Russia accused U.S. lawmakers of hosting “a propaganda event” last week to examine its biological-weapons potential, Interfax reports.
The Russian foreign ministry dismissed assertions in May 7 congressional testimony that Moscow may continue to oversee a biological-arms program. The ministry blamed the United States for the absence of a monitoring system under the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits member nations from developing, manufacturing or possessing biological materials for use in combat.
“Russia supports consistently enhancing [the treaty] by drafting and passing an additional legally binding protocol stipulating, among other things, nondiscriminatory and efficient verification measures,” the ministry argued in prepared comments.
The United States unilaterally cut short a decade of “significant work” by treaty signatories to establish verification procedures, and since that time has remained steadfast in its opposition to a monitoring regime, the Russian office stated.
Russia issued the remarks in reaction to a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, where University of Maryland senior scholar Milton Leitenberg said the existence of a Russian biological-arms program cannot be ruled out because Moscow does not permit outside access to key facilities of concern.
According to the ministry, “It is surprising that certain representatives of the U.S. establishment continue demanding unilateral access to the Russian biological facilities amid the U.S. refusal from such a fair and clear [verification] mechanism. Such demands are inappropriate and unacceptable.”
The foreign office added that participants in the congressional hearing misinterpreted a 2012 article in which Russian President Vladimir Putin said “genetic” technologies could pave the way for more sophisticated biological arms.
The leader suggested that such techniques “could be used abroad,” but the “thought was turned upside down at the hearing in the Congress,” the Russian ministry said.