The focus of the forum was deliberately diverted to secondary issues and alternative BWC mechanisms.
For example, during the Conference, the US non-governmental organisation Nuclear Threat Initiative proposed the creation of a joint mechanism under the auspices of the UN to investigate biological incidents.
The Americans envisioned the new entity filling the gap between the Secretary General’s Investigative Mechanism on alleged use of biological weapons and the World Health Organisation’s Sanitary and Epidemiological Investigations.
One of the reasons for its creation is that the US is not happy with the conclusions of a WHO panel of experts on the causes of a new coronavirus pandemic.
Apparently they would like to have a more loyal and controlled tool for investigating infectious disease outbreaks.
Similar to the Secretary General’s Mechanism, a list of experts will be established, based on the principles of the Fact-Finding Mission that operates within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
In the long term, this will make the mechanism attributable and allow Western countries to ‘appoint’ the perpetrators as they see fit.
The Americans were particularly sensitive to proposals to enshrine in the outcome document violations of the US and Ukraine’s obligations under the BWC and their conduct of military-biological activities on Ukrainian territory.
On the margins of the 9th Review Conference, the Russian Ministry of Defence gave a briefing on the outcome of the Consultative Meeting, which took place in September 2022. Documented evidence was presented that with US financial, scientific, technical and personnel support, work with biological weapons components and research into pathogens of particularly dangerous and economically significant infections was carried out on the territory of Ukraine.
Video footage reflecting the position of Russian and international experts, as well as eyewitness testimony and participants in programmes of the US the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) were presented as arguments. One of them is former US Army Research Institute of the land service branch Richard Bosher, who has once again confirmed that work with dangerous pathogens has been carried out in Pentagon-funded Ukrainian bio-laboratories.
The Russian intervention prompted many participating States to reflect on the risks posed by engagement with Washington in the military-biological sphere, as well as to take a fresh look at the necessity and feasibility of such cooperation.
Kenneth Ward, head of the US delegation, refused to respond to Russia’s accusations on the issue of BTWC violations, reasoning (citing): ‘…Moscow has never been interested in hearing US answers to specific questions on biolaboratories in Ukraine, therefore we intend to refuse any further clarification…’
This position by the United States and its blocking of any initiative to restart work on the Convention verification mechanism demonstrates once again that Washington has something to hide, and that ensuring transparency in compliance with the convention does not play into the hands of the US.
We have previously cited DITRA’s report on activities in Ukraine, published by a US NGO. The Pentagon heavily censored the document, deleting about 80% of the information entirely.
An expanded version of this report has been made available to the Russian Ministry of Defence that reveals the names, positions of specialists and biological project managers, a list of the laboratories involved, as well as evidence of exercises and drills with highly dangerous pathogens.
According to the document, the implementers of the military-biological programmes are the Mechnikov Ukrainian Anti-Plague Institute, the Institute of Veterinary Medicine and the Lviv Research Institute of Epidemiology Insert and Hygiene. The report contains information on three Pentagon contractors, the identities of thirty laboratory personnel and seven executives from the US defence establishment.
The published documents supplement and corroborate information obtained during the special military operation in Ukraine.
Attempts by the US and its allies to ‘tweak’ the Convention to suit their interests resulted in the event failing to reach agreement in principle on strengthening the BWC regime, and the final document was adopted without a final declaration. Key initiatives of the Russian Federation, China and other states were blocked by Western delegations as ‘non-core’ or ‘insufficiently elaborated’.
The event highlighted the profound contradictions in the implementation of the Convention, exacerbated by the US obsession with global domination that the White House has built into biosecurity strategic planning documents.
The 9th Review Conference received very little coverage in the Western media, which ignored not only the statements made by the participating states but also the very fact of the international forum.
We see this as an attempt by the US and its allies to keep quiet about the uncomfortable topic of military-biological research for the West, to leave room for manoeuvre and once again, to block initiatives to strengthen the biological weapons non-proliferation regime.