Cablegate: Part Two of Two -- Biological Weapons Convention

O 041535Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

18-22, 2008




38. (SBU) DAS Ken Staley met with Pakistani Ambassador and
Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Masood Khan, to
discuss the Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of Experts
and the work of States Parties. (Ambassador Khan served as
the Chairman of the Biological Weapons Convention Review
Conference in 2006 and the Chairman of the Experts Meeting
and Conference of States Parties in 2007. Ambassador Khan
noted the progress that had been made by States Parties over
the past two and a half years and expressed enthusiasm for
the Work Program and continued, increased collaboration among
the scientific community, NGOs and States Parties. Khan
reiterated his own personal commitment to the BWC and noted
that he was still involved in a process within the Pakistani
Government to complete BWC Confidence Building Measures. Dr.
Staley noted that the United States is actively involved in
helping to build biocapacity in Pakistan and has developed a
number of successful collaborations among Pakistani-American
and other regional scientists that are contributing to
increased biosecurity. Dr. Staley added that the U.S. is
interested in further engaging with Pakistan on BWC-related
affairs; Ambassador Khan was enthusiastic about increased
collaboration and offered to serve as an interlocutor between
the U.S. and Pakistan based on his previous (and some
ongoing) work. Ambassador Khan then added that a logical
first step in order to facilitate a dialogue was to invite a
delegation of key Pakistani bioscience figures to Washington
for bilateral consultations in the near future.

39. (SBU) China bilateral. Alternate Del head Staley met
with Chinese CD del deputy Li to express interest in another
round of bilateral BWC discussions in capitals. He thought
that October (in Beijing) might be appropriate. Staley said
that we had appreciated the serious way in which China had
approached the February 2008 bilaterals in Washington,
including bringing experts from the health and agriculture
ministries. He said the U.S. would like to continue the
comparison of legislation and regulations of both sides. He
also suggested that the two sides jointly develop a two-three
hour-long education module on dual-use issues and to present
it to the December meeting of States Parties. Li agreed that
the two countries should hold more bilaterals in the near
future, the Washington discussions were very useful. Any
arrangements should be worked out through diplomatic channels.

40. (SBU) U.S.-China Experts Bilaterals. U.S. and Chinese
experts met to discuss issues of biosafety/biosecurity,
education and awareness-raising, and BWC and pathogen
security legislation. In the area of biosafety and
biosecurity training the Chinese said that all personnel
working with dangerous pathogens are require to pass a
certification exam before they can work with these agents.
Without certification they are not allowed access to the
organisms. The Chinese enacted a training law that ensures
that dual-use pathogens are only used for peaceful purposes,
that mandates a two-person rule for work with dangerous
pathogens, and right to refuse to work with pathogens or
procedures that require BSL-3 conditions in laboratories that
are not certified at that level. In 2004 the government
passed a law that mandates education on pathogen regulations
at all universities and laboratories that work or train with
dangerous microorganisms. They referred to this core
training as "pathogen-centric." In the area of legislation,
the PRC has criminalized the unauthorized and uncertified
use, transfer, or possession of highly pathogenic
microorganisms. On the question of high containment
laboratories, at one point China listed over 100 BSL-3
laboratories, however, when they instituted a process for
certifying these labs, only 16 were licensed and the others
were downgraded. The Chinese experts and MFA representatives
said there are no licensed BSL-4 labs in China.

41. (U) Cameroon. Having asked for assistance from the ISU
to attend the Experts Meeting - and not receiving any -
Cameroon, nevertheless, funded Magistrate Pauline Essome
Siliki - who is in charge of implementing all treaty
obligations, to participate as an observer in the full
Experts session. (Note: While many Parties offer
"assistance," paying for a non-State Party to come to Geneva
for a week is a hard sell. End note.) ISU staff introduced
Ms. Seliki to all three depositaries, the Chairman and the EU
coordinator, as well as VERTIC, and garnered support for any
assistance needed for accession to the BWC in short order.
She is confident that membership in the Biodiversity
Convention will allow for an efficient review of the BWC.
Del member will be providing additional information and
impetus to join soonest.

