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Wednesday, 27 October 2004
Put at risk for corporate gain?

Since we can't hold onto conventional weapons why not go for the full Monty?

LONDON, Oct. 25 -- Biological weapons that can wipe out entire populations pose one of the biggest threats to the world today, yet remain almost completely uncontrolled, the British Medical Association said on Monday.

The association urged the United States to end what it called efforts against strengthening the 1972 international Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention when it comes up for renewal in 2006.

He warned that the development of biological weapons designed to target specific ethnic groups was becoming increasingly possible, and said it was already theoretically possible to re-create devastating viruses such as the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 that killed as many as 40 million people.

Dando said the Bush administration had turned its back on many international accords, which he asserted was the key reason the convention remained weak.

The powerful U.S. biotechnology industry has put pressure on the administration not to back strong international monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, arguing that they could stifle research, Dando said.

Liability in Russia

Half the world's stockpile of plutonium and highly enriched uranium is in Russia. About 600 metric tons are warehoused in some form. Of that quantity, the Department of Energy reported at the end of 2003 that 22 percent is satisfactorily secured with U.S. technical and financial assistance.

The department predicted that such "comprehensive" upgrades would cover 26 percent of the stockpile by the end of this year.

Securing the materials is laborious, expensive and dangerous work. Bush decided to let two of the major programs lapse because Russia declined to accept a change in the agreement that would shield U.S. firms from liability for worker safety.

Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), who asked to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 15, noted Bush's emphasis on the "immense threat" of nuclear terrorism and said acidly, "I wonder if he has been advised that liability -- that the liability issue is preventing destruction of enough plutonium for about 10,000 weapons?"

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:17 PM EDT
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