Assistant Secretary Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman today said the United States is still concerned about state-sponsored biological warfare and proliferation, and is equally concerned about an act of bioterrorism due to the rapid pace of advances in the life sciences.
In his remarks on “Charting the Future of Biosecurity: Ten Years After the Anthrax Attacks Center for Biosecurity,” Mr. Countryman said his job is to speak a little about the international aspect.
“Today’s anniversary is somber as we look back ten years at the anthrax attacks – it is the right moment to look ahead, as we have been doing, to figure out what we need to do to be prepared to move ahead with the essential goals of biosecurity.” -Mr. Countryman
According to Mr. Countryman, the year 2001 was not only the year of the anthrax attacks. A few months before, in the summer of 2001, the U.S. officially withdrew its support for negotiations on a legally binding verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention.
“The anthrax events themselves demonstrated the importance of what we were proposing. Those attacks demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the verification protocol in addressing what we might call “classical” biological weapons threats – states programs and even more the threat posed by non-state actors.” -Mr. Countryman
He stressed that the anthrax attack demonstrated that when it came to the proliferation of biological weapons and the risk of an attack, the world community faced a greater threat, from a wider range of sources, based on a new calculus.
“They understood that the BW threat from non-state actors needed to be addressed, and focusing on what countries were doing domestically to counter this real-world threat from sub-state actors was both critical to our collective security and to achieving the goals of the Biological Weapons Convention.” -Mr. Countryman
He cited that today, the threat has not gone away. The United States fully recognize that a major biological attack on one of the world’s major cities could cause as much death and economic and psychological damage as a nuclear attack.
“And so today, it is time for still more ambitious thinking.” -Mr. Countryman
Mr. Brownman stressed that the United States we will work with the international community to promote the peaceful and beneficial use of life sciences, in accordance with the Biological Weapons Convention’s Article Ten, to combat infectious diseases regardless of their cause.
He added that the U.S. government will work to promote global health security by increasing the availability of and access to knowledge and products of the life sciences to help reduce the impact from outbreaks of infectious disease, whether of natural, accidental, or deliberate origin.
“We will work toward establishing and reinforcing norms against the misuse of the life sciences. We seek to ensure a culture of responsibility, awareness, and vigilance among all who use and benefit from the life sciences.” -Mr. Countryman