Preventing Proliferation of Biological Weapons: U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet States
CRS Report for Congress
Preventing Proliferation of Biological Weapons:
U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet States
Updated April 19, 2002
Michelle Stem Cook
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Amy F. Woolf
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Preventing Proliferation of Biological Weapons: U.S.
Assistance to the Former Soviet States
The former Soviet and subsequently Russian biological weapons program
possessed capabilities far in excess of any such program known to have existed
elsewhere. These capabilities included genetically-altered, antibiotic-resistant
pathogens and sophisticated delivery systems. Approximately fifty biological research
and production centers (BRPCs) throughout the former Soviet Union devoted either
all or part of their work to the program. In the post-Soviet era, former Soviet states
drastically reduced and in some cases eliminated funding for these BRPCs.
Thousands of BW scientists became unemployed or underemployed, and the facilities,
weapons technology, and thousands of strains of pathogens at these BRPCs became
vulnerable to theft, sale or misuse.
In the mid-1990s, the United States began engaging BRPCs throughout the
former Soviet Union in four kinds of cooperative projects aimed at preventing
proliferation of BW capabilities. Collaborative research projects involve former BW
scientists in projects with American scientists and seek to deter former BW scientists
from selling their expertise to terrorist groups or proliferating states. Several U.S.
government agencies are involved in collaborative research projects, most of which
are funded through the international science centers. Biosafety enhancement projects
are intended to make BRPCs safe places for collaborating scientists to work. In
combination, collaborative research and biosafety enhancement projects give U.S.
officials routine access to laboratories and facilities that were once used for BW
research and production. BioSecurity projects consolidate and restrict access to
pathogens. Dismantlement projects target excess infrastructure and BW equipment
at BRPC sites for permanent dismantlement. Biosafety, BioSecurity, and
Dismantlement projects are funded through and carried out by DOD’s Cooperative
Threat Reduction Program.
U.S. participants in these projects identify several lessons learned in the past few
years. First, it has become clear that the infrastructure of the Soviet/Russian BW
complex was more extensive than most analysts realized when the United States
initiated its efforts to prevent proliferation of BW capabilities from former Soviet
states. Cooperative projects at some BRPCs have helped open doors to other
BRPCs, and since 1995, more than forty BRPCs have been involved in cooperative
projects with the United States. Second, U.S. participants report that biosafety,
biosecurity, and dismantlement projects require complex negotiations, complex
engineering work, considerable project management support, and innovative solutions
for problems specific to each BRPC. Consequently, they have learned that the United
States may need to offer a long-term commitment if it wants to complete the effort.
At the same time, the U.S. agencies with BW nonproliferation programs recognize the
need to maximize the nonproliferation benefits of U.S. assistance in an environment
with limited resources. Finally, U.S. participants have discovered that interpersonal
and institutional relationships resulting from these cooperative efforts may play a
powerful role in preventing proliferation of BW capabilities from former Soviet states.
Introduction ................................................... 1
The Soviet/Russian Biological Weapons Program.......................2
Background ................................................ 2
Soviet BW Capabilities.......................................3
Revelations about the Soviet/Russian BW Program..................4
The Threat Posed by the Soviet/Russian BW Program................5
The U.S. Response..............................................7
Policy Objectives for Nonproliferation Efforts......................7
The State Department ........................................8
The Science Centers......................................8
Redirection of Biotechnical Scientists Program..................9
Department of Agriculture.............................9
Department of Health and Human Services................10
Environmental Protection Agency.......................10
Department of Energy.......................................10
Department of Defense......................................11
Department of Commerce....................................12
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)........................13
Absence of U.S. Biological Weapons Complex....................14
Coordination of Interagency Efforts.............................15
Measuring the Results.......................................15
Issues for Congress.............................................17
The Security Assistance Act of 2001............................17
The Russian Federation Debt Reduction for Nonproliferation Act..17
The Non-Proliferation Assistance Coordination Act of 2001.......18
Funding .................................................. 19
Alternatives for the Future........................................20
Acronyms .................................................... 22
List of Tables
Table 1. U.S. Programs to Assist Russia with Biological Weapons
Preventing Proliferation of Biological
Weapons: U.S. Assistance to the Former
The events of September and October 2001 undermined long-held assumptions
about U.S. vulnerability and the threat of attack with weapons of mass destruction.1
The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon led many to believe that neither
respect for human life nor the will to self-preservation would stop some people from
attacking the United States. Then a few letters laced with anthrax caused death,
terror, and disruption and exposed the United States’ vulnerability to biological
attack. Speaking about these events, former Senator Sam Nunn stated, “We lost our
sense of invulnerability but as the world is learning, we also lost our sense of
The United States has been concerned about the potential for proliferation of
deadly weapons or materials from the former Soviet Union for more than a decade.
These concerns grew in the latter half of 2001. The 107th Congress held several
hearings specifically to examine biological weapons programs and the possibility that3
they might be used against the United States. Testimony often centered on the
legacy of the Soviet and subsequent Russian biological weapons (BW) program. The
size and scope of that program reportedly dwarfed any BW program known to have
1Most analysts consider nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons to be “weapons of mass
destruction (WMD).” Some argue that biological weapons are not weapons of mass
destruction, but weapons of mass casualties. Others point out that some biological weapons
can destroy agricultural and environmental targets on a massive scale.
2 “What changed September 11 was not our vulnerability to terrorism but our understanding
of it. The greatest shock was perhaps not even the sheer loss of life, which was staggering, but
the evil, hate and fanaticism behind it. To most Americans, the attack was unthinkable. Now
our nation knows better. The terrorists’ capacity for killing is limited only by the power of
their weapons.” Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman. Nuclear Threat Initiative. “Toward a New
Security Framework.” Woodrow Wilson Center, October 3, 2001.
3 Relevant hearings were held in several committees, including the House International
Relations Committee, the House Government Reform Committee, the Senate Governmental
Affairs Committee— Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation And Federal
Services, and the Senate Committee On Appropriations—Subcommittee On Labor, HHS,
Education and Related Agencies.
This report describes the research, development, and production capabilities in
the government-sponsored biological weapons complex in the former Soviet Union.
It provides an overview of U.S. efforts to prevent proliferation from this complex to
other states and sub-state actors. It focuses only on the BW program that was
initiated by the Soviet state and sustained by the Russian state. It does not address
biological weapons capabilities that may exist in former Soviet states outside the
state-sponsored biological weapons complex. Furthermore, the report draws only on
unclassified sources, so it may not present a complete picture of BW capabilities in
former Soviet states or U.S. efforts to prevent their proliferation.