42. (U) Libya. Deloff Crittenberger met with UK (Dr. Miller)
and Libyan Rep (Dr. Sharif) to review the possibility of
tabling a working paper on their trilateral work on issues of
relevance to the Experts Meeting. As Libya is still studying
the draft paper, they agreed instead to give a short
statement highlighting the cooperative efforts and signaling
a paper would be tabled at the December meeting. The three
also discussed issues related to the Trilateral Steering and
Cooperation Committee's Bio Subcommittee.

43. (U) World Health Organization. DAS Ken Staley and Del
member Greg Stewart met with Drs. May Chu and Alex Ross at
the World Health Organization (WHO) and shared observations
regarding the BWC Experts Meeting and noted an apparent
disconnect between States Parties offering assistance in
biosafety and biosecurity and those who might seek
assistance. They asked if WHO could help to foster this
connection in their work with developing countries. WHO
expressed interest and noted that they have compiled an
extensive database of country specific requirements for the
International Health Regulations (IHR); the database includes
laboratory capacity and biosafety/biosecurity needs. Dr. Chu
explained that the WHO was reorganizing the bureaucracy
responsible for biosecurity assistance. Starting in
mid-September, units responsible for laboratory
biosafety/biosecurity, health surveillance and support, and
ports of entry would be reporting to Dr. Chu's Office
(currently the Office of Laboratory Core Capacity, likely
renamed when the reorganization is announced). The groups
reporting to Dr. Chu will share responsibility for
implementing the 2005 International Health Regulations, with
a particular focus on developing capacity in resource poor

44. (U) WHO (continued) Participants agreed that the WHO and
BWC participants all share common interests: all want to
increase biosafety and biosecurity; BWC participants
primarily because of security concerns, the WHO primarily
because of health concerns as part of a larger health agenda.
All agreed that cooperation between the WHO and BWC States
Parties was possible and synergistic. Participants agreed to
explore ways in which to collaborate in the near-term to
ensure that available biosecurity assistance from the U.S.
was targeted effectively and to explore opportunities to
provide coordinated and comprehensive biosafety/biosecurity
and laboratory capacity-building before the December, 2008
Meeting of States Parties.

45. (U) WHO (continued) Deloff Weller met with Dr. Ali
Mohammadi (WHO) Dr. Mohammadi had suggested the meeting in
response to Deloff's inquiry regarding subject matter
expertise in sheep and goatpox endemicity and preventive
measures in the Middle East region. Dr. Dilimi, present
Director General of the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research
Institute and who will be replacing Dr. Mohammadi, was also
present. Dr. Dilimi provided a brochure describing the
research being conducted at and biological products produced
by the institute. Dr. Dilimi mentioned that they have the
capability to do large animal challenge studies in completely
contained isolation facilities with a wide array of animal
pathogens. (Del note: most of the agents mentioned appear on
the USG Select Agent List and Australia Group Control List
for Animal Pathogen. End note).

Other Meetings

46. (U) Close Allies Lunch/2009 Chairman. As has become the
tradition, Germany hosted a political-level lunch for the
German, French, UK and U.S. delegations on the opening day.
The only issue discussed in detail was the Canadian candidacy
for BWC Chairman on behalf of the Western Group. (The
candidate, Geneva-based Canadian Amb. Grinius, is not openly
soliciting support, preferring to maintain WEOG cohesion,
particularly as there are no other candidates at this time.)
All had reviewed a detailed rationale for U.S. support of
Canada based on their extensive work, and funding, within the
G-8 Global Partnership on bioengagement with the FSU, and in
leading international efforts for biosafety/biosecurity
assistance. Canada also hosts a WHO Regional Center in
Winnipeg which plays a key role in bringing scientists from
many countries, such as Libya, to participate in exercises,
etc. which allows access to Western scientists and practices
they would not have access to otherwise. In addition, the
Ambassador and his management in Ottawa have the interest,
staff and demeanor to support being Chairman presiding over
sensitive NAM issues on assistance. Canada also established
a consultative group composed of those countries in the WEOG
that are not EU or nuclear (JACKSNNZ). This group, to which
the U.S. is invited, has proven very useful in offsetting the
EU dominance of WEOG deliberations. The UK is very
supportive of a Canadian Chairmanship, Germany supports as
well. The French will poll other EU members for an official
response, not expecting any country to come forth with a
candidate. EU members realize the benefit of having our
candidate put forth early on.

