13 November 2005 - NATO LEGISLATORS WARN OF TERRORIST THREAT FROM RUSSIAN BW FACILITIES [PRESS COMMUNIQUE]
A warning that preventing terrorist groups from acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) related material, in the form of deadly pathogens, is probably the most important security challenge to the Euro-Atlantic community was given to the Science and Technology Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) meeting in Copenhagen today.
In a report delivered to the Committee on 'The Security of WMD Related Material in Russia', Senator Pierre Claude Nolin (Canada), General Rapporteur, claimed that the major problem is that samples of Biological Weapon (BW) agents are not adequately protected against theft. They are often located at old former Soviet anti-plague facilities which lack even the simplest security upgrades and are accessible to terrorist groups and criminals who would have little difficulty in acquiring these extremely portable but potentially lethal resources.
The report claims that despite signing the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1973, the Soviet Union, in fact, engaged in a vast clandestine BW programme, mainly under the aegis of Biopreparat - a civilian pharmaceutical conglomerate - which was neither realized at the time by Western intelligence nor by most of the scientists who worked there as being a contribution to the weapons programme.
Senator Nolin criticizes 'the paltry spending on biological weapons threats' saying that 'to date, far less than one per cent of the funds pledged to the Global Partnership have been committed to BW issues and one must ask what accounts for this unsatisfactory situation'.
His report concludes that efforts to eliminate dangers stemming from Russia's WMD complex should receive far greater international attention and would be enormously augmented by progress in other international initiatives including the Proliferation Security Initiative, the CTB Treaty, the Fissile Material Cut-Off treaty and the strengthening of the verification tools of the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention.
The NATO PA is currently holding its 51st Annual Session in Copenhagen. The 5-day event (Nov 11 - 15) is attended by 350 legislators from 40 nations.