Biological Weaponry Of
Russia And China Poses
Vicious Threat
By Eric Margolis
Toronto Sun
GENEVA - U.S. and European intelligence agencies are reporting mounting evidence that Russia and China have massively violated the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and subsequent international and bilateral agreements to control biowarfare weapons.
The convention, signed by 169 nations, prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer or use of chemical and biological weapons.
All signatories with biowarfare arsenals are pledged to eliminate such weapons over 10 years. While Russia and China appear to have ceased adding to their huge stockpiles of chemical weapons, both are developing new strains of highly lethal biological toxins.
According to Ken Alibek, a former deputy director of the top secret Soviet-era biowarfare program, who defected to the West, Moscow never ended its offensive biological warfare research. Alibek claims Russia has stockpiled many hundreds of tonnes of anthrax and plague, as well as smaller quantities of smallpox, Ebola and Marburg viruses, and toxins designed to attack plants and animals. Russia is also developing a new strain of "invisible" biowarfare agents, known as bioregulators, that destroy the body's immune or neurological systems.
The highest-ranking defector from Russia's biowarfare program ever to come West also claims that in 1985 former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev secretly authorized a five-year program to develop weaponized germs and viruses, some of which were mounted on multiple warheads of the large SS-18 ICBMs targeted at North America. Alibek also says China, which claims to have abandoned biowarfare production and eliminated stockpiles, is producing hemorrhagic viruses at Lop Nor in Central Asia and suffered two major accidents in the late 1980s that killed hundreds of people.
Many toxins being developed in Russia have been biologically engineered to resist antibiotics, notably a super-strain of anthrax that is apparently impervious to the anti-anthrax inoculations now being given to NATO troops.
Alibek and other Russian defectors also confirmed the Soviet Union used chemical and biological weapons in Afghanistan from 1980-89. While covering the war there, I saw numerous cases of grave injuries or death inflicted on the Afghan mujahedeen by mysterious Soviet weapons. After being sprayed by a fine chemical mist, or exposed to gas, people would turn black and die, bleed profusely from all body orifices, choke and vomit or become disoriented and dazed. Bodies of some victims would putrefy almost immediately.
The Soviets also employed glanders, a highly contagious horse disease, to kill the animal transport used by the Afghan resistance and ergot fungus to destroy wheat. None of the biowarfare agents used by the U.S.S.R. in Afghanistan, save glanders, have ever been identified by western scientists. The West, while scourging Iraq for using chemical weapons against Iran and its rebellious Kurds, chose to ignore employment by the U.S.S.R. of more sophisticated toxic agents in Afghanistan.
Western protests over Russia's latest germ warfare projects and demands for inspection of its four major biowarfare labs have been rebuffed by Russia. The Bill Clinton administration, influenced by the strongly pro-Russian Strobe Talbot, has repeatedly rejected demands by Congress to cut off billions in U.S. aid in order to pressure Moscow into ceasing its illegal biowarfare programs. Europe, which also bankrolls Boris Yeltsin's regime, has been similarly negligent in pressing Moscow on this vital issue.
Some of the 60,000 scientists and technicians formerly employed in the Soviet biological warfare establishment have reportedly been employed by Iraq, Israel, Iran, Syria and Serbia - all of which have extensive biowarfare arsenals. India may also have received substantial Russian aid to develop its growing biowarfare capabilities.
Alibek testified before the U.S. Congress that he defected after learning that while the West had virtually eliminated its toxic arsenals, Russia was not only continuing Soviet biowarfare programs but accelerating them, with 2,000 scientists alone working on new, genetically engineered strains of anthrax at a top secret island base in the Aral Sea. He claims such toxic agents have little tactical military value and are of use only as mass terror weapons designed to compensate for Russia's and China's relative backwardness in conventional military systems.
These terror agents are being produced in a large complex at Kirov, east of Moscow, Compound 19 at Ekaterinburg in the Urals, Sergeiv Possad outside Moscow and at a new complex at Strizhy, close to Kirov. The laboratory at Ekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk) was the site of a massive accidental release of anthrax in 1979 that killed or injured over 1,000 people.
According to the 1990 U.S.-Russia Bilateral Destruction Agreement, the two powers were to reduce their respective chemical stockpiles to 5,000 tonnes each by 2002. In 1996, Russia backed off even this agreement, citing financial problems. The UN was supposed to take over supervision of biowarfare agents destruction and implementation of the 1972 treaty, but it has failed dismally to enforce the agreements or even to protest egregious violations by Russia, China and other signatory states.
The West has destroyed or significantly reduced its stocks of chemical agents, and ceased biological warfare research. Russia and China continue to develop such weapons. The former balance of terror has become unbalanced, as "friendly" regimes in Moscow and Beijing not only violate international law but threaten all mankind with their relentless development of hi-tech germ warfare.