47. (U) Coordination on BWC Legislation Efforts. Del Rep
Mikulak chaired a prearranged meeting with all those involved
in providing assistance on BWC implementing legislation.
Experts from the UK, Australia, Germany and the U.S. were
joined by UNSCR1540, VERTIC, SIPRI, ICRC, the Asia-Pacific
Center/Melbourne Law School and ISU staff, as well as
consultant Ralf Trapp, to share information about ongoing and
future efforts. VERTIC, with four staff members, is
undertaking very extensive efforts, having completed 45
detailed surveys of the legislation of countries of concern.
They intend to complete 90 more in the next year. Priorities
for interaction in capitals are the first 30 that have
surveys complete; those in the Middle East; and those that
have both a terrorist threat and a growing biotech sector.
SIPRI is also active, focusing mainly on export controls,
working with the State Department, in the Balkans. They have
been pleased with the amount of progress made in legislating
dual-use controls based on EU standards. They are leading EU
pilot projects and technical assistance efforts. They have
also been active in providing infectious disease
"protections" focusing on work at the bench level, principal
investigators and management at facilities in the Stockholm
area. The EU is having "enormous problems" in getting member
states to get implementation measures in place, as the U.S.
has noted about Belgium for some years. SIPRI is
particularly frustrated with the lack of Customs Department
POCS in Europe.

48. (U) Germany has led EU Joint Action assistance visits to
Peru and Nigeria with marked success. Olivia Bosch repeated
her points made in the open session about the benefits of the
UNSRC 1810 provision that allows 1540 staff to travel to
capitals to assist with 1540 submissions. VERTIC will host a
biosecurity seminar in Jordan in October where they hope to
engage Middle Eastern officials. The ICRC has a "BWC Model
Law" and "Sample Act on biosafety/security" as well as Fact
Sheets on 1540 which others have found very useful. They
have been working directly with Nigeria and in coordination
with WHO in North Africa. This informal legislation group
will provide feedback to VERTIC on any POCs they may have in
the nearly 50 countries they are studying. The U.S. will
begin an e-mail chain to allow information to be easily
shared. Given propriety concerns, the group will all focus
for now on the latest information for Jordan, Libya, Morocco
and the Philippines and thus concentrate over time on
specific actions and not share full databases. The group
will met again on the margins of the December States Parties

49. (SBU) G-8 Bioterrorism Experts Group (BTEX). Reps from
several G-8 countries (Germany, Japan, US, UK, Canada) had a
brief discussion, at German instigation, of future G-8
activities on bioterrorism. (Germans told U.S. Deloffs
privately that they are concerned about ensuring that active
work continue under the current Japanese G-8 chairmanship and
subsequently under the Italians. Neither has been very
engaged in previous BTEX workshops.) UK reps said that
Britain values G-8 bioterrorism work, particularly in the
areas of food defense, water contamination, and forensic
epidemiology, and that on balance the work should remain
under the Nonproliferation Directors Group (NPDG). Others
generally agreed, but in some cases noted ruefully that their
counter-terrorism sections tended to be relatively
uninterested in bioterrorism. U.S. Deloffs also suggested
that more attention be given in future activities to
prevention aspects. Dels noted that BTEX has not had a
policy-oriented discussion to plan future work since 2005.
In response, the Japanese del agreed to consider convening
such a discussion in Geneva on the margins of the Meeting of
BWC States Parties in early December.

50. (U) CBM research project. Filippa Lentzos (London School
of Economics) and Reto Wollenmann (Swiss del) met with
Deloffs to brief on their project to analyze the usefulness
of the existing CBMs in actually building confidence in
compliance. The researchers acknowledged the U.S. position
that discussion on changes in CBMs should not begin until a
year before the 2011 BWC Review Conference and stressed that
they are simply preparing background material for those
eventual discussions.

