WASHINGTON — The United States has accused Iraq, Iran and
Cuba of seeking to exploit a proposed ban on biological weapons to aid their
own weapons of mass destruction programs.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration rejected a revised draft of the
Biological Weapons Convention, Middle East Newsline reported. The
international treaty bans the development, production, stockpiling and
acquisition of biological weapons.
"Countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Cuba have fought the hardest for free
access to the technology, knowledge, and equipment necessary to pursue
biological weapons," Under Secretary of State John Bolton said. "Their
argument was simple: as states parties to the BWC they should be allowed free
trade in all biological materials."
U.S. admits failure in stopping North Korean proliferation
More than a dozen countries are said to be pursuing biological weapons,
officials said. They include Cuba, Iraq, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea.
"Unrepentant rogues, such as Saddam Hussein, continue to seek illegal weapons
to sow massive destruction on civilian targets with complete disregard to the
BWC and other international agreements," Bolton said. "Iran, Libya, Syria, and
North Korea are also pursuing these illegitimate and inhumane weapons."
U.S. officials said states such as Iran and Iraq have objected to rules that
would control the spread of dual-use components for biological weapons while
seeking to gain access to technology and equipment that would bolster their
WMD programs. Both of these states are believed to be engaged in BW
In an address to the Tokyo-American Center on Tuesday, Bolton, responsible for
State Department policy on arms control and international security, said Cuba
maintains "at least a limited, offensive biological warfare
research-and-development effort. Terrorist groups are actively seeking the
knowledge, equipment, and material necessary for biological weapons."
Bolton said the United States rejected the draft protocol for three reasons.
He said traditional arms control would not work on biological weapons; the
treaty compromised national security and confidential business information;
and proliferators would have used the treaty to undermine other effective
international export control regimes.
Officials said the United States was pressured by other countries to agree to
the establishment of a cooperation committee linked to the BWC. The committee
was proposed as a means to promote scientific and technological exchanges and
was touted as a concession to Iran and Cuba.
[On Thursday, Bolton called North Korea the biggest exporter of ballistic
missiles and technology in the world. "In addition to its disturbing weapons
of mass destruction activities, North Korea also is the world's foremost
peddler of ballistic missile-related equipment, components, materials and
technical expertise," Bolton said in a speech in Seoul.]
Bolton said the United States has taken the initiative to combat BW. He termed
the USA Patriot Act and the Public Health Security and Bio-terrorist
Preparedness and Response Act as measures directed at improving the U.S.
ability to combat the threat.
"National, bilateral, and multilateral efforts have made it more difficult for
those pursuing biological weapons to obtain the necessary ingredients and made
it easier to detect and counter any attack," he said.