The Soviet/Russian Biological Weapons Program
Reports indicate that Soviet development of biological weapons (BW) dates
back to at least 1928 when the Red Army ordered Soviet scientists to find a way to
deploy typhus as a weapon. The Soviet BW program expanded in the 1930s; there
are strong indications that weapons testing involved some prisoners in Stalin’s labor
camps. As the program further expanded after the war, the primary known site for
BW testing became Vozrozhdeniye Island, which is located in the Aral Sea between
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Negotiations on the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) alerted Soviet
authorities to Western achievements in weaponizing pathogens.5 Soviet authorities
reportedly doubted that other signatories would abandon their development of
biological weapons. At the same time, a prominent Soviet molecular biologist
convinced the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, and other Soviet authorities that
developing genetically altered pathogens and more advanced ways to weaponize them
would give the Soviet Union a strategic advantage in the Cold War.
In 1973, the Soviet Union created Biopreparat to pursue this new direction in
BW development. It was a network of approximately forty “private” biological
research and production centers (BRPCs), and reportedly its work remained hidden
even from many high-ranking Soviet officials. At its peak, Biopreparat and four
military biological institutes reportedly employed approximately 60,000 people.
4For background on the Soviet/Russian Biological Weapons Program see Alibek, Ken, with
S. Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological
Weapons Program in the World–Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It. New York:
Random House, 1998; Mangold, Tom and Jeff Goldberg. Plague Wars: The Terrifying
Reality of Biological Warfare. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999; and Miller, Judith,
Stephen Engleberg, and William Broad. Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret
War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
5 For details on the substance of the BWC see Proliferation Control Regimes: Background
and Status. CRS Report 97-343 F, by Robert D. Shuey, Steve R. Bowman, and Zachary S.
Approximately 9,000 of those were scientists with knowledge that could contribute
to the development and production of biological weapons.6
Soviet BW Capabilities
According to unclassified reports, the Soviet/Russian BW program developed
and produced genetically altered pathogens designed to attack human targets,
agricultural targets, and environmental targets. The BWC classifies BW agents as
bacteria, toxins, viruses, or rickettsaie. The Soviet/Russian program experimented
with all these. The program developed and “weaponized” genetically-altered
bacteriological agents such as anthrax, plague, tularemia, glanders, and brucellosis
that were resistant to heat, cold, and antibiotics.7 They also “weaponized” several
!Smallpox, which can kill 30-40% of an exposed population during an
!Venezuelan Equine Encephalitus, which is unlikely to kill but can incapacitate
!The Marburg virus, which, like the Ebola virus, is a haemorrhagic fever which
destroys cells and causes massive internal bleeding.9
According to some sources, the Soviet/Russian program also developed
“chimera” or “recombinant” weapons, such as a combination of plague bacteria and
the myelin toxin which attacks sheaths protecting nerve fibers.10 Reports indicate that
the Soviet/Russian BW program also developed weapons to attack plants and
animals. The anti-plant diseases targeted corn, wheat, potatoes, tobacco, barley and11
other crops. The anti-animal diseases included Foot-and-Mouth Disease and African
Reports indicate that the Soviet BW program maintained the capacity to produce
and store millions of liters of pathogens. For example, the BW production facility at
Berdsk reportedly housed 40 fermenters that could hold 2,560,000 liters of a
6 Smithson, Amy. Toxic Archipelago: Preventing Proliferation from the Former Soviet
Chemical and Biological Weapons Complexes. Washington, DC: The Henry L. Stimson
Center, 1999, p. 10.
7 Mangold and Goldberg, Plague Wars, p. 93.
8 Ibid, p. 385
9 According to Ken Alibek, one of the Russian weapons scientists died while trying to convert
the Marburg virus to a weapon. The Soviets later weaponized the strain of the virus
harvested from that scientist’s body. See Alibek and Handelman. Biohazard, pp. 123-132,
10 Ibid, pp. 154-155, 163-164,166-167
11 Ban, Jonathan. “Agricultural Biological Warfare: An Overview.” The Chemical and
Biological Arms Control Institute. June, 2000.
“weaponizable” pathogen.12 The Stepnogorsk facility in Kazakhstan had ten twenty-
ton fermenters. These could produce approximately 300 tons of anthrax spores in
The Soviet/Russian BW complex reportedly also succeeded in refining agents
to improve the delivery capacity of biological weapons. One ancient way to deliver
biological weapons is through the use of infected “vectors,” such as bugs, rodents,
or cadavers.14 The Soviet/Russian BW program reportedly developed an
infrastructure that could quickly cultivate millions of parasitic insects to carry disease
or attack plant life.15 Biological weapons can also be delivered through contamination
of food and water supplies. Most experts agree that the most effective way is to
contaminate the air with an aerosolized agent that infects people or animals when they
inhale it. The Soviet/Russian program reportedly developed highly-effective
techniques to aerosolize agents.16 Many sources confirm that the Soviet/Russian BW
program refined delivery systems for biological agents by conducting tests on primates
at Vozrozhdeniye Island.17 The Soviet military reportedly equipped some aircraft and
strategic missiles specifically to carry out biological attacks. One type of airplane had
the capacity to spray biological agents. Another was designed to carry cluster bombs,
with cantaloupe-sized bomblets that could spin and spread disease as they fell from
Revelations about the Soviet/Russian BW Program
In 1979, at least sixty-eight people died when anthrax spores were released from
a Ministry of Defense facility in Sverdlovsk, Russia.18 Although suspicions were
raised from 1979 onward, the United States did not verify that the deaths had been
connected with the Soviet biological weapons program until 1992.19 Some
information became available in 1989, when Vladimir Pasechnik, the former director
of a Biopreparat facility, defected to Great Britain. He revealed that the magnitude
12 Mangold and Goldberg, Plague Wars, p. 198.
13 See Miller et al. Germs, p. 166-167.
14 Zobel, Enrique. “A Matter of Conscience: The real deal about nuclear, biological and
chemical attacks,” Business World. November 14, 2001. p. 4
15 Ban, Jonathan. “Agricultural Biological Warfare: An Overview.” June 2000.
16 Alibek, Ken. Address at a conference entitled “Globalization and Infectious Diseases:
Institutions, Policies, and the Threat of Bioterrorism.” Held at the Johns Hopkins University
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in association with Novartis Corporation,
Washington, DC. November, 16, 2001.
17 Mangold and Goldberg, Plague Wars, pp. 94-95.
18 Alibek and Handelman. Biohazard. pp. 70-86.
19 Miller et al. Germs pp. 79-82, 93-94, 134-135, 143-144, 175, 178, 221. See, also,
Anthrax at Sverdlovsk : U.S. Intelligence on the Deadliest Modern Outbreak National.
Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 61 Edited by Robert A. Wampler and Thomas
S. Blanton November 15, 2001.
and lethality of the Soviet/Russian BW program far exceeded the assessments by U.S.
and British intelligence sources.20
Early in 1992, Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin publicly acknowledged the
existence of an active Russian BW program. He vowed to end the program, but his
efforts were reportedly thwarted by some in his military establishment, who continued
the program. In September of 1992, these military officials represented Russia in
negotiations with the United States and Great Britain that sought to establish an
inspection process to confirm the absence of BW production. Russia initially
consented to U.S. and British inspections at Russian BW facilities, but then refused
to sign the “Trilateral Agreement” unless the United States and Great Britain accepted
reciprocal inspections at private pharmaceutical companies in their countries. Some
in Russia claimed that the United States and Great Britain were violating the BWC.
After inspecting U.S. facilities, Russian inspectors claimed they found evidence of
an American BW program. Yet Russia never gave U.S. and British inspectors access21
to military BRPC’s in Russia.
In 1992, Kanatjan Alibekov, who has changed his name to Ken Alibek, defected
to the United States. He had been second in command in the Soviet/Russian BW
program. In his debriefings with U.S. officials, Alibek confirmed and expanded on
Pasechnik’s revelations. Alibek has frequently testified before Congress about the
Soviet/Russian BW program and about U.S. efforts to mount a defense against
The Threat Posed by the Soviet/Russian BW Program
Many observers believe that the legacy of the Soviet/Russian BW program might
pose a significant threat both to the Russian people and to the security of the United
States. There are several sources for these concerns.23
First, experts fear that the contamination at Vozrozhdeniye Island could pose a
threat to surrounding areas. Experts believe that the ground on the island has
absorbed biological agents scattered during weapons tests. Furthermore, the Aral Sea
is shrinking, and some fear that rodents might soon be able to travel between the
island and the mainland, possibly spreading disease to a population already sickened
by environmental degradation and pollution.24 Natural environments surrounding
20 Obituary of Vladimir Pasechnik. The Times Newspapers, November 21, 2001.
21 Mangold and Goldberg, Plague Wars, 170-176.
22 Although Alibek is frequently cited as a source for information about Russia’s BW
program, some U.S. experts have challenged his assertions. They have focused, specifically
on his claims about Soviet/Russian success with combining Ebola and smallpox, and his
assessment of equipment that was discovered in a BRPC in Kazakhstan. Miller et al. Germs,
p. 220, 226, 292-293.
23 Tucker, Jonathan. “Bioweapons from Russia, Stemming the Flow.” Issues in Science and
Technology Online. Spring 1999.
24 Miller et al. Germs, p. 180-182
many other BRPCs may also be degraded due to widespread environmental pollution
and, possibly, the leakage of some biological weapons agents into the soil.
Second, reports indicate that many BRPCs in former Soviet states are in bad
physical condition. These BRPCs have not been able to maintain advanced biosafety
containment laboratories in the post-Soviet economic environment. Experts fear that
accidental release of pathogens could occur at many of these sites.25 Nevertheless,
some experts believe that, despite the degraded condition of many BRPCs, Russia
could use the remaining expertise and infrastructure to reactivate an offensive
biological weapons program.
Third, many experts believe that biological weapons capabilities in former Soviet
states could be vulnerable to theft or sale.26 There are reports that the mafia and
warring ethnic factions within Russia have tried to obtain biological weapons
capabilities.27 Personnel at BRPCs in former Soviet states are generally poorly paid,
which, some believe, could motivate them to steal and sell dangerous pathogens,
weapons technologies, or instructions related to BW development and production.28
Seed cultures of pathogens might also be smuggled out of the BRPCs.
The United States does not have a complete knowledge of the biological
weapons capabilities in the Soviet/Russian BW complex, and therefore, may not have
vaccines or antibiotics that could provide a defense against infection. U.S. biodefense
efforts have increased since September 11, 2001, but many public health officials
stress that U.S. preparedness for a biological attack is still inadequate. In addition,
according to many experts, biological weapons have several characteristics that could
make them attractive to terrorist groups and hostile nation-states – they can produce
mass casualties and incite panic;29 it could be difficult to trace the perpetrator of a30
biological attack; and they could provide an “asymmetric means” of challenging
“America’s overwhelming conventional and nuclear war-fighting strength.”31
25 U.S. General Accounting Office. “Effort to Reduce Former Soviet Threat Offers Benefits,
Poses New Threat.” GAO/NSIAD-00-138. April 2000.
27 Alibek and Handelman, Biohazard, pp. 176-177; See also, Miller et al. Germs, p. 211
28 Smithson, Toxic Archipelago.
29 “Chemical and biological weapons can produce panic more disastrous than the agents
themselves, and are much easier to develop and conceal.” Barclay, Glen. "Bioweapons are
the most deadly threat." Courier Mail. Nationwide News Pty Limited. November 8, 2001,
30 Alibek and Handelman, Biohazard p. 176.
31 U.S. Senate, Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on International Security,
Proliferation, and Federal Services. Statement of Dr. Anna Johnson-Winegar, Deputy
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense. October 17,
Some sources report that representatives of Iran and Al-Qaeda32 have attempted
to recruit former Soviet scientists with BW expertise. According to George Tenet,
the Director of Central Intelligence, these scientists possess expertise that could33
confer “the advantage of technological surprise” on enemies of the United States.
Furthermore, hostile nations and terrorist groups might offer salaries significantly
higher than the scientists’ current, often very low, incomes.34
According to some observers, this problem might be overstated. Although exact
statistics are not available, the vast majority of Soviet weapons scientists apparently
either remained in former Soviet states or migrated to the United States and Britain.
The desire of remaining Soviet weapons scientists to stay rooted in their home
communities near relatives and friends could make it difficult for proliferating groups
to lure them elsewhere. However, a Carnegie Endowment report on nuclear and
missile scientists, released in April 2001, indicated that although many former
weapons scientists once hoped the economic crisis would pass, now some of them
may migrate because they fear their situation will not improve. Some scientists also
apparently feel that it would be better to be paid to work for a proliferating state or
sub-state group than to become involved in organized crime.35 In addition, BW
scientists could still serve the interest of proliferators without traveling or migrating
if they provided consultation, shared weapons secrets over the internet, or stole a tiny
seed culture of a genetically-altered pathogen and passed it into the hands of
The U.S. Response
Policy Objectives for Nonproliferation Efforts
Since 1995, the United States has gained access to many BRPCs in former
Soviet states and has sought to prevent proliferation of BW capabilities. These efforts
are directed toward several policy objectives, including:
!Increasing transparency at BRPCs that once participated in the Soviet/Russian
!Securing or destroying pathogens and weapons technology so that they are not
sold, stolen, accidentally deployed or leaked, or used to reactivate a biological
weapons program in Russia and/or other former Soviet states;
32 Miller et al. Germs, pp. 205-207, 209-212, 228-229, 280. See, also, “Evidence Indicates
Al Qaeda Had Russian Help Developing Anthrax.” New York. PRNewswire. December 9,
33 Miller et al. Germs, p. 287.
34 Ibid, pp. 205-206
35 Tikhonov, Valentin. Russia’s Nuclear and Missile Complex: the Human Factor in
Nonproliferation. A Report by the Non-proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace. 2001
36 Smithson, Amy. Toxic Archipelago.
!Redirecting biological weapons scientists towards peaceful pursuits and
discouraging them from interacting with terrorist groups or proliferating states;
!Strengthening the United States’ preparedness for biological attack.
