Bob Barney: As I noted in the first story today concerning the American government using its own people as guinea pigs, one can see why we are doing it. Like it or not, the Russians, Iran, North Korea, China, and a host of other nations are doing the same. The result could be billions dead, as the Bible predicts!
At minimum, Soviet officials appear to have increased production of an anthrax weapon because they falsely believed that the United States was doing the same, contend the authors of “The Soviet Biological Weapons Program,” an exhaustively researched, 890-page history of the Soviet Union’s 65-year effort to develop the tools for germ warfare.
“It may have led to the massive expansion of the Soviet b. anthracis program,” write Milton Leitenberg and Raymond Zilinskas, scientists and biological weapons experts who interviewed some of the Soviet Union’s former top bioweaponeers during more than a decade of research for the book. Russia maintains a policy of official denial with regard to Soviet-era production of bioweapons, which were banned by an international treaty signed by the Soviet Union in 1972. But former Russian president Boris Yeltsin confirmed the existence of a secret Soviet program to top U.S. officials in the early 1990s, and since then, defectors, former Soviet scientists, U.S. officials and journalists have published extensive accounts.
Despite repeated requests, Russian officials also have refused to allow outside access to three biological laboratories operated by the Defense Ministry.
The labs were part of the Soviet-era program, and it is “reasonable to conclude” that collections of microbes from the weapons program are warehoused there, in the same way that disease strains are kept in heavily guarded military and civilian laboratories in the United States, the authors say. They add that the lack of any transparency raises concerns about the security of the collections and the possibility of continuing research.
“One must assume that whatever genetically engineered bacterial and viral forms were created . . . remain stored in the culture collections of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense,” the authors write.