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Cablegate: Bioterrorism: Enhancing Bilateral Efforts

VZCZCXRO1323
RR RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #5031 2900440
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170440Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4658
INFO RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4631
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2486
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2784

UNCLAS MOSCOW 005031

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OES/IHB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PTER RS
SUBJECT: BIOTERRORISM: ENHANCING BILATERAL EFFORTS

REFS: A. 2006 MOSCOW 4312
B. 2006 STATE 98525
C. 2006 STATE 178100
D. STATE 30370
E. STATE 112547

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Department biodefense experts met in Moscow
October 10 to discuss bilateral bioterrorism cooperation with the
MFA Department of New Threats and Challenges. MFA reported some
confusion about the topics and experts needed for a proposed second
bilateral meeting of bioterrorism experts to be held under the
auspices of CTWG. MFA supports the idea of a separate bilateral
meeting of WMD experts in Washington on or about December 7. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) On October 10, Marc Ostfield and Lindsey Hillesheim of the
Department's Office of International Health and Biodefense (OES/IHB)
and Embassy Science Officer met with Vladimir Titorenko, Deputy
Director of the MFA's Department of New Challenges and Threats
(DNV), and Vladimir Prokhorov, DNV officer, to discuss bilateral
cooperation on bioterrorism under the U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism
Working Group (CTWG). The discussion provided a useful introduction
for Titorenko to Ostfield, the U.S. POC on bilateral cooperation on
combating bioterrorism, and allowed an opportunity for U.S.
officials to hear Russian thoughts about potential next steps in
this work.

3. (SBU) Titorenko indicated that there was some confusion on the
Russian side as to the new format and included topics of the CTWG.
He understood that in the most recent meeting between U/S Burns and
Deputy Foreign Minister Kislyak, there had been no mention of any
CTWG-related issues. Titorenko hoped the anticipated November
meeting in Brussels between Special Representative Anatoly Safonov
and U.S. Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Dell Dailey would
allow for discussion of CTWG content and structure and help clear up
any GOR confusion.

4. (SBU) Echoing GOR statements over the past few years (Ref. A),
Titorenko gave the familiar refrain that bioterrorism is "a virtual
threat", explaining that "it's not like putting a bomb near the
Minister." He added that "a biological weapon is one of rich
countries not poor countries," since poor countries, even with
advanced knowledge are not able to produce anything but "primitive"
biological weapons.

5. (SBU) Addressing the longstanding U.S. proposal (Refs. B-D) to
hold a second bilateral meeting of bioterrorism experts under CTWG
auspices as a follow-on to the productive Moscow meeting in 2006
(Ref. A), Titorenko said that GOR technical agencies had difficulty
delineating the difference between bioterrorism, state-run
biological weapons programs, and legitimate research into biological
agents either for scientific knowledge or to develop medical
countermeasures (e.g., vaccines) and thus were unsure what sort of
experts, from a range of sectors, should be involved in the proposed
bilateral bioterrorism meeting. Titorenko suggested that a letter
from the U.S. side spelling out the kind of GOR interagency expert
participation envisioned would help move things forward in Moscow,
preferably if conveyed prior to or at the anticipated Safonov-Dailey
meeting in November.

6. (U) Titorenko also echoed the message the State Department
received in September about a possible bilateral meeting of WMD
experts in Washington on or about December 7. As Russia sees it,
this meeting would help move forward CTWG work in this area once
CTWG content and structure are finalized. The Russian proposal for
such a CTWG-related meeting in Washington is convenient since
Russian WMD experts from several technical agencies are traveling to
Canada in early December as part of Russia-Canada work on WMD.
Given the unique nature of bioterrorism, Titorenko indicated that a
separate bioterrorism-related meeting in DC at that time might be
useful.

7. (SBU) On another bioterrorism-related issue, Prokhorov briefly
discussed GOR views of the United Nations Department of Disarmament
Affairs (UNDDA) July meeting in New York on setting up a possible
bio-incident database (Ref. E). The GOR is concerned that this may
be a duplication of effort with respect to the mechanisms in place
as part of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC)
(although he noted that the BWC has "no control mechanism") and that
Russian experts were concerned about the lack of definition as to
what constitutes a bio-incident (for example, where hoaxes fit in).

BURNS

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