Secrecy News

Congressional Resources on Arms Control

Noteworthy new Congressional publications on arms control-related topics include the following.

“North Korea and Its Nuclear Program — A Reality Check” (pdf), Report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, October 2008.

“International Convention for Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism,” Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, September 11, 2008.

“Technologies to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction,” hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 12, 2008.

0 thoughts on “Congressional Resources on Arms Control

  1. Here’s a bit of a cryptic statement from the head of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency:

    “The first thing is you are probably aware of the fact that
    very important research is being done on the part of the Nunn-
    Lugar program. It is creating a series of central research
    laboratories in Central Asia, where they are collecting rare
    pathogens, centralizing them, and categorizing them. Those
    pathogens are challenging us to develop therapeutics that
    respond to those pathogens should an entity be able to isolate
    them and create a biological weapon from a rare species.”

    It comes from the testimony you posted here.

    Central Asia? That’s a big space. Where are the labs, how big are they, and what precisely are they doing?

    Well, it’s not clear here nor has it been clear in the public record. However, these does appear to be disbursement of contracts to American security companies for non-specific purposes related to them.

    For example, see here for mention of a $158 million contract from the DTRA to US contractor Black & Veatch for counter-bioterrorism at a facility or facilities in the Ukraine. Although not mentioned in the story, Black & Veatch subsequently portioned out a piece of the contract to another contractor named SRI.

    I’m a pro and I have difficulty following the threads of what taxpayer money is funding in the name of bioterror threat reduction in Central Asia.

    In 2007, the GAO reported their was a lack of federal oversight of domestic biodefense laboratories, something again addressed in the Graham/Talent commission’s report on WMD today. (See here for a news piece on GAO concerns. I know the report is here but I couldn’t immediately return a link.)

    In any case, under discussion here are an unspecificed number of labs in Central Asia.

    The question arises: If oversight of domestic biodefense labs isn’t what it ought to be, how does one oversee biodefense labs started up through the US government overseas? And why is the work being done in Central Asia? Presumably, the Centers for Disease Control and other public health agencies worldwide must have immediate access to emerging disease organisms for the public good. What is the scope and justification of another layer of biodefense laboratories in foreign countries where even Congressmen would probably have a hard time just up and visiting them?

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