At the height of apartheid in South Africa there was one Dr Wouter Basson who headed the State’s biological weapons programme aimed particularly at the majority and oppressed African people. So horrendous were stories around this programme that claims were made that it sought to sterilise African women so their child-birth capability would cease. This is the closest, I believe, South Africa has come to multiple threats posed by biological weapons.
This part of our heinous past was brought back to mind recently when I encountered the story of one Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, a courageous Bulgarian investigative journalist, who penned many articles on the smuggling of weapons to ISIS in Syria. In one of the investigative articles she published in her newspaper, Trud Daily, she alleged that the US army ran a programme where it produces deadly toxins at bio-laboratories in at least 25 countries across the world. Most of these countries were in the former Soviet Union and they include Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, among others.
If indeed it is true that there are Pentagon bio laboratories around the world and this in contravention of the UN Convention on the prohibition of Biological Weapons, it would be a major failure of the international body to intervene and stop the ensuing danger.
Gaytandzhieva was unceremoniously sacked from her job after Bulgarian National Security Agency had put pressure on her employers to get rid of her.
Biological weapons and warfare feature diabolically through history as the singular most barbaric acts of extreme cowardice by man. On the 6th August 1945 and 9th August 1945 the US detonated two nuclear weapons over two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.
The devastating attack by an American B-29 bomber was the recorded as the world’s first deployed atomic bomb on perceived enemy territory. Records show that the dropping by the US army of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”, as the bombs became to be known, were so merciless in effect that they immediately killed an estimated 80 000 (eighty thousand) people and tens of thousands more died later from radiation exposure. The second bomb on Nagasaki alone killed at least 40 000 people.
The two atomic bombs were three days apart and in two separate densely-populated cities drove Japan’s Emperor Hirohito to immediate unconditional surrender at the tail-end of World War 2 in 1945.
In a radio address to the Japanese nation, he cited mercilessness of “a new and most cruel bomb”. This is why, in my opinion, the UN convention on the prohibition of Biological Weapons ought to put its foot down and use the existing international cooperation as a basis to reign in wayward regimes that flirts with biological weapons.
Fort Detrick in Maryland, outside Washington DC, has throughout the Cold War era been the epicentre of the US army’s bioweapons research and was ordered to stop operations in recent times following concern of safety in relation to the handling of deadly viruses and pathogens. It is well and fair that sovereign states do everything in their power to ensure safety of their citizens. But when a powerful regime’s foreign policy is offensive and antagonistic possession of biological weapons become a major threat to world peace.
US President Donald Trump is one of the world’s most unpredictable leaders at this moment. He has often made threats against weaker adversaries and the world is constantly on the edge monitoring his twitter account.
Countries such as Georgia need to be persuaded to guard against their territory being used as a launching pad under the cover of their bilateral agreement with Washington, which allows for a Pentagon programme in that country.
I know too well the dynamics of economic spin-offs from such a bilateral cooperation with the world’s superpower. However, a foreign policy that undermines human rights and safety of the universe is not worthy of being a source of food provision for poorer nations.