.Humanitarian Resource Institute:  A U.S. & International Resource on the Scope of Humanitarian Assistance

January 27, 2003

Contact: Stephen M. Apatow
Director of Research & Development
Humanitarian Resource Institute Legal Resource Center/International Peace Center
Eastern USA: (203) 668-0282  Western USA: (775) 884-4680
Legal Resource Center: http://www.humanitarian.net/law
International Peace Center: http://www.humanitarian.net/peace
Email: s.m.apatow@humanitarian.net


During the last year, efforts to establish unity among leaders of peace organizations and the interfaith community have failed to yield the substantive action necessary to address the cycle of violence currently spiraling to new levels. This challenge has directly contributed to the potential need for military intervention as a response to the threat against the United States and international community.

As outlined in the brief, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nonproliferation and International Security (http://www.humanitarian.net/law/nonproliferation1082002.html):

In a direct breech of the NPT, both Pakistan and India conducted nuclear tests (1998) and now possess nuclear weapons that have required direct attention regarding their safety and security in terms of unauthorized or accidental use or accessibility to theft or seizure by terrorist groups. The complexity of containment of nuclear weapons, materials and expertise sought by proliferators requires direct action of the international community to prevent terrorist factions or unstable states from possessing nuclear weapons.  The window of vulnerability for large quantities of fissile materials (Russia's inventory through 2007) encompasses the need for counter terrorism efforts to block the formation and activities of large scale international terrorist organizations.  Current U.S. Nonproliferation programs in the former Soviet Union [1] include:

·  Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) Program (DOE): Improving Security of 603 tons of nuclear weapons material at 53 sites and for 1000's of navel n-weapons.
·  Mayak Fissile Material Storage facility (DOD): The construction of a secure facility for 50 tons of weapons plutonium.
Aktau-BN-350 Breeder Reactor Project: The security of 3 tons of high quality Pu in spent fuel.
·  HEU Purchase Agreement - "Megatons to Megawatts" program (U.S. Enrichment Corporation - USEC): Purchase of 500 tons of weapons grade uranium over 20 years, blended down to non-weapons usable nuclear power plant fuel.
·  Plutonium (Pu) Disposition (DOE): The elimination of 34 tons of Russian Weapons Pu by irradiating materials as mixed oxide fuel in Russian nuclear power plants.
·  Pu Production Reactor Shut Down Agreement (DOE): End annual production of 1.8 tons (total) or weapons plutonium at three remaining Russian production reactors, while providing alternatives.

Today, the Biological weapons threat demands the development of a robust national and international infrastructure.  The creation of an advanced pathogen, either accidentally or deliberately, could pose a major threat to the well being and even the survival of the human species. [2]

In January, 2001, Australian scientists developing a contraceptive vaccine for controlling field mice populations sought to enhance the vaccines effectiveness by inserting the gene for the immune regulatory protein interleukin-4 (IL-4) into mousepox, which was being used as a carrier virus.  IL-4 is a substance that is normally produced in mice, but insertion of the IL-4 gene into the mousepox genome unexpectedly transformed the normally benign virus into a virulent strain that shut down the immune system and killed all the animals in the experiment.  In addition to rendering mousepox lethal in mice genetically resistant to the virus, the inserted gene made the mousepox vaccine ineffective - the recombinant virus killed even those mice that had previously been vaccinated. [3]  Since human beings possess the interleukin-4 gene, it is possible that inserting this gene into a poxvirus that infects humans, such as smallpox or monkeypox, could create a lethal strain that would be resistant to the existing smallpox vaccine. [4]

Current threats involving the deliberate reintroduction of smallpox as an epidemic disease would be an international crime of unprecedented proportions, but it is now regarded as a possibility. [5]  Without intervention, each person infected with smallpox could infect between 10 and 20 others in a society that had not been immunized. Epidemiologists refer to this number as the "transmission rate" of an epidemic.

A transmission rate of 20 means the first 50 victims could infect 1,000 others, and these "second generation" cases could infect 20,000 more, who would infect 400,000, and so on. The sixth generation of such a mathematical progression would be 160 million and if such a hypothetical epidemic were to occur with smallpox, that number of cases would be reached in approximately 10 weeks after the first case appeared.

The impact of a bioterrorist incident presents the challenge of mass casualties, the closure of roads, airports and waterways causing interstate and international commerce to potentially grind to a halt as containment and control becomes the priority. As economic scenarios in the global war against terrorism are assessed, the significance of a bioterrorist incident with an agent such as smallpox would present a catastrophic geopolitical challenge.


The International Interfaith Peace Declaration (http://www.humanitarian.net/peace/declaration.html), presented to leaders from the interfaith community, intergovernmental/non-governmental organizations, United Nations programs and members of the international community presented the following objective:

"Whereas it is essential that peace efforts move beyond military interventions and diplomatic relations to a new level of intercultural-interfaith dialogue and cooperation to achieve a consensus for peace on the grass roots level within the borders of every nation,"

To achieve:

"The objective of  conflict resolution, healing and reconciliation is pursued as a vehicle for revitalization of the economic, environmental, political, social and moral challenges facing our Earth community."

The seriousness of the challenges facing the international community are daunting, but at the present time, a window of opportunity exists for the "peoples of the United Nations" as the ultimate units of international society to focus on the potential of the "Butterfly Effect."  Secretary General Kofi Annan [6] commented on the phenomenon during his acceptance of his Nobel Peace Prize, on 10 December, last year:

"According to scientists, the world of nature is so small and independent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest can generate a violent storm on the other side of the earth.  He noted that, for better or worse, the world of human activity also has its own "Butterfly Effect" - human actions can either save the world or destroy it."


[1] Spector, The New landscape of Nuclear Terrorism, Monterey Institute of International Studies - After 9/11: Preventing Mass-Destruction Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Occasional Paper No.8, May 2002, p. 11-12.
[2] Andrew Pollack, "Wiuth Biotechnology, a Potential to Harm," New York Times, November 27, 2001; Claire M. Fraser and Malcolm R. Dando, "Genomics and Future Biological Weapons: The Need for Preventative Action by the Biomedical Community," Nature Genetics 29 (2001), pp. 253-65.
[3] R.J.Jackson et al. (2001), "Expression of Mouse Interleukin-4 by a Recombinant Ectromelia Virus Supresses Cytolytic Lymphocyte Responses and Overcomes Genetic Resistance to Mousepox," Journal of Virology, 75 (2001), pp. 1025-10.
[4] Tucker, Regulating Scientific Research of Potential Relevance to Biological Warfare, Monterey Institute of International Studies - After 9/11: Preventing Mass-Destruction Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Occasional Paper No.8, May 2002, p. 24.
[5] Centers for Disease Control, Smallpox Reference Materials. JAMA, Smallpox as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management, Vol. 281 No. 22, June 9, 1999.
[6] Annan, We Can Love What We Are, Without Hating What - And Who - We Are Not, UN Press Release SG/SM/8071, October 2001. 

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