Released by the U.S. Delegation to the 5th Review Conference of the BWC
November 14, 2002
U.S. Efforts to Combat the Biological Weapons Threat
The biological weapons (BW) threat is real, growing, extremely dangerous, and evolving rapidly with the pace of technology. In the past year, significant progress has been made to combat the threat. This fact sheet outlines some of the steps the United States has taken, nationally, plurilaterally, and multilaterally, to make it more difficult for countries or terrorist groups to develop and/or acquire biological weapons. It also outlines measures that the United States has endorsed to facilitate detection and response to an attack using biological weapons.
The USA Patriot Act, signed in October 2001, provides national security and Federal law enforcement officials with enhanced tools to better counter terrorist activities in three areas:
The U.S. Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, June 2002, enhances controls on dangerous biological agents and toxins that could pose a threat to public health and safety. The Act requires:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services dedicated $1 billion to upgrade U.S. public health system’s capability to counter bioterrorism. HHS has established a program focused on:
In May 2002, NATO’s Defense Group on Proliferation set forth a series of mutually-supporting initiatives designed to:
In June 2002, Australia Group members adopted tougher export measures to better control items which could be used to produce BW, including adding controls on the transfer of information and knowledge that could aid BW proliferation. AG members:
In June 2002, G-8 members announced the "G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction." The U.S. pledged $10 billion to enhance key U.S. nonproliferation projects in the former Soviet Union. Key BW-related projects include securing pathogens, employing former weapons scientists, and enhancing export controls and border security. The U.S. urged other G-8 states to donate $10 billion over 10 years hence the name "10+10 over 10."
The Ottawa Group (G-7 Ministers of Health plus Mexico’s Minister of Health) have met periodically since September 11, 2001 to explore ways to strengthen collaborative efforts to better prepare for and counter bioterrorist threats. The Group will meet again in December to discuss and make decisions on:
In May 2002, World Health Organization (WHO) members agreed to strengthen health surveillance systems to detect any possible BW attack and improve international response to stop any resultant outbreak. WHO members agreed to:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will support the extension of an early warning surveillance network to an international capability. Epidemiologists will be positioned in population centers around the world. Their role will be to provide early warning by reporting the detection, diagnosis, and mitigation of illness and injury caused by biological or chemical terrorism.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) has developed an action plan to improve border security by strengthening members’ inspections of international cargo traffic.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) has an effort to stop the shipping of biological agents for hostile purposes and to criminalize the use of biological weapons on maritime vessels. In December 2002, IMO members will consider new regulations to enhance ship and port security.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members recently affirmed their collective commitment to battle terrorism.