in Israel, the EU and here in America?

Dekker: Yes, Syria is very good at conducting covert operations. They have a number of technologies available which they could provide to either Special Forces or terrorists who could release them in airports, other transportation hubs, airplane ventilation systems and that would cause mass casualties. I certainly believe they have very advanced biological weapons capabilities and we are at a point where there really aren’t any technological obstacles for them to overcome in dispersal or deployment. This is why intelligence is so vital in this area. It is probably the last line of defense, so to neglect it, or deny that one should allocate resources for prevention, is odd. Some biological weapons use pathogens which don’t need to be ‘weaponized’. This requires specialized intelligence techniques not used for tracking chemical or nuclear weapons. Of all the countries Israel is by far the most prepared to handle the release of biological weapons. The nations of Western Europe are unevenly prepared and the United States is probably not prepared. In such an attack, the country would probably suffer major mass casualties. I think the Syrians are much more sophisticated than the US intelligence community realizes. This puts American lives at immediate risk. The American public should demand that the US intelligence community close the gap in their intelligence on the Syrian biological weapons programs. Additionally, they have underestimated the Syrian nuclear programs for several years as well.

Gordon: In your opinion what should America, Israel and NATO do to combat the Syrian Bio-warfare threat and its proliferation to terrorist groups?

Dekker: The US intelligence community could start by acknowledging that Syria has an advanced, well developed program and take things a bit more seriously. It would be helpful if they stopped tasking resources to intimidate US scientists abroad who are informed on Syrian biological weapons. The US Intelligence Community seems particularly risk averse. It’s almost as if Syria couldn’t possibly have such a program because their scientific community isn’t advanced enough. Syria’s scientific community is exceptionally advanced and sophisticated. They work closely with Iran, Russia and the DPRK. They have vast expertise to draw upon. Their conventional weapons programs may fall far behind Israel and the US but they have leveled the playing field considerably with their unconventional weapons arsenal. It has been their goal to do so. If you deny something exists and seek to intimidate those who say it does, then any preventive measures to protect your citizens are lacking. Other NATO nations are preparing for deliberate disease outbreaks and acknowledge that Syrian biological weapons programs are a threat. These efforts may now be accelerated given concerns over Syria’s nuclear program that caught many off guard.

Israel on the other hand is well prepared. Its citizens have experience with Scud attacks and Israel is poised to interdict WMD attacks because their intelligence services are so competent.

Biological weapons and terrorist use of them require excellence in intelligence not incompetence and denial.

Gordon: Thank you Dr. Dekker for this most informative and I’m sorry to say, frightening discussion of the Syrian bio-warfare threat and why America has not done enough to recognize and combat it.

Dr. Dekker suggests that for more information you consult “Biological Terrorism: The Threat of the 21st Century” by Marie Sultan for the types of technological advancements which might be a concern.

North Korea’s Nuke Program Nullified?

Now, if in fact this is true and N. Korea is going to abide by all conditions, this is surely good news. However the skeptic in me, tells me that it could just be a pony show, as N. Korea last did this under the Clinton Administration, only to find out years later that they have completed their nuke program…

Let’s also hope that this technolgy does not pop up in Syria as just an outsourcing on N. Korea’s part.

Also, notice how the media is not crediting the Bush Administration for for the diplomatic efforts used to broker this deal. The liberal media is more than ready to jump on anything the Bush Administration does wrong. Well were is the Fourth Estate now with cheers for the use of negotiations…

WASHINGTON —  The United States said Monday that a team of U.S. experts had arrived at North Korea’s sole functioning nuclear reactor and begun the work of disabling the facilities.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that the disabling of the North’s nuclear reactor at Yongbyon “is a positive first step in this process, and we certainly hope to see it continue.”

He had no details about what specific steps the team was conducting. “This is going to be a process that is going to take some time,” he said.

The North shut down Yongbyon in July and promised to disable it by year’s end in exchange for energy aid and political concessions from other members of talks on its nuclear program: the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Disabling the reactor at Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, would mark a further breakthrough in efforts to persuade the North to scale back its nuclear program. The country conducted its first-ever nuclear test in October of last year. /**/

Mental Health Check Kucinich

Or at least a hearing check. Kucinich is questioning Bush’s mental health based on his comment about AVOIDING world war III by preventing Iran from obtaining the capability of nuclear weapons. In the comment Kucinich is critisizing, Bush does not say anything violent, however Kucinich obviously was having some Freudian thoughts about the topic. Nice liberal spin Kucinich, can’t beat Hillary so let’s go Bush bashing, page 2 of the liberal handbook…

I am a little bit more concerned about your mental health Mr. Kucinich, in that you hear voices like this inside your head… Violent Voices… Voices to attack Bush…. Voice to allow Iran Nuclear Weapons Capability… Voices…

By the way, Dennis, have you seen any UFO’s lately

Kucinich questions Bush’s mental health

Kucinich, with wife Elizabeth, questioned the president’s mental health.

(CNN) — Strong words from Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinich may be nothing new, but his comments to a newspaper Tuesday questioning President Bush’s mental health are raising a few eyebrows.

“I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health,” the Ohio congressman told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There’s something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact.”

Kucinich’s comments were in reference to the president’s recent remarks on Iran, in which he suggested World War III could occur if the country obtained nuclear capabilities.

“I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” Bush said at a news conference earlier this month.

The Democratic presidential candidate later said he does not consider questioning the Bush’s mental health inappropriate, according the Inquirer’s Web site.

“You cannot be a President of the United States who’s wanton in his expression of violence,” Kucinich said. “There’s a lot of people who need care. He might be one of them. If there isn’t something wrong with him, then there’s something wrong with us. This, to me, is a very serious question.”