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has been allocated to defenses against weaponizeable agents and is radi-
cally escalating. From 2002 to 2004, research funding for military and civil-
ian programs on predatory bacteria and extremely lethal viruses increased
by over 2,000 percent.45 Altogether, 300 institutes and 13,000 individual
scientists have direct access to bioweapons pathogens including anthrax,
brucellosis, glanders, plague, melioidosis, and tularemia. On bioterrorism-
related research alone, the United States has increased spending more than
212 BIOVIOLENCE: PREVENTING BIOLOGICAL TERROR AND CRIME


BOX 8-3. PROJ ECT CLEAR VI S ION

In a program named Clear Vision, the Central Intelligence Agency built and tested a
model of a Soviet-designed germ bomb that of¬cials feared was being sold on the
international market. Hundreds of bomblets were made, although they lacked a fuse
that would enable them to work. A related project focused on “data that appear to have
considerably greater offensive than defensive potential,” such as “models to predict
agent distribution and potency as a function of the dispersal method, variations in the
source over time, the agent type, the amount of agent and its state (dry or wet), size
distribution, environmental conditions, etc.” “ Infectious agents and simulants were
to be used. “[T]he bomblets were ¬lled with simulant and tested both for the way they
would fall after release from a warhead and for their dissemination characteristics. To
test dissemination of the BW agent simulant, the bomblet must have been detonated,
if not via its own fuse, then by some external means.”

SOURCE: Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, Defending Against Biodefense: The Need for Limits, DIS-
ARMAMENT DIPLOMACY, No. 69 (February/March 2003); See also, Judith Miller, et al., GERMS:
BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS AND AMERICA™S SECRET WAR, pp. 290“296 (2001).



thirty-fold from $53 million in 2001 to $1.6 billion in 2004. The current
program includes research to develop medical biological agent counter-
measures, including efforts to:

r Characterize molecular biology and physiology of biological threat
agents;
r Investigate the pathogenesis and immunology of diseases;
r Determine, through modeling, how the threat agent operates;
r Identify new medical biological defense products by understanding
their interaction with and mechanisms of action against BW agents;
r Establish safety and ef¬cacy data for new medical biodefense
products; and
r Establish the validity of new medical biodefense products against
battle¬eld use.46

Some of these funds are going to construct new biocontainment lab-
oratories equipped with ¬lters, barriers, and air-handling systems so that
researchers can handle lethal pathogens while minimizing the risks of acci-
dentally infecting lab workers or of releases that could endanger public
health or the environment.47 This research might facilitate pursuit of var-
ious developments “ for example, rapid diagnostic methods for the most
likely biological weapons, new or improved antibiotics, antiviral therapies
for smallpox and ebola virus, and new vaccines for anthrax. According to
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INTERNATIONAL NONPROLIFERATION

a senior of¬cial, these “research and development efforts constitute an
indispensable investment toward proper domestic preparedness against
potential uses of biological or chemical weapons.”48
Yet, recent initiatives raise novel concerns. For example, the National
Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasure Center (NBACC) at Fort Det-
rick in Maryland has the mission to anticipate, prevent, respond to, and
recover from current and next-generation biological threats by advanc-
ing the scienti¬c community™s knowledge of potential bioterrorism. The
NBACC aims to achieve ef¬cient interagency and private sector cooper-
ation with ¬ve research and operation centers that integrate technical
expertise in biodefense characterization, bioforensics, and agricultural
security.49 The Chemical and Biological Defense program is studying how
advances in technology, speci¬cally genetic engineering and recombinant
DNA, can be used to develop countermeasures to bioagents.50 This entails
investigating the pathogenesis of biothreat agents, modeling their mecha-
nism of causing illness, simulating pathogen releases, analyzing an agent™s
transmissibility including tissue culture models, and identifying new med-
ical defense products by understanding their interaction with bioagents. It
is troubling that the very same techniques and pathogens that have been
seen as bioweapons are currently used in defense research.
The U.S. government has without exception avowed its support for the
BWC. Critics allege, however, that the U.S. government™s hostility to mea-
sures for strengthening the BWC is in fact a cover to hide classi¬ed research
that is exploring applications of biotechnology for designing bioweapons.
As one expert has pointed out, when you “start modeling or mimicking
actual weapons, you come into very sensitive areas” that can imply offen-
sive preparations, especially if the details are kept secret.51


