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Russia warns of growing US-funded bio-weapons labs in region

Head of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev (Photo by RIA Novosti)

A senior Russian security official has warned of a rising number of US-funded research facilities that produce biological weaponry in countries near Russia’s borders, describing the effort as “a real problem.”

Speaking after a Russian Security Council meeting, the head of the agency, Nikolay Patrushev, said that Washington pours “tens of billions of dollars” into bio-weapons laboratories that operate on the territories of the Commonwealth of [newly] Independent States (CIS) that were part of the former Soviet bloc and that now surround Russia, RT reported Saturday.

“There are also other problems, such as the production of military-oriented biological weapons and the very large funding allocated to this,” Patrushev added.

“This is tens of billions of dollars. Additionally, the number of laboratories under US jurisdiction or control has increased 20 times,” he said, expressing further concerns that such laboratories “operated and operate” on CIS territories.

According to the report, among Moscow’s primary concerns is a US-funded research facility for high-level biohazard agents based near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, called the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public and Animal Health Research.

“American and Georgian authorities are trying to cover up the real nature of this US military unit, which studies highly dangerous infectious diseases. The Pentagon is trying to establish similar covert medico-biological facilities in other countries [in Russia’s neighborhood],” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released in June.

At the time, Moscow also blamed the US for derailing “decades of international effort to strengthen” the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), a 1972 international treaty aimed at eliminating bio-weapons across the globe. It also accused Washington of encircling Russia with bio-weapons labs.

Chemical weapons

Patrushev, the head of the Russian Security Council, also pointed to Russia’s chemical weapons stockpile, reiterating that Russia plans to dispose of its remaining arsenal by 2020 – eight years earlier than the US.

“We are putting into practice a program to get rid of chemical weapons. Russia will dispose of these weapons by 2020. It was expected that the US will also destroy these weapons by that time, but according to today’s plans, it will carry out the disposal by 2028,” said the senior Russian security official.

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), there is a legally binding, world-wide ban on the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors.

However, large stockpiles of such weapons continue to exist, including in Russia, usually justified as only a precaution against putative use by an aggressor.

As of September 2015, 192 states have given their consent to be bound by the CWC. The Israeli regime has signed but not ratified the agreement. Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan have neither signed nor acceded to the treaty.

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