Two secondary goals are strengthening the scientific research and development
capability of former Soviet states, and reinforcing “the transition to market-based37
economies responsive to civil needs.” The United States funds and administers
several programs that are designed to meet these objectives; these are summarized on
the Table that appears at the end of this report.
The State Department
The Science Centers. In 1992, the United States, Japan, the European
Union, and Russia established the International Science and Technology Center
(ISTC) “to develop, approve, finance, and monitor science and technology projects
for peaceful purposes” in former Soviet states. The Russian parliament initially
resisted the establishment of the ISTC, but the Center began making grants to nuclear,
chemical, and biological weapons scientists in 1994.38 A similar organization called
the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) was founded in July 1995.
It distributes grants to former weapons scientists in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and
Georgia. The STCU and the ISTC have tax-exempt status and their employees have
diplomatic status. Scientists who receive these grants may continue to pursue their
regular jobs, but these grants seek to provide them with enough income to reduce
their incentive to sell their knowledge to other nations.
In FY2002, the Administration requested and Congress appropriated $37 million
to the ISTC and STCU. When making grants to former Soviet scientists, the ISTC
and STCU seek to prevent the misappropriation of funds. According to the GAO,
“Since 1994, the International Science and Technology Center has directly deposited
grant payments into project participants’ individual bank accounts, which prevents the39
institutes from diverting funds for unauthorized purposes.” In addition, both centers
have the right, the responsibility, and the power to audit the grants they make.40
The Science Centers provide a framework for various agencies in the United
States government to engage in collaborative research with former weapons scientists.
The Department of State serves as the lead agency. As is noted below, the
Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Energy, and Defense all
fund projects through the ISTC and STCU to engage Russia’s biological weapons
37 Department of Defense. Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Biological Weapons
38 Smithson, Amy, Toxic Archipelago pp. 22-46. For a detailed account of the establishment
and functioning of the ISTC, see Schweitzer, Glenn E. Moscow DMZ : the Story of the
International Effort to Convert Russian Weapons Science to Peaceful Purposes. Armonk,
N.Y. : M. E. Sharpe. 1996.
40 Amy Smithson. Toxic Archipelago, pp. 32-33.
scientists. The Environmental Protection Agency is also developing some
collaborative research proposals.
Private companies, universities and other private organizations help develop
Science Center projects into sustainable, commercially competitive enterprises. The
ISTC Partner Program facilitates collaboration between private organizations and
BRPCs in former Soviet states, and provides private organizations with the same
advantages, such as tax-exempt status and auditing capabilities, that it provides U.S.
government agencies. According to the State Department, this program has
contributed over $20 million annually to the ISTC and STCU.41
Science Center projects also include scientists in former Soviet states who did
not participate in the Soviet/Russian BW program. According to the U.S.
participants, incorporating non-weapons scientists promotes the goal of integrating
former weapons scientists into the mainstream scientific community.42
Redirection of Biotechnical Scientists Program. Congress has
appropriated funding for the Redirection of Biotechnical Scientists Program through
the State Department, under the Freedom Support Act (P.L. 102-511). The
Administration has requested $20 million for this program for FY2003. In prior
years, funding for the program was in the State Department’s Newly Independent
States (NIS) Account. Beginning in FY2003, funding will be in the Non-proliferation,
Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Activities (NADR) Account. The State
Department allocates this funding among programs in the Departments of Agriculture,
Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Department of Agriculture. In 1998, the Agricultural Research Service
(ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) became involved in
the Redirection of Biotechnical Scientists Program by launching the ARS-Former
Soviet Union Scientific Cooperation Program. ARS scientists collaborate with former
BW scientists who have expertise in animal and plant diseases. This program is
!Establish collaborative, mutually beneficial research;
!Maintain substantial contact between FSU and ARS scientists through
!Optimize collaboration at the scientist level and share success between both43
41 Statement of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Vann Van Diepen before the Senate,
Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation,
Federal Services. Hearing on the Nonproliferation Assistance Coordination Act. November
42 HHS briefing for the National Research Council’s Committee on Assessing Research
Proposals and Projects of Russian Biology Institutes.
43 USDA briefing for the National Research Council’s Committee on Assessing Research
Proposals and Projects of Russian Biology Institutes.
As of December 2001, ARS had nine on-going projects in Russia and four on-
going projects in Kazakhstan. The program’s U.S. participants were also developing
new projects with institutes in these two nations. Twenty-three proposals were under
review involving four former BW institutes in Uzbekistan. The ARS-Former Soviet
Union Scientific Cooperation Program received $550,000 for FY1998, $2 million for
FY1999, $6.98 million for FY2000, $6 million for FY2001 and expects $5 million in
Department of Health and Human Services. At the request of the State
Department and Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) established the Biotechnology Engagement Program (BTEP) in
March 1999. The program focuses on biodefense research and high-priority public
health problems in former Soviet states. Experts argue that this program can benefit
the United States because some Soviet/Russian innovations, such as aerosolized44
vaccines for mass immunization, might strengthen U.S. preparedness for a biological
attack.45 American scientists who participate in BTEP projects come from the U.S.
Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), U.S. academic
institutions, and HHS agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA).46 As of November 2001, BTEP had completed two projects,
had nine ongoing projects, sixteen projects in the final stages of authorization, and an
additional twenty-nine proposals under review. Plans for FY2002 include
development and implementation of the Applied Epidemiology Training Program and
developing a “grantsmanship” training program for researchers in former Soviet47
states. The Biotechnology Engagement Program (BTEP) received $4.8 million for
FY1999, with a 50% restriction on funding to Russia, $11 million in FY2000, $10
million in FY2001 and $9 million in FY2002. The budget includes a request for $10
million for FY2003.
Environmental Protection Agency. The Environmental Protection Agency
is also becoming involved in collaborative research with former BW scientists; these
projects are exploring the environmental effects of BW. It received $1.02 million for
its involvement in the Redirection of Biotechnical Scientists Program in FY2001. It
has allocated approximately $1 million to specific projects, but has not yet notified
Congress of these obligations.