Strengthening Con¬dence
Successful international nonproliferation requires that nations are con-
¬dent that foreign biodefense programs are not offensive bioweapons
preparations. The accelerating capabilities of emerging bioscience make
that imperative more compelling. With time, the ability to hide offensive
weapons behind purported biodefense programs will increase as will the
risks of blind reliance on State avowals of benign intentions. Failure to pro-
vide con¬dence must inevitably doom any realistic prospects of strength-
ening international nonproliferation of bioweapons.
An appropriate policy resolution derives from the concept of translu-
cency introduced in Chapter 6. Fundamental to that concept is that no
214 BIOVIOLENCE: PREVENTING BIOLOGICAL TERROR AND CRIME

activity that could contribute to bioviolence should be done in absolute
secrecy. Shrouded programs in¬‚ame suspicions even if the true intent is
peaceful. Moreover, without any way to assess these activities, there is no
way to hold anyone, including government of¬cials, accountable. Yet, it is
nearly impossible to verify the negative proposition “ in other words, no
reasonable policy could prove that bioweapons are not being produced
somewhere. Also as discussed, widespread revelation of advancing bio-
science™s capabilities, while perhaps enhancing con¬dence about nations™
intentions, could readily contribute to bioviolence. In other words, trans-
parency could lead to precisely the opposite of the central policy objective.
Translucency policies should be designed to elicit some informative
yet nonspeci¬c knowledge about what bioresearch activities are under-
taken, where, and for what purpose. Put simply, all bioresearch can be
neatly divided into two categories: unclassi¬ed and classi¬ed. BWC experts
have long argued about what speci¬c types of research should be classi-
¬ed and what should be open to public access, but this issue is irrele-
vant for translucency policies. A better answer is offered by the Chemi-
cal Weapons Convention: any information that a government classi¬es is
treated accordingly;52 whether someone else or some other nation might
disagree with that classi¬cation is beside the point. By de¬nition, any
unclassi¬ed research is visible “ even if its content is kept con¬dential
for proprietary interests, its existence is not opaque. It is no oversimpli-
¬cation to say that doubts about biodefense activities are predominantly
about classi¬ed activities.
The proposition here is to take advantage of the global governance
architecture that is described in Chapter 9. Any bioresearch activities that
a government deems worthy of classi¬cation should be con¬dentially
declared to the United Nations Bioviolence Prevention Of¬ce. A govern-
ment that chooses to classify a large quantity of information about rele-
vant research will declare more than if it chooses to classify only a few data
pieces; that is a choice reasonably left to each State. The important point
is that whether classi¬ed or unclassi¬ed, the information will not be abso-
lutely hidden. Information withheld from public access in order to keep it
away from malevolent actors will be known to United Nations authorities.
If, on the other hand, information about classi¬ed activities is withheld
from international authorities, then there is every reason to ascribe to the
State in question an illegal weapons-related motive.
The unresolved question inherent in this proposal is: Can potentially
dangerous information, once declared to the United Nations, be kept away
from other persons and States? Can it be protected from misuse? Again,
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INTERNATIONAL NONPROLIFERATION

the Chemical Weapons Convention provides a strong basis for con¬dence.
For a decade, most nations including all of the world™s major powers have
declared classi¬ed information to the Organization for the Prohibition for
Chemical Weapons (OPCW) pursuant to an elaborate Convention Annex53
that accords classi¬ed information con¬dential protection for an unlim-
ited duration.54 The OPCW is charged with establishing a strict regime gov-
erning the handling of such information “to handle and store con¬dential
information in a form that precludes direct identi¬cation with the facility it
refers to.”55 Moreover, detailed regulations on security breaches give States
con¬dence that the information they submit will remain con¬dential.56
Notably, no serious claims have been made that disclosure of classi¬ed
information to the OPCW has led to a proliferation risk.


DISARMING SOVIET BIOWEAPONS STOCKPILES

The Soviet Union™s bioweapons program, described in Chapter 3, was
humanity™s largest and most extensive foray into the misuse of biology.
At least 50 facilities employing more than 60,000 workers constituted the
Soviet bioweapons complex. When the Soviet Union collapsed, that pro-
gram left stockpiles of remarkably dangerous agents as well as thousands of
highly trained scientists and technicians. It is reportedly the world™s largest
virus storehouse; in addition to smallpox, there are alleged to be stockpiles
of marburg, ebola, and various encephalitis strains. From the perspective
of a rogue State or terrorist organization, gaining access to those stockpiles
or personnel could be an express route to lethal capabilities.
Major facilities include Vektor in western Siberia which produced
smallpox (discussed in Chapter 3) and Obolensk in Russia. Facilities at
Stepnogorsk in Kazakhstan, and Vozrozhdeniya Island in the Aral Sea,
Uzbekistan, both generated antibiotic-resistant anthrax. An American
team that visited Stepnogorsk in 1995 estimated that three hundred tons of
anthrax spores could have been produced in less than a year.57 The secu-
rity of these bioweapons facilities varies greatly by location. Many labora-
tories are reported to be in poor physical condition and cannot maintain
advanced biological containment measures. Many are in substantial ¬nan-
cial distress yet have not received the attention and resources that have
been devoted to securing former Soviet Union nuclear facilities. Most Rus-
sian institutes now have less than 65 percent of laboratory instruments,
75 percent of the needed computers, and only 10 percent of the heavy
equipment needed to ful¬ll various research programs.58 According to a
recent assessment, “Some facilities, such as Vektor, have erected fences
216 BIOVIOLENCE: PREVENTING BIOLOGICAL TERROR AND CRIME

