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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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U.S. Report Finds Active Biological Weapons Programs in Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria

The U.S. State Department has found that Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria are maintaining biological weapons programs, the Associated Press reported last week (see GSN, March 29).

The State Department also found that China still has “some elements” of a biological weapons program, while experts failed to agree on Cuba’s bioweapons production capacity, AP reported.

The findings were outlined in the State Department’s “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” report. The congressionally mandated report, covering the two-year period ending in December 2004, details individual country’s WMD capabilities and missile proliferation efforts, according to AP.

According to the report: Based on available intelligence, Iran is believed to have an offensive biological weapons program; North Korea has a “dedicated, national-level effort to develop a BW capability; Russia “continues to maintain” a weapons program; and Syria would be in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention if it was a member.

China “maintains some elements of an offensive BW capability,” while Cuba has at least a “limited offensive BW research and development effort,” the report found (George Gedda, Associated Press/Baltimore Sun, Aug. 30).

 China rejected the report’s findings, according to Voice of America.

“These statements are far from the truth, and are irresponsible,” said Zhang Yan, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control department. “We hope that the U.S. side will stop such erroneous practices, and we also express our strong dissatisfaction” (Luis Ramirez, Voice of America, Sept. 1).

Russia has also challenged statements made in the report regarding its weapons programs, RIA Novosti reported last week.

“Those are not new accusations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The Russian Foreign Ministry has had to comment on similar points in other ‘research papers’ that put Russia in a group of countries violating nonproliferation agreements without providing any evidence many times before.”

The Foreign Ministry said the report presents “a one-sided and distorted picture of the implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.”

Russia said the State Department offered no evidence that it has failed to honor its Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention commitments (RIA Novosti, Sept. 1).

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