EUROPE

On September 8th, Poland announced its plan to invest $40bn in building its first six nuclear reactors in the northwestern coastal region of the country over the next 20 years to cut its dependance on coal. Researchers found traces of arsenic-containing agents and mustard gas products in the Baltic Sea’s underwater sediment, result of chemical weapons dumped after World War II polluting the site. The old weapons may release other chemical agents into the environment as munition casings continue to deteriorate. According to some projections, the bomb casings will disintegrate over the next 10 years, while the shell casings will corrode by 2100. Russia doesn’t have any verified information showing that there are chemical weapons stored anywhere in the country to worry about it, declared Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on September 26th. The statement follows an incident with opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who has been poisoned with a Novichok class agent. As the race for a coronavirus vaccine is ongoing, Boris Johnson declared during his speech to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that the United Kingdom will commit an initial 71 million pounds to the global vaccine partnership known as COVAX to secure purchase rights on 27 million doses, and 500 million to a separate COVAX initiative to help developing countries access a vaccine.

THE AMERICAS

On September 25th Canada’s two most populous provinces moved to clamp down further on social gatherings in a bid to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections that now total more than 150,000 nationwide since the start of the pandemic. Ontario and Quebec together account for 79% of the 150,140 cases reported in Canada so far and 93% of the 9,249 deaths. Canada has now signed deals for a total of around 300 million doses of vaccine candidates from a number of major pharmaceutical firms.

The United States is fully committed to destroying 100% of its remaining chemical weapons stockpile by Dec. 31, 2023 according to Mike Abaie, program executive officer of Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. This September, the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant team at the Army's Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado completed the destruction of nearly 300,000 155mm projectiles, which each contained 12 pounds of mustard agent. The US authorities arrested a woman at the US-Canada border on September 20th on suspicion that she sent ricin-filled envelopes to the White House and to five other addresses in Texas. The envelope was intercepted at a government mail center before it arrived at the White House. In September 26th, the government of Costa Rica announced that is has signed up for the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility vaccine program to be able to pre-order more than one million doses of its coronavirus vaccines once they are made available. To date, the country has confirmed more than 70,000 infections, as well as about 800 deaths attributed to the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus.

ASIA

On September 21st, China released a video showing nuclear-capable bombers carrying out a simulated attack on what appears to be the US Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam. The video came as China carried out the second day of drills near Chinese-claimed Taiwan, to express anger at the visit of a senior US State Department official to Taipei. Pakistan gave the go-ahead for the country’s first Phase-III clinical trial for CanSino’s candidate, led by the government-run National Institute of Health (NIH) and pharmaceutical company AJM - the local representative of CanSino. A total of 40,000 people across seven countries will participate in the trial, including up to 10,000 in Pakistan. Initial results are expected in four to six months. The trial began at a hospital in Islamabad, where 20-25 subjects were expected to be enrolled daily, and will expand to several other cities in the coming days. India’s Prime Minister said the country was moving ahead with Phase III clinical trials - the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy - and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines. India has recorded more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19, second only behind the United States and its death toll as of this week was more than 90,000. India has consistently reported the highest tally of daily cases anywhere in the world. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the United Nations General Assembly on September 25th Japan is determined to host the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after the games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Games were originally scheduled for summer 2020 but were postponed to July 23, 2021 in March by the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government.

MIDDLE EAST

A booby-trapped vehicle exploded in a Syrian town on the border with Turkey on September 26, killing seven people in an area that has seen regular bomb attacks since Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seized it from Kurdish-led forces. An arms depot of the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah exploded in southern Lebanon on September 22nd injuring several people and sending a new shockwave across the nation. The arms depot blast was allegedly caused by a “technical error”.

AFRICA

At least 28 people were killed on September 23rd when a gas tanker exploded in the central Nigerian state of Kogi and starting a blaze. The accident happened opposite a petrol station along Lokoja-Zariagi highway.

OCEANIA

On September 21, two men working for Norwegian People's Aid have been killed in an explosion in the Solomon Islands, a WW2 battleground littered with thousands of unexploded bombs. Australian Prime Minister addressing the United Nations General Assembly said an inquiry into the roots of the virus would minimize the threat of another global pandemic. His comments came after he led global demands for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 earlier this year. This episode didn't improve the relations between Australia and China, who has imposed trade sanctions on its neighbor. Earlier this year, Australia has signed a vaccine agreement with AstraZeneca AZN.L. The first batches are scheduled to be delivered in January 2021 if trials prove successful. Australia said it would share supplies with smaller Pacific Island nations.