and installed security cameras with U.S. assistance, but others are await-
ing security overhauls leading to concerns that pathogens might be acci-
dentally released or stolen. It is estimated that fewer than 40 percent of
bioweapons facilities have received any security upgrades.”59
Total stockpiles of biological pathogens are unknown. Similarly unclear
are how many scientists have unique weapons-relevant skills; perhaps they
number in the thousands. For years, these professionals were poorly paid,
generating fears that they might be motivated to steal or sell pathogens and
weapons technology. In recent years, the acute level of ¬nancial distress
has abated; whether improving economic conditions reduces concerns
about theft or diversion is unclear.
Certainly not known (outside highly classi¬ed bureaus) is whether
these materials or persons have already been acquired by States or orga-
nizations that want to commit bioviolence. Worries about a smallpox epi-
demic inevitably focus on Soviet facilities, but the veracity of rumored
movements of lethal agents cannot be con¬rmed. There are extremely
disquieting incidents. For example, Iran is known to have tried on sev-
eral occasions to acquire information or materials from Russian biologi-
cal institutes. One deal with Vektor was stopped when American of¬cials
discovered it and threatened to cease all ¬nancial assistance to Russia if
the deal was not cancelled.60 Of course, the deals we know about are the
ones that are interdicted; the ones that are carried out covertly are the real
concern.
The United States and other western governments have developed
cooperative programs to enhance security at Russian biofacilities and
to engage former weapons scientists in peaceful scienti¬c pursuits. The
Department of Defense (DoD) has bioweapons nonproliferation projects,
known collectively as the Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Pro-
gram, that address the destruction of bioweapons facilities and develop-
ment of bioweapons defense mechanisms. During the 1990s, the United
States and other countries established the International Science and
Technology Center in Moscow and the Science and Technology Center in
Ukraine to develop and fund science and technology projects that could
absorb the talents of former weapons scientists. (See Box 8“4 for more
information regarding strengthening biotechnology in Russia.)
U.S. efforts have focused on providing and installing equipment at crit-
ical sites. Installation of fences, sensors, and video surveillance cameras
can enhance security against external threats but are less effective at reduc-
ing threats that insiders will walk off with a very dangerous vial. Moreover,
the sheer scale of the effort in comparison to the magnitude of the threat
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INTERNATIONAL NONPROLIFERATION

is striking. As of September 2002, DoD estimated that it had obligated $14
million to help improve security at four of the forty-nine biological sites in
Russia that may require such assistance.61
U.S. efforts to help secure former bioweapons facilities in Russia face
many challenges. Merely negotiating agreements to facilitate assistance
has proven dif¬cult. Nine Russian bureaucratic organizations have juris-
diction over sites possessing extremely dangerous pathogens; American
of¬cials cannot work with a single focal point. A more intractable problem
has been the reluctance of Russian authorities to allow U.S. inspectors to
evaluate security at various bioweapons sites. Access has been granted to
some nonmilitary institutes, but the Russian Ministry of Health has denied
access to other sites, and the Defense Ministry has refused access to key
bioweapons facilities.62
Likely, Russian of¬cials are uncooperative because participation in
U.S.-directed security programs would risk publicity about a very dark
chapter in their history.63 The asserted reason is that U.S. inspections of
those sites could leak information that ultimately might help terrorists
target those locations. Russian authorities, re¬‚ecting the dif¬culties asso-
ciated with biodefense programs discussed earlier, attribute their resis-
tance to allow access to these facilities to the United States™ unwillingness
to allow reciprocal visits to U.S. laboratories; this unwillingness has fed
Russian concerns about the true intent and scope of the U.S. biodefense
program. Because of Russian resistance as well as a more pervasive belief
that U.S. resources were being squandered, the Bush administration sus-
pended assistance for eight months in 2002. Although U.S. assistance has
resumed, spending on these programs is widely considered to be insuf-
¬cient. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind., a principal initiator of the Nunn-
Lugar program) has estimated that at current funding levels, some facilities
might not be fully secure for twenty-seven years.64
More dismaying than complaints about inadequate American funding
or that Russian of¬cials resist cooperation is the nonexistent role of
international authorities, most notably any authority associated with the
Biological Weapons Convention. Worth noting here is that when Argentina,
Brazil, and South Africa voluntarily dismantled their nuclear weapons pro-
grams, the International Atomic Energy Agency was there to verify and to
assist. For the past decade, efforts to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles
in the United States, Russia, and elsewhere have been monitored by the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international
body established by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Most de¬nitely,
these bodies have not acted alone, and there are reasons to complain that
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