THE UNITED STATES yesterday accused Iraq and five other countries of developing germ warfare programmes, amid mounting concern that Osama bin Laden actively sought to acquire biological weapons in his "holy war" against America.
The US Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, told the opening session of a conference called to toughen the international ban on biological weapons: "I plan to name names. Prior to September 11, some would have avoided this approach. The world has changed and so must our business-as- usual approach."
The existence of Iraq's clandestine programme was "beyond dispute", he said, while that of North Korea was "extremely disturbing". He also expressed concerns about the germ warfare ambitions of Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan, a charge that was swiftly dismissed as "baseless" by the Iranian representative to the three- week conference.
"There are other states I could have named which the United States will be contacting privately concerning our belief that they are pursuing an offensive biological weapons programme," he added.
Mr Bolton said: "Osama bin Laden considers obtaining weapons of mass destruction to be a sacred …