Three leading arms control experts say a Bush administration plan for bioweapons research may violate an international bioweapons ban and encourage other countries to do the same.
The experts were responding to a presentation given by the deputy director of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, part of the Homeland Security department, who said last February that the center might study whether deadlier bacteria and viruses could be developed to ensure that U.S. defenses against the most lethal pathogens would be effective. The center could also look into developing aerosols that contain deadly germs and new methods of delivering germ-warfare agents.
In a statement, the arms control experts said: "The rapidity of elaboration of American biodefense programs, their ambition and administrative aggressiveness and the degree to which they push against the prohibitions of the Biological Weapons Convention are startling." Their statement, called "Biodefense, crossing the line," can be found on the Web site for the journal "Politics and the Life Sciences."