US Working on 'Universal' Genetically Engineered Bioweapon: Russian Parliamentary Investigation

© AP Photo / Thomas KienzleAn analytical chemist shows a petri dish with salmonella. File photo.
An analytical chemist shows a petri dish with salmonella. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.04.2023
Russian lawmakers have completed an investigation into Washington's military-related biological activities at laboratories across Ukraine on the basis of findings made public by Russia's Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops over the past year.
Washington is working on a "universal" genetically engineered bioweapon designed to cause severe damage to enemies comparable to that of a "nuclear winter," a Russian parliamentary commission investigating US biolabs in Ukraine has concluded.

"The United States aims to develop a universal genetically engineered biological weapon capable of infecting not only people, but animals as well as agricultural crops. Its use involves, among other things, the goal of inflicting large-scale and irreparable economic damage on the enemy," the commission wrote in its final report.

"The covert and targeted use of such a weapon in anticipation of a positive inevitable direct military confrontation could create a significant advantage for US forces over the adversary, even against those who possess other types of weapons of mass destruction," the commission added. "The possession of such highly effective biological weapons creates, in the view of the US military, the real prerequisites to change the nature of contemporary armed conflicts."
The commission report indicated that unfortunately, contemporary scientific advancements in the fields of genetic engineering, biotechnology, toxicology and synthetic biology have increased the possibility of their use to create advanced biological weapons agents of a new generation - at the same time that detecting and identifying their use using traditional diagnosis tools has become extremely difficult. "The situation is aggravated by the fact that the production of such biological agents can easily be dispersed over various industrial enterprises, disguising them as products used for peaceful purposes," the document noted.
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The creation of new, ever more advanced biological agents doesn't remove the dangers posed by traditional bioweapons, the report stressed. Among these are agents including "smallpox, anthrax, tularemia and the plague, all of which can be modified to enhance their deadly properties. Added to this is the objective difficulty in determining the true cause of outbreaks of infectious diseases, which can be both natural and artificial."

US Bioweapons Danger

The Duma commission report cited the US bioweapons programs dotting the globe as the biggest clear and present danger to the biological security of both Russia and the world.

"The US military biological program has not only not been curtailed, but has acquired a large-scale character in recent years with a focus on offensive actions, carried out under the guise of activities which are permitted under the Biological Weapons Convention, as well as anti-terrorism projects. The United States is supporting and developing the ability to produce biological weapons and, if necessary, to use them. However, there have been changes in Washington's strategic view with regard to the role of bioweapons in geopolitical competition, and the means of its possible use," the report said.

US bioweapons programs are long term in nature, with their roots dating back to cruel experiments conducted on civilians and prisoners of war by Imperial Japan during the Second World War, including against citizens of the USSR. "In our country, captured Japanese militarists were brought to justice within the framework of the Khabarovsk Process; however, in the US, such 'specialists' were provided safety, with their work factually continuing to live on to this day in the contemporary US programs on the development of biological weapons," the report said.
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According to the parliamentary commission, a key difference between traditional bioweapons programs and contemporary ones being pursued by the Pentagon is the propensity for the use of pathogens of little-studied natural infections with a high mortality rate, a long incubation period and symptoms typical of common diseases. This complicates adversaries' ability to discover the use of such weapons, and to quickly identify the attacker, the report indicated.
Among the biggest threats, according to the commission, is the military biological research based on work with the decoded human genome, which threatens to "radically" change the entire geopolitical and military situation in the world, and is comparable in significance to the start of the 'atomic era' in the 1940s and 1950s.

'Key Role' Played by Subcontractors

Drawing on evidence provided by the Russian military over the past year on US military biological activities in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus and countries in Africa and Asia, the commission pointed to the "key role" played by facilities abroad in the implementation of the Pentagon's bioweapons programs.
"Washington is systematically creating an extensive network of biological laboratories beyond its national jurisdiction, allowing it to carry out a wide range of military-oriented biological research under the guise of medical biological projects," the report stated. "This factually results in the 'military-biological occupation' of the entire plant, which opens to the US unrestricted access to information on the state of the health, microbiological and biological infrastructure of host countries."
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Foreign countries effectively serve as a 'testing ground' for US military biological researchers to study infectious agents in the climactic conditions of their habitat, to monitor their distribution and mutation, and determine the prospects for strengthening their dangerous properties," the commission indicated. "The lack of international control over such work provides the United States the opportunity to act in other countries without being restrained by moral and legal norms and humanistic principles, and to ignore the demands of the public." These efforts are further hidden from public view via the transfer of programs to civilian ministries and private companies, the report stated.
The report pointed to the special attention US bioweapons research has committed to the transmission of pathogens which attack humans using insects, mammals and wild birds, including the study and identification of their migration routes.
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"The results of this research provided American military biologists the ability to not only simulate the scenarios of the spread of epidemics in a particular region, but the opportunity to control them. They are also working out the 'biological routes' of the likely injection of atypical diseases through third countries to a territory of interest," the commission said.
"The analysis of strategic US documents in the field of defense and security indicates that the activities in biolaboratories under their control are focused on providing potential military advantages to the US military and the waging of military operations using pathogenic microorganisms with desired properties created using synthetic biology," the report said.
The commission believes the choice of countries where US bioweapons research infrastructure takes place is made on the basis of geopolitical considerations, and designed for scenarios in which host countries serve as a potential "bridgehead" against enemies in the event of conflicts.
This is particularly true in relation to US military biological activities in the post-Soviet space, the commission says, where their presence "allows the Pentagon to address a wide range of tasks: from the targeted collection of pathogens of especially dangerous infectious diseases and the study of of the reaction of immune systems of local populations to preparations of the territories of the former Soviet republics in the anti-epidemic sense for the deployment of large US military contingents there."
The report considers the continued implementation of Pentagon biomilitary programs in the post-Soviet space a key security risk, given the free flow of people and goods across the region, including within the Eurasian Economic Community, the Commonwealth of Independent States or the Collective Security Treaty Organization, as well as labor migration, animal and bird migration, air flows and river flows.
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In light of US activities, the commission highlights the need to develop and implement a "complex of urgent, effective measures aimed at strengthening the system of biological security of the country and to bring it into line with contemporary realities." This includes a proposed reexamination of government regulatory and legal acts in the field of biological safety and security, including for the "synchronization of existing monitoring" activities and the "creation of a single network of biological risk monitoring."
The report proposes the preparation of an annual report submitted to the president and parliament on the "state of biological safety in the Russian Federation," and the clarification of penalties for non-compliance with mandatory requirements in the field of biological safety, as well as measures to facilitate the identification and assessment of the long-term impact of infectious diseases and vaccines for them on human health. The commission recommends the creation of a registry of products necessary to ensure public safety, and a list of enterprises capable of producing these items.
"The commission notes that national biological security should be centralized and have systemic capabilities in the detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases." The report highlights the need to create, test and certify vaccines against non-endemic viruses "as quickly as possible after the recognition of the threat of an epidemic," and to create tools to allow for "the rapid modification of these vaccines to adapt to new pathogens."
It also proposes the creation of a "control mechanism" for research in biotechnology and synthetic biology and related disciplines whose activities are carried out with the involvement of foreign capital, including grant funding, and the strengthening of export controls on biological materials from Russia. The document stresses the need to "intensify work to reduce Russia's technological dependence from foreign manufacturers of pharmacological products and the formation of a domestic segment for the production of medical and protective equipment" and medicines.
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