. "The ISTC After Two Years." An Assessment of the International Science and Technology Center: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1996.
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union
taking place at one facility is dedicated to peaceful purposes, and the legacy of Soviet secrecy that surrounded its work on BW and CW makes it hard to dispel suspicions. As the committee argues below, this makes achieving transparency, which is one of the major goals of the ISTC assistance program, especially important, but it also makes it relatively easy for suspicion and mistrust to linger.
The nature of the disarmament regimes for the two types of weaponry also poses special problems. The use of BW and CW was first prohibited by the 1925 Geneva protocol, but neither type of weapon was banned outright. Both the United States and the Soviet Union maintained major offensive and defensive BW and CW research programs.11 CW was to be banned completely by the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which has unique and demanding verification provisions. Neither the United States nor Russia has ratified the CWC, but implementation programs are being prepared in anticipation of it taking effect. The Defense Department's CTR program provides assistance to Russia for the destruction of its massive chemical weapons arsenal.
By contrast, BW is governed by the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which not only has no verification provisions beyond periodic reporting but permits defensive BW research. The problem is, up to the final stages of weaponization, offensive research and defensive research are virtually indistinguishable. In 1992 the Russian Government confirmed the termination of offensive research and agreed to a trilateral process for the United States, Great Britain, and Russia to resolve questions about past activities and provide confidence in Russia's current activities. That process has stalled, however, fueling suspicions that Russia has not ceased all offensive research. These suspicions have led some in Congress to call for restrictions on the CTR program until it can be certified that Russia is in full compliance with the BWC. Assistance to the former BW (and to a lesser extent CW) research institutes therefore operates in a difficult political climate and, in many respects, faces higher standards in proving the effectiveness of the projects.
FINDING: The level of ISTC activity with biological andchemical warfare institutes is not proportional to thethreat.
As of March 1996 the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology had received five grants, totaling over $900,000, for projects to develop recombinant and immunobiological preparations, recombinant vaccine preparates, biopesticides, and technology for the elimination of environmental oil pollution. The committee found these projects to be useful and relevant to the ISTC's goals.
The committee notes that for all ISTC grants only 7 percent of scientists funded by ISTC grants have a background in CW or BW.12 The committee believes that this level of effort is not proportional to the threat and, as discussed in the next chapter, believes more emphasis should be placed on involving scientists and engineers with BW and CW backgrounds.
Biotechnology appears to be an exceptionally fruitful field that fosters the transition of Russian R&D. The Russian program includes scientists engaged in research on antiviral and antimicrobials, immunomodulators, and vaccines, as well as research on disease transmission, many aspects of which have potential utility for human and veterinary medicine. A report prepared for the ISTC in 1995 identified key BW technologies and capabilities that have the potential to be converted to civilian end uses.13 A follow-up report provided illustrative information on dual-use biotechnologies and related technologies in Russia.14 The committee notes an upcoming project, to be funded by the Department of Defense and carried out by the National Research Council, to design a comprehensive plan to engage former Soviet BW researchers in continuing collaborative research projects with the West. These projects would address public health problems in Russia as well as broader global health concerns—for example, the need to improve international research, surveillance, and monitoring of emergent diseases. U.S. agricultural research institutes also have shown interest in such research institutes as the Center for Applied Microbiology for potential collaboration on research related to agricultural biotechnology.
FINDING: The U.S. biotechnology industry can benefitfrom partnerships with former biological warfare institutes in the FSU.
One reason that large U.S. pharmaceutical firms have been hesitant to become involved with BW institutes is that they generally do not meet U.S. good manufacturing process (GMP) standards, raising concerns about liability and dual standards of quality. U.S. companies have also been unwilling to risk investing in new, from-the-ground-up facilities in the FSU to take advantage of the talent of experienced researchers15 But the problems with the facilities in the FSU
The United States unilaterally halted its offensive BW research in 1969 and led the effort to create the Biological Weapons Convention.
The International Science and Technology Center: Second AnnualReport; January–December 1995, ISTC, Moscow, 1995, p. 6.
Biotechnology: Key Capabilities and Commercial Requirements, report to International Science and Technology Center, prepared by Orion Enterprises, Inc., Fredericksburg, VA, 1995.
Report to the International Science and Technology Center: Commer-cial Opportunities for Russian Biotechnology, prepared by Novecon and Technoconsult, Reston, VA, 1995.
This view is supported by Anthony Rimmington in a discussion of the conversion of BW facilities to civilian activities: “. . . the absence of international manufacturing standards, the possibility of contamination and the appalling quality of existing buildings has meant that such (military microbiological) facilities have failed to secure the necessary investment of Western pharmaceutical companies ” (“From Military to Industrial Complex? The Conversion of Biological Weapons' Facilities in the Russian Federation,” Contemporary Security Policy, vol. 17, no. 1, 1996, p. 81).