Department of Energy
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP)
Program unites scientists from the ten U.S. National Laboratories with industry
partners and former nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons scientists in former
44 Miller et al. Germs, p. 180.
45 McMurray, Jeffrey. “Nunn: USSR Weapon-Makers May Help.” Associated Press.
October 25, 2001.
46HHS briefing for the National Research Council’s Committee on Assessing Research
Proposals and Projects of Russian Biology Institutes.
47 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. BTEP Annual Report, FY2001.
Soviet states.48 Some IPP programs are funded through the ISTC, others are not.49
IPP seeks to redirect underemployed and unemployed former Soviet weapons
scientists to commercial ventures by involving them in market-driven collaboration
with U.S. labs and industry partners. The involvement of industry partners makes IPP
collaborative research projects different from those sponsored by HHS, the EPA, and
the USDA. In FY2002, Congress appropriated $54 million ($39 million in the Energy
and Water Appropriations Bill and $15 million in the Emergency Supplemental
Appropriations Bill), for the Russian Transition Initiative, a program that combines
IPP with DOE’s Nuclear Cities Initiative. In recent years, roughly 20% of IPP
funding has gone towards the BW engagement effort,50 which is relatively new
compared to the IPP nuclear effort. As of November 2000 according to DOE, the
IPP Program had “engaged 20 biological institutes and almost 600 scientists,
approved more than 55 projects, and allocated over $12 million for collaboration with
former biological weapons facilities."51 DOE hopes that several IPP biological
projects might bring their results to market in the near future.
Department of Defense
The Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction
Program (CTR) includes the Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Program
(BWPP). The Administration requested, and Congress appropriated, $17 million for
this effort in FY2002. It has three major components: biosecurity and biosafety
enhancements, collaborative research, and facilities and equipment dismantlement.
Biosafety and Biosecurity Enhancement Projects seek to ensure the secure and
safe storage and handling of biological pathogens at biological research centers.52
They seek to counter both potential outside and inside actors who might steal or sell
BW capabilities. These projects also seek to establish a dialogue between U.S. and
former Soviet scientists to allow for the identification of facilities and equipment that
could be dismantled. There are currently at least six DOD biosafety and biosecurity
projects, with six more in the planning stages. The ongoing projects will institute
integrated systems to consolidate, store, secure, and account for pathogens. The
projects will also develop and implement programs that restrict personnel access and
hold personnel accountable for their activities inside the facilities. DTRA explicitly
avoids “state of the art” systems and instead institutes standard, industry-proven
48 U.S. Department of Energy. Budget Request for FY 2000; Hearing before the U.S. House
of Representatives Committee on National Security Subcommittee on Military Procurement,
March 4, 1999. See also, Chase, Marilyn. “Turning Swords into Plowshares,” Wall Street
Journal. P. B1. November 20, 2001.
49 When IPP projects are funded outside the framework of the ISTC or STCU, a tax-exempt
organization serves as a contractor to DOE and deposits grant money in the accounts of
individual scientists in the same way the Science Centers do.
50 Interview with IPP official.
51 “Energy Department’s Idaho Lab Teams with Russia to Establish Ecological Biotrade
Center.” DOE Press Release No. R-00-287. November 14, 2000.
52 Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Cooperative Threat Reduction Projects in Russia.
systems.53 DOD funds and implements the BioSafety and BioSecurity Enhancement
projects through the ISTC and STCU. Costs for completed BioSafety and
BioSecurity Enhancement projects are expected to range from $5 million for a small54
BRPC to $15 million for a large BRPC.
The Collaborative Research Program is designed to “prevent the proliferation of
BW technologies, increase transparency, and enhance US force protection capabilities55
through research projects with former BW scientists at the BRPCs.” Through 2000,
DOD had funded projects that “employed more than 350 former biological weapons
scientists from seven institutes in bio-defense and public health projects of interest to
the United States.”56 The BWPP collaborative research program has significantly
expanded since then. On average, the total cost of a BWPP Collaborative Research
Project is approximately $700,000, inclusive of project management costs, logistical
costs, compensation of U.S. participants, and all other costs.
The BWPP Dismantlement Projects are designed to complicate reconstitution
of a BW program and prevent proliferation of BW technology by eliminating
infrastructure and equipment at biological research and production centers. The first
major dismantlement project occurred at Stepnogorsk, the massive BRPC in
Kazakhstan. The program is dismantling the entire facility. The project is currently
in its final phase, with the total cost projected to be $10 million. Future
dismantlement projects at other BRPCs will eliminate BW equipment, enable BRPCs
to lower operational costs by consolidating their operations in fewer structures, and
prepare the BRPCs for collaboration with U.S. industry partners. The United States
has also agreed to try to eliminate anthrax and destroy other residual biological
agents, as well as the BW infrastructure, remaining on Vozrozhdeniye Island, the
Soviet BW testing site in the Aral Sea.
Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce indirectly supports interagency BW
nonproliferation efforts through its Special American Business Internship Training
(SABIT) program. The SABIT program was instituted in 1990 to support economic
restructuring in former Soviet states, and it funds short-term training at U.S.
companies for specialists from former Soviet states. SABIT also offers courses in
Russia that provide participating groups with an assessment of their prospects for
product commercialization and market success. The Department of Commerce also
provides BISNIS, the Business Information Service for the Newly Independent
53 Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention project
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
The United States Industry Coalition (USIC), a non-profit association of U.S.
companies and universities, works to facilitate industry involvement in U.S.
nonproliferation efforts in former Soviet states by serving as an advocate for their
interests.57 For example, USIC strives to ensure the Intellectual Property Rights of
its member organizations. Universities and companies involved in IPP programs are
required to be members of the USIC.
The Civilian Research and Development Foundation for the Independent States
of the Former Soviet Union (CRDF), is a non-profit organization created by the
United States in 1995 to facilitate mutually-beneficial scientific and technical
collaboration between the United States and former Soviet states. The CRDF is
funded through government contracts and several private foundations to provide
services such as the administration of grants, organization of meetings, and merit-
based technical review of proposals. Through its Partner Program, the CRDF
matches U.S. companies with scientists and engineers in former Soviet states who
have skills the companies need. The CRDF operates a Collaborative Research
Program entirely devoted to nonproliferation of BW capabilities from former Soviet
states; this program primarily supports the Collaborative Research component of
DOD’s Biological Weapons Proliferation Program.
