US Accuses Syria of Producing Biological Weapons
The United States has accused Iran, Iraq and Syria of producing biological weapons, said reports.
The accusation was made in remarks by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld published in Canberra, Australia on Monday.
Middle East Newsline (MENL) quoted US officials as saying these programs are in violation of the 1972 ban on biological weapons. The accusation was the first that publicly identified Damascus as being engaged in both chemical and biological weapons, the news service said, adding that the allegation was later supported by Secretary of State Colin Powell. The two secretaries were attending the annual Australia-US Ministerial (Ausmin) summit opened by Prime Minister John Howard on Monday.
"When the treaty was signed, it was clear the people participating thought it was not verifiable," Rumsfeld told an Australian newspaper. "It is something that has been signed on to by countries like Syria, Iran and Iraq -- a number of nations that are not noted for their restraint in some of these issues."
Last week, the United States rejected revisions to the Biological Weapons Convention. US officials said the changes would allow industrial espionage in Western countries while failing to stop the biological weapons programs of rogue states.
According to AFP, the two top US officials warned US military intelligence had identified "a non-trivial" number of countries were engaged in what Rumsfeld termed "weaponizing with respect to biological warfare".
He made the comments in defense of Washington's decision, which is strongly opposed by Australia, not to adopt an international draft protocol on biological weapons controls, said the agency.
The US position on biological weapons emerged Monday as the most contentious issue in the first top-level meeting of the two allies since George W. Bush took office in January. The meeting also marks the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS (Australia-New Zealand-US) alliance.
Washington argues the potential for so-called "rogue states" to mount nuclear and biological weapon attacks on the US and its allies as its main reason for pushing ahead with plans to develop a missile defense shield.
Powell was quoted by AFP as telling commercial television he would be "very naive if I did not attribute that potential intent to North Korea, Iran and Iraq,” but denied the shield would be deployed against Russia or China.
He said it would be prudent for America to develop a limited missile-defense system targeted against nations which were attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction -- "not against Soviet or Russian retaliatory forces or Chinese retaliatory forces."
The proposal has attracted sharp criticism from many traditional US allies, along with Russia and China, but Australia has voiced its support for deployment of the anti-missile shield, according to the agency – Albawaba.com
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