An international team wants to closely watch how future technologies could make the world’s deadliest poisons easier to produce and harder to regulate.
It is still impossible to know how an array of emerging technologies — such as custom-built proteins and microscopic containers — will affect capabilities to manufacture and deliver lethal chemicals banned under international law, scientific advisers to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a new assessment.
International authorities should continue monitoring the potential of biotechnology to affect enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention, even though developments relevant to the production of banned chemical agents “are currently limited,” says the final report by a working group of the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board.
Despite the field’s present limitations, “biomediated processes might still be effective for producing weaponizable quantities of toxins that are lethal,” the report warns. “New production processes, combined with developments in drug discovery and delivery, could be exploited in the development of new toxic chemicals that could be used as weapons.”
The panel added that the agency’s mandate hems in its enforcement authority, potentially complicating any global effort to oversee biological innovations that fall in a gray area of international law.
The Chemical Weapons Convention may not require member nations to report “many facilities taking advantage of biologically mediated production processes,” the advisory panel said in its report. The group added that the treaty exempts numerous activities that “may be scientifically justified” for peaceful purposes, such as producing biofuel or alcoholic drinks.
The report also calls for routine consultations with officials responsible for overseeing a separate international ban on biological arms. OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü three years ago directed his agency’s scientific advisers to consider how the organization’s enforcement tasks may be affected by the ongoing “convergence” of chemical and biological sciences.
The panel advised Üzümcü to discuss convergence issues with overseers of the Biological Weapons Convention.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
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