The National Academies have actively supported U.S. efforts to prevent
proliferation of BW capabilities by providing advice on matters related to science and
technology. For example, the Committee on Assessing Research Proposals and
Projects of Russian Biology Institutes and the Committee on Dual-Use Technologies,
Export Control, and Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting are involved in
U.S. nonproliferation efforts. Many think tanks and nonprofit organizations also
provide grant money, outreach and education programs, and expertise in support of
U.S. government efforts to prevent proliferation of BW capabilities from former
The U.S. effort to prevent proliferation from the former Soviet biological
weapons complex is similar, in many respects, to its effort to prevent proliferation
from the nuclear weapons complex. In both cases, the weapons complex suffers from58
degraded security systems that remain from the Soviet era, the degradation of the
physical plant at the facilities, a lack of income for weapons scientists, reported
struggles between hard-liners and reformers in former Soviet states, and the presumed
desire of terrorists and hostile nation-states to obtain the weapons capabilities
57 USIC’s revenues from government contracts were $737,987 in FY2000 and $925,077 in
FY2001. See USIC Annual Report 2000-2001. See also, U.S. Department of Energy.
“Department of Energy Announces Consumer and Environmental Projects With Former
Soviet Biological Weapons Scientists & U.S. Industry Partners.” July 24, 2000.
58 Kitfield, James. "Nuclear Nightmares." The National Journal. December 14, 2001.
remaining in both complexes. However, there are significant differences between the
biological weapons and nuclear weapons complexes and these differences give rise to
significant differences in U.S. nonproliferation programs.
Absence of U.S. Biological Weapons Complex
One key difference between the nuclear and biological nonproliferation programs
is the lack of a U.S. equivalent to the former Soviet biological weapons complex. The
U.S. BW program closed during the Nixon administration. Whereas scientists in the
U.S. nuclear weapons complex were logical counterparts for former Soviet nuclear
scientists, it has taken time to identify and recruit suitable American counterparts for
BW scientists. Furthermore, whereas a sophisticated understanding of nuclear
weapons technology was readily available to guide U.S. efforts to prevent
proliferation of nuclear weapons from former Soviet states, U.S. understanding of
biological weapons technology was more limited. Through BW nonproliferation
efforts in former Soviet states the U.S. has been learning about Soviet/Russian BW
technology and many observers believe that this knowledge has enhanced U.S.
When addressing concerns with Russia’s nuclear weapons facilities and weapons
complex, the United States could work almost exclusively with Russia’s Ministry of
Defense or Ministry of Atomic Affairs (MINATOM). In contrast, many agencies in
the Soviet government shared jurisdiction over the Soviet biological weapons
complex. In Russia today the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Industry, Science and
Technology, Defense, and other agencies claim jurisdiction over various aspects of
the BW complex. In some cases, the United States can develop projects with
individual BRPCs and individual scientists at the grass-roots level, without interacting
with any Russian government agency. However, mixed jurisdiction can complicate
efforts to dismantle facilities or destroy weapons technology. The United States must
negotiate an implementing agreement with the government agencies that own and
control specific facilities and technology before it can act directly to dismantle or
destroy property. This process is difficult to complete when more than one agency
claims jurisdiction.59 Therefore, biosafety, biosecurity, and dismantlement projects at
BRPCs are funded indirectly, through the ISTC. Some argue that this is an inefficient
mechanism for managing these kind of projects.
Most of the technology required for development and production of nuclear
weapons is unique to the weapons complex. But the technology associated with
biological weapons is also used in medical research, pharmaceutical production, and
public health work. Therefore, according to some, if the United States helps fund
non-military research using biological technologies, it might risk unintentionally
subsidizing a BW program.
59 Mixed jurisdiction is not an issue in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan, where the United States has
negotiated implementing agreements directly with the governments of those states.
Several factors might mitigate the risk posed by the “dual-use” nature of
biological weapons technology. First, before beginning cooperative projects with the
United States, BRPCs must provide assurance “that they will abstain from offensive60
research or proliferation activities.” Second, ISTC/STCU personnel audit most
projects. Third, U.S. agencies require U.S. participants to make on-site visits to
BRPCs to ensure that the projects are meeting their stated objectives. In addition, the
National Security Council has mandated that all U.S. projects involving former
Soviet/Russian BRPCs must be reviewed by the Nonproliferation Interagency
Coordination of Interagency Efforts
According to government officials, the Proliferation Strategy Policy
Coordinating Committee, or PCC, which is chaired by a National Security Council
senior director, provides the interagency oversight and policy implementation of all
U.S. nonproliferation assistance to the states of the former Soviet Union. This
committee has representatives from State, Defense, Energy and other concerned
agencies. This committee has several working groups, or subcommittees, that are
designed to ensure day-to-day coordination among programs in different agencies.
Within this structure, the Nonproliferation Interagency Roundtable (NPIR) reports
to the Proliferation Strategy sub-PCC on Bio/Chem Proliferation.
For the past four years, the NPIR has sought to coordinate all U.S. government
efforts to prevent BW proliferation from former Soviet states. The Roundtable is
chaired by a representative of the State Department and comprised of representatives
of various agencies; it reports directly to the National Security Council. The
Roundtable helps the various agencies prevent duplication of efforts and seeks to
ensure that, together, they address the appropriate priorities. At monthly meetings,
members discuss and coordinate implementation issues, such as travel to the FSU or
guests arriving from the FSU. When reviewing proposals for collaborative research
projects, the Roundtable can reject or mandate revisions in proposals for projects that
might reinforce or extend BW capabilities.61
The Nonproliferation Interagency Roundtable is adjusting its procedures to keep
up with the increasing number of projects. It plans to develop a comprehensive
database to facilitate systematic coordination and monitoring of projects.62
Measuring the Results
In April 2000 the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that collaborative
research projects involving former BW scientists had “helped to discourage scientists
from cooperating with countries of proliferation concern and terrorist groups, while
61 Correspondence with a State Department official.
62 Interview with a State Department official.
promoting openness at more than 30 former Soviet biological weapons institutes.”63
GAO also reported that about 1,655 former employees of the Soviet/Russian BW
program received funding through the ISTC in 1999. Since that time, U.S. biological
nonproliferation efforts have expanded as confidence in their effectiveness has grown.
Furthermore, these cooperative projects provide the United States with continuous
working-level access to Russia’s BW sites. Some U.S. participants state that this
cooperation allows for better verification than 2-day inspection visits because64
cooperation involves long-term, routine interaction.
Some observers contend that the United States benefits from these efforts in
other ways besides nonproliferation. The research can also address non-weapons
related concerns. For example, using a strain of brucellosis from their collection of
pathogens, former Soviet weapons scientists are prepared to help the United States
produce a more effective vaccine for bison in Yellowstone park.65
As of March 2002, more than 40 BRPCs throughout the former Soviet Union
have engaged in cooperative projects with the United States. These projects have
helped the United States assess the extent to which these facilities were involved in
the development and production of biological weapons capabilities. According to
State Department officials, approximately 30 of these were deeply involved in the
Soviet/Russian biological weapons program, and therefore, are considered to pose a
significant risk for contributing to proliferation. The others were less integrated into
the Soviet/Russian BW complex and, therefore, pose less of a proliferation risk.
