US names five biological weapons states


GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- The United States on Monday named Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria and Sudan as countries that pose a serious threat to international security through their pursuit, development, production and deployment of biological weapons, in violation of a global accord that bans such arms.

In July of this year, the United States rejected a draft protocol aimed at strengthening a nearly three decades-old agreement because it considered it flawed. On Monday it said it "will continue to reject" it despite calls by China, Russia and many western and developing country powers to reconsider and not ditch the derailed package.


John Bolton, U.S. under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, told a United Nations'conference on the Biological Weapons Convention the Bush administration "strongly suspects that Iraq has taken advantage of three years of no U.N. inspections to improve all phases of its offensive BW (biological weapons) program. The existence of Iraq's program is beyond dispute."


"The United States will simply not enter into agreements that allow rogue states or others to develop and deploy biological weapons," Bolton said.

The U.S. official told delegates North Korea's bioloical weapons program also was disturbing and said the United States believes the country has "developed and produced, and may have weaponized BW agents in violation of the convention."

Similarly, he said the Bush administration believes Iran "probably has produced and weaponized BW weapons agents in violation of the convention" and that Libya and Syria, respectively, have "an offensive BW program in the research and development stage," and may be capable of producing small quantities of an agent.

Bolton said the United States also is concerned about the growing interest by Sudan in developing a biological weapons program.

He said there also is worry about the stated intention of prime terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida terrorist organization to use biological weapons.

Bolton qualified that while the United States "is not prepared, at this time to comment on whether rogue states may have assisted a possible al Qaida biological weapons program."

Bolton told a news conference the American officials "have the highest degree of confidence in the accuracy" of the statement concerning the list of countries named.


He also said the draft biological weapons protocol "is dead in our view and will not be resurrected ..."

In light of the U.S. assessment the convention and the draft protocol fall short on the enforcement front, Bolton proposed a series of measures the 144 member states to the accord could agree on to strengthen the accord, such as:

-- establishment of an international mechanism for international investigations of suspicious disease outbreaks or alleged biological incidents, which would require parties to accept international inspectors upon determination by the UN secretary-general that an inspection is needed.

-- Enact national criminal legislation to enhance their bilateral extradition agreements.

Senior diplomats from a cross section of countries told United Press International the idea to use the UN chief's office rather than the BWC was in the words of some "incredible," and "unfair."

"The world needs the U.S. and the U.S. needs the world. So cooperation is the way. Unilateralism will not succeed, in particular after Sept. 11 and the anthrax attacks," Ambassador Sha Zukang, head of the Chinese delegation, told UPI.

Earlier, Sha told state parties to the BWC treaty "it is very difficult for a country to ensure its security with its own efforts alone, however, powerful it may be."


The Russian ambassador, Leonid Skotnikov, said Moscow believes the "resulting situation with the protocol may lead to a greater threat of spreading biological weapons, and this means they may end up in the hands of terrorists."

He told the conference Russia believes more than ever of the "need of strengthening " the BWC by adopting the draft protocol.

Belgium, speaking on behalf of the 15-member European Union and 12 other European countries, also called for the adoption of measures to strenghten the implementation of the BWC convention in all of its provisions.

In a message to the three-week review conference of the convention, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said "full implementation of the BWC must be given higher priority" and urged participants to overcome their differences "and take these next crucial steps in the history of this landmark convention."

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