Cold War in the Hot Zone: U.S. Experts Are Reviewing the Germ-Warfare Capabilities of Other Countries, Including Russia, Which Once Had the Biggest Biological-Weapons Program in the World. (History)

By Kralev, Nicholas | Insight on the News, December 10, 2001 | Go to article overview

Cold War in the Hot Zone: U.S. Experts Are Reviewing the Germ-Warfare Capabilities of Other Countries, Including Russia, Which Once Had the Biggest Biological-Weapons Program in the World. (History)


Kralev, Nicholas, Insight on the News


It was late May 1992 and Boris Yeltsin was about to fly to Washington for the first official U.S.-Russian summit since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Grateful to the United States for its support during his power struggle with a die-hard Communist clique, Yeltsin arrived in a spirit of cooperation and openness about Moscow's secretive past. In fact, one of the president's senior aides primed a Russian newspaper reporter with an unusual question involving a 1979 anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk, Yeltsin's hometown, now called Yekaterinburg. In answering the question, Yeltsin made a startling revelation: The epidemic, which killed nearly 70 people, was caused by a leak at a secret biological-weapons facility maintained by the military.

The incident had aroused suspicions in the West, but Moscow never before had acknowledged the research site, whose existence was a clear violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. Now the U.S. scientific community began to grasp the scope and potential threat of the Soviet germ-warfare program. The future of more than two dozen research centers, production plants and storage facilities, as well as that of more than 25,000 people working for the program, greatly alarmed the United States. It pledged to finance research for health and other peaceful purposes to prevent the proliferation of weapons expertise.

"At the time, the term everybody used was `brain drain'" says a State Department official who asked to remain anonymous. "We wanted to keep those scientists and engineers at home and reasonably comfortable, so they wouldn't want to move to Iran and North Korea or contract with countries that have proliferation programs."

Despite such concerns, the United States didn't provide funds for antiproliferation until 1994, a year into Bill Clinton's presidency. Since then, however, Washington has spent $41 million on the program, which gradually involved half-a-dozen government agencies administered by the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow. The ISTC "spends its money on a project-by-project basis; it's not a U.N. fund where we offer the money into a pot and some committee decides where it goes," explains the official. Most of the money is "paid directly to individual bank accounts that are set up for participating scientists, so there are tens of thousands of bank accounts under the program."

Although recipients of U.S. funds are banned from working with countries that have proliferation programs or sponsor terrorists, administration officials admit that there is no way to know what a scientist does in his or her office after hours. There is no reason to believe, however, that any beneficiary of U.S. assistance in Russia has helped foreign germ-warfare programs.

Between 13 and 17 countries are believed to have active biological-warfare programs, according to differing data from several government agencies, including the State and Defense departments and the Office of Technology Assessment. Iraq is No. 1 on the list of potential state sponsors of bioterrorism. North Korea is another, though much less likely, possibility.

"If a state was involved [in the anthrax-letter campaign], Iraq is clearly on top of the list," says Michael L. Moodie, president of the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute. "North Korea is thought to have worked on anthrax, and one can argue that it's using the situation, but it's a much less likely option than Iraq."

U.S. and other Western companies exported pathogens and production equipment to Iraq in the 1980s for "legitimate, peaceful, scientific research," explains Elisa Harris, who was director of nonproliferation on Clinton's National Security Council.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cold War in the Hot Zone: U.S. Experts Are Reviewing the Germ-Warfare Capabilities of Other Countries, Including Russia, Which Once Had the Biggest Biological-Weapons Program in the World. (History)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.