News In Brief
The United States State Department has issued a strong protest over the use of a chemical tracking compound by the Soviet secret police, the KGB. US Embassy officials here say the chemical, known as NPPD, has been applied ``indirectly'' to US diplomats here by the KGB in order to track their movements.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The State Department is now conducting tests to determine whether the chemical, one of a group of what are called ``mutagens,'' are said to cause cancer and birth defects.
US Charg'e d'affaires Richard Combs told the American community in Moscow, during a series of briefings, that there is no immediate cause for alarm, but admitted that not much is known about the chemical.
Ironically, much of the published material about NPDD is from Soviet researchers.
Embassy officials say the chemical, along with other tracking agents, has been in use by the KGB for years. But they say they have only recently become aware of how widespread its use has become.
Mr. Combs said the protest was delivered to the Soviet government ``in very strong terms,'' but would not say what the Soviet response was.
Dr. Charles Brodine, the State Department's assistant director for environmental health and preventive medicine, says NPPD is a ``moderately toxic chemical'' that does not occur in nature, and there have been few studies on it.
It is only detectable when applied in fairly large quantities, and it then appears as a white dust. But it is odorless and in small quantities is impossible to detect.
Embassy officials say they do not know how the KGB detects the chemical or how it is used in tracking. They confirmed that discoveries of its presence have been made, but declined to reveal where or how for fear it might compromise US intelligence-gathering techniques.
Some diplomats and journalists said they had long suspected that the KGB was employing toxic substances, and that these revelations confirmed those suspicions.
The US State Department is bringing in a team of experts to Moscow to sample the substance and test its toxicity. It is expected here in about 10 days.
South African poet wins reprieve but admits killing
Benjamin Moloisi, a black poet and upholsterer, won a last-minute reprieve from the gallows Tuesday. He now admits he took part in the murder of a policeman, but says he was under pressure from the African National Congress (ANC), his lawyer said Wednesday. A white judge granted Mr. Moloisi a three-week stay of execution to allow his defense team to prepare fresh evidence about the 1983 murder of black policeman Phillipus Selepe. His lawyer, Priscilla Jana, said she will petition President P. W. Botha for a retrial on the new evidence.
The ANC is fighting a guerrilla war against the white minority government.
House may hold up final vote on defense outlay, Aspin says
Rep. Les Aspin (D) of Wisconsin, in a letter to President Reagan, has warned that the House may hold up a final vote on this year's $302.5 billion defense authorization bill. Mr. Aspin said comments by two Reagan officials indicate the administration needs to be ``straight ened out'' about Congress's intent on domestic spending and the MX missile.
Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger has said the administration doesn't see the 50-missile cap on the MX as permanent, while White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Mr. Reagan may try to limit domestic spending to amounts contained in an early budget proposal. A compromise budget, with higher spending figures, has cleared Congress.
Egyptian police questioning suspect in diplomat's death