Some known BRPCs do not participate in U.S. programs; others, such as the
State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology (“Vector”) in Novosibirsk,
Russia, and the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology (SRCAM) in
Obolensk, participate in multiple projects. The Russian Ministry of Defense has
denied the United States access to four BRPCs under its jurisdiction.66 Furthermore,
as cooperation has expanded, the United States has discovered additional BRPCs that
once participated in the Soviet/Russian BW programs.
Some view the interpersonal relationships built between U.S. participants in
these efforts and former Soviet weapons scientists as a significant part of these efforts.
In addition to cooperating on projects, U.S. participants and their counterparts in
former Soviet states share meals, get to know one another’s families, and spend
leisure time together. Furthermore, some argue that contact with U.S. companies,
NGOs, and government agencies has decreased the social and institutional isolation
64 For descriptions of ways in which Russian hosts have tried to conceal BW capabilities from
U.S. inspectors see Mangold and Goldberg, Plague Wars. pp. 62-140.. See also, Alibek and
Handelman, Biohazard, pp. 137-224
65 "Former Soviet Union weapons scientists may help solve brucellosis," Associated Press.
October 8, 2001.
66They are the Institute of Virology at Sergeyev Posad (formerly Zagorsk), the Center for
Military Technical Problems of Biodefense in Ekaterinaburg (formerly Sverdlovsk), the Kirov
Institute of Microbiology in Kirov, and the Kirov-200 Institute in Strizhi.
of Russia’s biological weapons scientists. Several people involved in work with
former BW institutes and scientists have expressed the view that these interpersonal
and institutional relationships are profoundly affecting the decisions weapons67
scientists are making about how to use their expertise.
Issues for Congress
The Security Assistance Act of 2001
The Security Assistance Act of 2001 (S.1803) has several sections that are
relevant to U.S. policy regarding BW capabilities in former Soviet states.68 The
following discussion is based on Senate action, only. Section 304, entitled
“International Nonproliferation Export Control Training,” gives the President
authority to provide education and training to foreign personnel to enhance their
ability to implement export controls that might contribute to nonproliferation
activities. Section 305 extends the Soviet Scientists Immigration Act of 1992 and
increases the number of scientists that can be relocated under that act from 750 to
950. Some people advocate inviting former weapons scientists to come to the United
States to work, as a way of preventing proliferation of weapons expertise. They
argue that the U.S. economy and U.S. biodefense efforts would benefit from the
expertise of these scientists. Some who oppose this approach argue that it would cost
less money to employ a scientist in a former Soviet state than in the United State
Some also argue that it is in the U.S. national interest to invest in the science and
technology sector of former Soviet states and support their transitions to market
The Russian Federation Debt Reduction for Nonproliferation Act.
Subtitle B of the Security Assistance Act of 2001, the Russian Federation Debt
Reduction for Nonproliferation Act of 2001, is designed to encourage Russia to
increase its own budget allocations for nonproliferation programs. Russia and other
former Soviet states have supported BW nonproliferation efforts in the past by
providing infrastructure, staff, and funding to organizations such as the ISTC and
STCU. They also contribute to cooperative projects by providing funding or in-kind
resources, such as equipment and utilities, to the BRPCs. On the other hand, many
experts believe that Russia and the other former Soviet states have sometimes pursued
activities that are inconsistent with U.S. nonproliferation goals. For example, a recent
CIA report charged that, “During the first half of 2001, Russian entities remained a
significant source of dual-use biotechnology, chemicals, production technology, and69
equipment for Iran.”
67 Interview with a U.S. contractor and with several officials of U.S. government agencies.
68 The Senate passed S1803 by a voice vote on December 20, 2001, and the bill was referred
to the House Committee on International Relations as of January 23, 2002.
69 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of
Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional
Munitions: 1 January Through 30 June 2001, January 2002. The Russian Foreign Ministry
The Russian Federation Debt Reduction for Nonproliferation Act grants the
President the authority to reduce Russia’s Soviet era debt to the United States,
through a variety of mechanisms, if Russia uses the funds that would have been
applied to debt service for projects designed to reduce the risk of proliferation from
Russia’s nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons complexes. In a further effort to
shape Russia’s policies on nonproliferation, the legislation states that the President
cannot implement the “debt for nonproliferation swap” until Russia makes “material
progress in stemming the flow of sensitive goods, technologies, material, and know-
how related to the design, development, and production of weapons of mass
destruction and the means to deliver them to countries that have been determined ...
to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
Supporters of this legislation argue that Russia’s debt creates such a burden to
the state that Russia would be unlikely or unable to devote its own funds to
nonproliferation projects while servicing its debt. Furthermore, they argue that this
legislation might provide Russia with an incentive to place a higher priority on
nonproliferation because it could expect relief from some of its debt. Others, however,
note that the United States does not hold much of Russia’s debt, so any effort to link
nonproliferation with debt relief would have to win the support of other nations, such
as Germany, who hold a larger portion of the debt.
The Non-Proliferation Assistance Coordination Act of 2001. The
Non-Proliferation Assistance Coordination Act of 2001 was introduced in late 2001
and incorporated into the Security Assistance Act of 2001 as Subtitle C. It seeks to
address congressional concerns about interagency coordination of all U.S.
nonproliferation efforts in the former Soviet States. It establishes an interagency
committee that will monitor U.S. nonproliferation efforts in the former Soviet Union
and coordinate U.S. policy with respect to the implementation of those efforts.
When considering this legislation the International Security, Proliferation, and
Federal Services Subcommittee of the Senate Government Affairs Committee heard
testimony on November 14, 2001, that emphasized the potential benefits of improved
coordination of nuclear nonproliferation programs, in general. In contrast, some
experts stated that interagency efforts to prevent proliferation of biological weapons
were “well-coordinated.”70 Although few experts have focused on the implementation
of the biological weapons programs, most who do tend to agree with this assessment.
The General Accounting Office reviewed the programs in 2000, and the Bush
disputed the charge stating that "Russia strictly meets its international obligations to control
the export of sensitive trade and technology." Bellaby, Mara D. “Russia Rips CIA Report
on Technology.” Associated Press. February 7, 2002.
70 Leonard Spector emphasized the need for greater interagency coordination of
nonproliferation programs in general. However, speaking of bio weapons he said, “Through
a well-coordinated interagency program to create non-defense employment opportunities for
former Soviet BW scientists, the Clinton administration successfully engaged a number of
former Soviet BW sites in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.” Senate Committee on
Government Affairs. November 14, 2001.
administration reviewed them in 2001 and neither identified coordination among them
as a problem.
