Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Smallpox Strains Needed for Biodefense: U.S.
The potential for smallpox to be unleashed as a biological weapon necessitates the retention of the last remaining known strains of the deadly virus for five years or longer, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Tuesday (see GSN, May 13).
Washington is "committed to the eventual destruction" of the smallpox stocks, but believes they could still be useful in the development of additional countermeasures as a hedge against a possible new outbreak of the virus, the Associated Press quoted Sebelius as saying. Smallpox was declared eradicated from nature in 1980.
"The world has no immunity to smallpox whatsoever," Sebelius said. "It could be released unintentionally or released as a bioweapon."
Sebelius spoke to reporters on the sidelines the World Health Assembly's annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, where some member nations were for the fifth time seeking elimination of the smallpox strains.
A total of 451 specimens are reportedly stored at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 120 different strains at the Russian Vector laboratory in Siberia.
Retention of the stocks held by Russia and the United States satisfies no critical need, though the strains could aid in the development of medical countermeasures and the achievement of government mandates, according to an assessment requested in 2010 by the World Health Organization (John Heilprin, Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle, May 17).
Note to our Readers
GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.
Oct. 6, 2014
The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.
Remarks at side event to the PrepCom for the 2015 NPT Review Conference: “Change in Action: Overcoming Barriers to Non-Proliferation in the Middle East”
May 8, 2014
NTI Vice Chairman Des Browne addressed challenges to nonproliferation in the Middle East in a speech to members of The Middle East Next Generation of Arms Control Specialists network at a side event to the NPT PrepCom in New York.