In the News March 25
Behind U.S. Refusal to Speak Clearly about Its Biological Research Labs in Ukraine
Significance of State Department’s “Biodefense” Argument
U.S. government officials, repeated by the media, say that the U.S. does not have biological weapons in Ukraine or elsewhere. At the same time, the State Department speaks of the danger of what they call “biodefense” activities, using deadly pathogens, possibly falling into Russian hands. It is useful to examine what has been stated, and the current context of the conflict in Ukraine, to get at the heart of the matter.
At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 8, Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland testified concerning U.S. actions in Ukraine. When questioned by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, she stated that Ukraine has biological research facilities. Rubio asked, “Does Ukraine have chemical or biological weapons?” Nuland responded, “Ukraine has biological research facilities, which, in fact, we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of. So, we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.”
The State Department’s Victoria Nuland was Obama and Biden’s point person in the Maidan coup in 2014 that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government and brought in a pro-U.S. government, including neo-Nazis. In her opening statement Nuland did not hesitate to salute these neo-Nazis by promoting their slogan when speaking of people in Ukraine who are fighting, saying, “We honor their sacrifice and bravery. Slava Ukrayini; Heroyam Slava (Glory to Ukraine; Glory to the Heroes).” This is consistent with U.S. backing and promotion of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine as part of controlling the Ukrainian people. Yet nothing is said of the threat from these neo-Nazis, organized in Odessa for example, when it comes to what the State Department calls its “biodefense” labs.
Responding to a reporter, the State Department issued the following statement: “The U.S. Department of Defense does not own or operate biological laboratories in Ukraine.” Sidestepping the fact that they fund such laboratories, the Department said, “Undersecretary Nuland was referring to Ukrainian diagnostic and biodefense laboratories during her testimony, which are not biological weapons facilities,” and that “These institutions counter biological threats throughout the country.” They also engage in research as to how such pathogens can be spread, using fleas, ticks, bats, birds, etc.
The use of the word defense is deliberate. It is worth noting that the U.S. changed the name of its War Department to Department of Defense. The U.S. and Pentagon also said the war against Afghanistan was for defensive purposes, just as it claims its bombs and nuclear bombers are “peacemakers.” The use of the term “biodefense” thus does not carry much weight.
Perhaps the Pentagon can tell the Vietnamese that napalm and Agent Orange are not biological weapons, tell the Iraqis and others that depleted uranium weaponry is not a chemical weapon, tell the many demonstrators in the U.S. who have to contend with teargas that it is not a chemical weapon, even though it is considered a chemical weapon banned in war. Agent Orange was not only used, it was dangerously kept stored for long periods in Okinawa, Japan, and in Gulfport, Mississippi until 1977, as well as on many other military bases. The military keeps secret what other pathogens and biological agents may be stored at its hundreds of bases in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition, there are various examples speaking to the existence of “biological research facilities” in Ukraine, funded by the U.S., including the Pentagon’s Biological Threat Reduction Program.
The Defense Department has a website that contains a media clip about the opening of a biological research facility in Ukraine in 2010:
“U.S. Senator Dick Lugar applauded the opening of the Interim Central Reference Laboratory in Odessa, Ukraine, this week, announcing that it will be instrumental in researching dangerous pathogens used by bioterrorists. The level-3 bio-safety lab will be used to study anthrax, tularemia and Q Fever, as well as other dangerous pathogens.”
There is also a 2011 report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences that explains that the Odessa-based laboratory “is responsible for the identification of especially dangerous biological pathogens.” The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine also had a web page explaining that U.S. and Ukrainian scientists have worked on many experiments related to “dangerous biological pathogens.” Some of the projects include work on African swine fever virus, hemorrhagic fever virus, and various respiratory viruses. The Embassy’s website contained links to fact sheets about U.S. support for biological research in Ukraine, including Pentagon funding. Given decades of such work, one wonders why there are still so many dangerous biological pathogens present in Ukraine and elsewhere.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, at a Press Conference on March 8, also raised an important question. Given all the U.S. denials about biological weapons, why is it refusing to have verification of the safety of existing labs, in Ukraine, the U.S. and elsewhere, he asked. “Under current circumstances, for the sake of the health and safety of people in Ukraine, neighbouring regions and beyond, we call on relevant sides to ensure the safety of these labs. The U.S., in particular, as the party that knows the labs the best, should disclose specific information as soon as possible, including which viruses are stored and what research has been conducted.” If safety of the people is the concern, why not do so?
“The U.S. has been standing alone in obstructing the establishment of a Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) verification mechanism and refusing verification of its biological facilities at home and abroad for the past two decades. This has led to deeper concern of the international community. Once again, we urge the U.S. to give a full account of its biological military activities at home and abroad and subject itself to multilateral verification,” Zhao Lijian added.
Among the 183 signatories to the convention, the U.S. is the only one that pulled out of negotiations for such a mechanism in 2001 and refuses to submit to verification in the name of its “defense” and “national security” interests.
Inside the U.S., the National Institute of Health (NIH) has responsibility for level 4 biological labs. The just passed budget for fiscal 2021-22 provides for NIH to have an overall increase of around five percent, to a total budget of $45 billion. The bill also provides provisions for a new agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H), which will be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Few doubt that the two agencies will work together.
In the context of the current conflict in Ukraine, the confusion spread about the biolabs falling into wrong hands serves to hide the current role of the U.S. in instigating, provoking, and ensuring the conflict and that the U.S. has no regard for the health and safety of the people of Ukraine, Europe or beyond, any more than it has concern for the people of the United States itself. Its concern, as Nuland said when she spoke to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 8, is for keeping its research and dangerous pathogens secure. While the U.S. refuses any verification program, it is using the issue to promote Russia as the danger and provide justification for further military, political and economic actions.
This is why when Nuland spoke to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she underscored the massive U.S. troop deployment to the region: “In recent weeks, we have significantly increased U.S. military personnel positioned in Europe and its waters, which now total approximately 100,000. We have more than doubled our forces in Poland and sent thousands of troops to the Baltics, Romania, and elsewhere on NATO’s eastern flank — along with advanced combat aviation.” She again issued the threat of broader war instigated by the U.S. and NATO.
While refusing verification of its biological facilities in Ukraine, it is diverting attention by seeking to instill fear of what will happen if they fall into enemy hands and overwhelming everyone with the message that “NATO is united, and our commitment to Article 5 is ironclad.” All of it is to divert the peoples from their just demands to Dismantle NATO! Bring All U.S. Troops Home!
TML Daily, posted March 25, 2022.