Congress and the Bush administration have demonstrated continued and growing
support for U.S. efforts to prevent proliferation of biological weapons from former
Soviet states. Upon completing a detailed review of U.S. nonproliferation and threat
reduction assistance to Russia and the other former Soviet states, the Bush
administration identified the “Redirection of Biotechnical Scientists Program” as one71
of four programs to be expanded. In the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2002, Congress approved the President’s request for $17 million for
DOD’s efforts in biological weapons proliferation prevention in Russia.72 In the
emergency supplemental appropriations bill passed after the September 11 attacks,
Congress added another $30 million “ for the purpose of supporting expansion of the
Biological Weapons Redirect and International Science and Technology Centers
programs, to prevent former Soviet biological weapons experts from emigrating to
proliferant states and to reconfigure former Soviet biological weapons production73
facilities for peaceful uses." Furthermore, in its 2000 report on the BW
nonproliferation programs, published before the anthrax attacks of October 2001, the
GAO estimated that the United States would spend around $220 million on BW
nonproliferation between 2000 and 2004. Most experts agree that this amount may
increase now that attention has focused more sharply on the threat of biological
weapons proliferation from Russia.
Some experts argue that the United States should increase its efforts to stem
proliferation from the former Soviet Union. In January 2001 a panel headed by Lloyd
Cutler and former Senator Howard Baker found that, “Current nonproliferation
programs in the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and related
agencies have achieved impressive results thus far, but their limited mandate and74
funding fall short of what is required to address adequately the threat.” Some also
point out that opportunities to redirect former BW scientists, to secure dangerous
pathogens, and to dismantle BW equipment continue to arise as U.S. access to the
former Soviet/Russian BW complex expands. Furthermore, according to several U.S.
government officials, recent increases in funding for existing programs, while
welcome, has been surpassed by an increasing number of viable project proposals.
71 White House Fact Sheet, December 27, 2001.
74 Risen, James. “Nuclear Items Sold by Russia To Iran Pose An Obstacle." New York
Times. January 11, 2001.
Alternatives for the Future
U.S. assistance to Russia’s BW program has sought to support the
transformation of the Soviet/Russian BW complex into a set of consolidated, safe,
secure, and essentially transparent institutions. Many experts continue to support this
objective, but now believe that it will take a long-term investment rather than a short-
term crisis intervention.75 The number of BRPCs known to have been part of the
Soviet/Russian BW infrastructure continues to increase. Furthermore, U.S. experts
are debating the best long-term strategies for preventing BW proliferation from
former Soviet states. Many American participants in U.S. BW nonproliferation
efforts consider that long-term nonproliferation goals might be achieved without
sustaining U.S.-funded biosecurity and collaborative research projects for the
remaining lifetimes of former BW scientists. But some also contend that premature
disengagement from BRPCs that continue to pose a proliferation risk is not
In recent months, U.S. government agencies and NGOs involved in these efforts
have intensified their focus on moving BRPCs towards consolidation and self-
sustainability, which many believe is the best way to maximize the nonproliferation
benefits that can be achieved by U.S. efforts. Some overall approaches include
drawing a new generation of scientists into the BRPCs and preparing BRPCs for
external investment. Experts argue that a separate strategy for disengagement will
have to be developed for each BRPC, because each one poses unique problems which
require unique solutions.
Some analysts argue that the United States should not help the BRPCs become
self-sustaining organizations. They argue that market forces will eliminate the BRPCs
in former Soviet states because they cannot compete with other biotechnical research
and production centers throughout the world. Others, however, counter that without
international intervention, market forces might unite former weapons scientists with
proliferating states and sub-state groups. Some observers consider the biological
weapons complex in former Soviet states to be too isolated and underfunded to safely
dismantle itself without U.S. investment. Such observers contend that the goal is not
so much to make the BRPCs competitive with other BRPCs throughout the world as
it is for the United States to successfully compete with proliferating groups and nation
states for the BW capabilities that exist at these BRPCs.
75 "It became clear that any meaningful result required a more extended and creative kind of
engagement . . . " Civilian Research and Development Foundation. CRDF 1998-2000
Program Report. p. 2.
Table 1. U.S. Programs to Assist Russia with Biological
AgencyProgram Program Objective
Department ofCooperative ThreatEngage BW scientists through cooperative
DefenseReduction Program,biodefense research; improve biosafety at
Biological WeaponsRussian BW facilities to prevent pathogen
Proliferationrelease; improve security at Russian BW
Prevention (BWPP)facilities by consolidating and restricting
access to pathogens; eliminate BW
infrastructure and equipment.
Department ofInitiatives forRedirect BW scientists through
EnergyProliferationcollaborative research; incorporate
Preventionindustry partners to identify market-driven
projects that might produce commercial
products and results
Department ofInternational ScienceProvides grant funding to redirect BW
StateCenters Programscientists to non-military research;
(ISTC/STCU)provides support for the development,
management, and auditing of projects
sponsored by other U.S. agencies
Department ofAgricultural ResearchRedirect BW scientists through
AgricultureService (ARS)-collaborative research on diseases that
Former Soviet Unionmight affect plants and animals
Department ofBiotechnologyRedirect BW scientists through
Health andEngagement Program collaborative research on public health
EnvironmentalRedirect BW scientists through
Protectioncollaborative research on environmental
Agencydamage caused by biological weapons
Department ofSpecial AmericanFacilitate business training and exchanges
Service for the Newly
ARSAgricultural Research Service of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
BRPCBiological Research and Production Center
BTEPBiotechnology Engagement Program of the Dept. of Health and
BWCBiological Weapons Convention
BWPPBiological Weapons Proliferation Prevention program
CDCCenters for Disease Control and Prevention
CRDFCivilian Research and Development Foundation
CTRCooperative Threat Reduction
DHHSDepartment of Health and Human Services
DODDepartment of Defense
DOEDepartment of Energy
DTRADefense Threat Reduction Agency
EPAEnvironmental Protection Agency
FDAFood and Drug Administration
FSAFreedom Support Act
FSUFormer Soviet Union
GAOGeneral Accounting Office
IPPInitiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program of the Dept. of Energy
ISTCInternational Science and Technology Center
MINATOMRussia’s Ministry of Atomic Affairs, similar to the U.S. Department
NADRNon-proliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Activities
NIHNational Institutes of Health
NISNewly Independent States
NPIRNon-proliferation Interagency Roundtable
OSDOffice of the Secretary of Defense
SABIT Special American Business Internship Training
SRCAMThe State Research Center for Applied Microbiology in Obolensk,
STCUScience and Technology Center in Ukraine
USAMRIIDUnited States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
USDAUnited States Department of Agriculture
USICUnited States Industry Coalition
VectorThe State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology in
WMDWeapons of Mass Destruction