Threat Seen in Russia's Biological Agents
McKenzie, Lesley, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Russia's biological weapons sites, which pose a far greater threat than do its nuclear weapons, may have been dismantled and hidden for future use, according to a leading specialist on the weapons plants.
"The capability of the old Russian Ministry of Defense sites remains uninvestigated and largely unknown," said Christopher Davis, a member of the first Western team to visit biological warfare facilities of the former Soviet Union.
"The suspicion is that, at the very least, the basic know-how, expertise, equipment and stock of seed cultures have been retained somewhere within the Ministry of Defense system," he said Monday at Jane's Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction in Rosslyn.
Mr. Davis traced the Soviet history of biological warfare research and development, and noted areas of concern.
"Biological agents, if of the transmissible variety, are capable of causing casualties far in excess of those caused by nuclear weapons," he said.
These weapons are also available at a lower cost than nuclear weapons.
The special characteristics of biological weapons include their ability to attack all "living targets," which range from human beings to plants and livestock, possibly rendering a nation unable to feed itself.
Some biological weapons also have the ability to first exhibit their effects on an area hours or possibly days after their release, making it difficult to ascertain the identity of the aggressor.
The United States chose to disarm its biological warfare program in 1969, but the Soviet Union continued its warfare development through the establishment of an agency named Biopreparat in 1973-1974.
Biopreparat developed biological weapons behind a civilian facade of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. This tactic served as an alternative to chemical and nuclear weapons controlled under arms treaties and weapons conventions.
For many years, only a small number of people across the Atlantic were aware of the problem, and many chose not to listen to their warnings, Mr. …