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US owes world explanation for large number of overseas bio-labs

Dunya News

US owes world explanation for large number of overseas bio-labs

(Reuters) - The U.S. overseas bio-labs have raised mounting concerns in the international community due to potential hazard for local people’s lives and health.

The United States’ intensive deployment of biological laboratories in neighboring countries of China and Russia and its reluctance to disclose the contents of biological experiments raise questions about its behavior and purpose, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a video press conference recently.

According to the official information released by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. has established a total of 15 biological laboratories surrounding Russia and China. However, according to Russian officials, the U.S. has a vast network of secret biological laboratories in 27 countries in and around the former Soviet Union.

It has been confirmed that the U.S. has 15 biological laboratories in Ukraine alone. The U.S. also has a research network in Georgia with three laboratories and eleven small research institutes.

The U.S. now has more than 200 biological laboratories around the world, according to Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia.

The U.S. overseas biological laboratories conducted research on dangerous pathogens transmitted by insects, human genes studies and biodiversity research with military purposes, according to investigations of Russian media.

Infectious diseases such as measles broke out in some places where the laboratories are located.

In April, Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said that the U.S. Department of Defense was using the fight against "bioterrorism" as a pretext to build dual-purpose biological laboratories around Russia, with the aim of strengthening its biological influence outside the country.

Military purposes cannot be ruled out when the U.S. established the laboratories in third countries to research and develop pathogens of various dangerous diseases, according to the spokeswoman.

She cited a visit by U.S. Department of Defense officials to the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research invested by the U.S. on the outskirts of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to ask for permission to expand the scope of the research.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly questioned the U.S. about the purpose of collecting blood and RNA samples from white Russians.

As early as the end of 2018, Igor Giorgadze, former Minister of State Security of Georgia, told the media that the U.S. had conducted human tests at biological laboratories in Georgia and provided several reports on the data.

According to media reports, overseas laboratories are under the full control of the U.S. and are used to study diseases that are dangerous to certain populations. Many research projects that are banned in the U.S are conducted in overseas laboratories.

Cao weidong, a Chinese military expert, pointed out that because the research of these U.S. overseas biological laboratories is confidential, other countries have to question whether these U.S. biological laboratories have virus research or not. It remains unknown whether it will endanger the surrounding countries or human health.

There is a strong demand from local people to close the laboratories.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the U.S. has set up a number of biological laboratories in some former Soviet republics, but has kept mum about their functions, uses and safety, which has deeply worried the local people and neighboring countries.

According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the P3 laboratories in the U.S., known as grade three bio-security laboratories, have experienced 400 accidents in the past ten years. The safety of biological laboratories is the biggest risk facing U.S. regulators.

In July 2019, for example, the Fort Detrick biological base in Maryland, the largest research center for biochemical weapons in the U.S., was investigated and closed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing a failure of the army laboratory to "implement and maintain containment procedures sufficient to contain select agents or toxins."

Documents also show that in the first half of 2014, three accidents occurred in a short period of time at U.S. governmental laboratories, which attracted the attention of the international community.

One accident was that anthrax bacteria was not successfully inactivated in a lab, causing potential exposure of dozens of people. The other accident was a low-pathogenicity influenza virus mixed with a highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. The third one was a 60-year-old smallpox virus found in a storage room when a laboratory was preparing to move.

Due to a series of accidents, in October 2014, the U.S. suspended a number of virus modification projects, including bird flu virus modification experiments, which could engineer the H5N1 bird flu virus to spread more easily among mammals and thus pose a risk of human-to-human transmission.

However, according to the website of the U.S. journal Science, in February 2019, the U.S. government agencies had quietly approved the controversial modification of the bird flu virus, which is expected to resume soon after being banned for years.