51. (SBU) Chile bilateral. Del rep Mikulak met with Chilean
deputy CD del head Camillo Sanhueza and General de Brigada
Sergio Gomez, the prospective head of the planned Chilean
National Authority for the Biological Weapons Convention.
Gomez briefed Mikulak on the legislation under consideration
in the Chilean parliament and asked for U.S. assistance in
planning and holding a regional workshop on "biosecurity" in
spring 2009. He noted that this workshop would be much like
the aborted workshop initially planned with help from U.S.
experts in May 2008. Mikulak welcomed Chilean efforts to
enact new legislation on biological weapons activities and
explored possible topics. He undertook to provide a response
as soon as possible after consulting colleagues in Washington.

52. (SBU) U.S.-Australia-Japan Trilateral Strategic Dialogue
on Bioterrorism. Informal discussions were held on the
margins of the plenary on tentative plans for the
Bioterrorism Working Group of the U.S.-Australia-Japan
Counterterrorism Trilateral dialogue to be held in
Washington, October 2-3. Australia's Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (DFAT) representative, Dr. Tony Willis,
said that Australia's goal for the meeting is two-fold: to
build upon the Bioterrorism Regional Workshop in Kuala Lumpur
in May, 2008, possibly with advanced biosecurity-related
training of law enforcement personnel; and to expand the
dialogue to chemical security and possibly all WMD issues for
trilateral cooperation on assistance in Southeast Asia.
Willis reiterated Australian frustration with the Japanese in
this Bioterrorism Working Group; however, during separate
informal discussions with Japanese delegates from the CD in
Geneva and the Department of Science and Technology, they
felt a discussion on how to provide biosecurity legislative
assistance trilaterally may also be worth exploration, given
Japan's legislative experience in dealing with bioterrorism
issues. Willis also expressed keen interest in formalizing
U.S.-Australian bilateral biosecurity capacity-building
projects in Indonesia, and possibly Pakistan; the latter due
to the new Prime Minister Rudd's priority on expanding
assistance beyond Southeast Asia and into South Asia.

53. (U) Request for assistance: Dr. Eltayed A. Eltayed Ali,
Head, Institute of Radiobiology, Sudan Atomic Energy
Commission, spoke with Deloff Weller (whom he had previously
met at a workshop in Amman, Jordan). Dr. Ali said he would
shortly provide information on Sudan,s needs for
biosafety/security training and risk assessments. Deloff
said he would communicate Sudan's interest.

Conclusions and Recommendations on Biosecurity/Biosafety

54. (U) States Parties and other interested attendees broadly
agreed that biosafety and biosecurity standards are important
and should be implemented without delay. Since 2003, when
biosafety and biosecurity were first discussed by the BWC
Experts Meeting, considerable work has been done by
governments, the private sector, NGOs and academia to develop
standards and educational tools. The U.S. has assisted the
World Health Organization to create biosecurity standards,
which are now available to all WHO members. In addition, the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
working with the U.S. Department of State, has developed
standards for biosecurity. Finally, numerous countries have
passed legislation to ensure that all labs practice
appropriate biosecurity. Many of the presentations at the
Expert's Meeting focused on applying rational risk analyses
to ensure that biosecurity standards were applied
appropriately. While developed countries have made great
strides to implement appropriate biosecurity measures,
developing countries need some additional aid. In most cases
the aid is really a way to connect labs and scientists in
countries with government and non-government organizations
that might lend technical expertise.

55. (U) Despite the need for laboratory biosecurity in
developing countries, existing aid funds have languished
unused. In 2007-8, the EU set aside monies to assist 12
countries with biosecurity and legislation. Only two
countries took advantage of the offers for assistance
funding, the additional 10 went unspent, although the EU was
not forward-leaning in giving this assistance. There were
numerous States Parties at this year's Experts Meeting that,
in good faith, requested additional information and or
technical assistance related to biosecurity.

56. (SBU) As a result, Del recommends that Washington
consider the following:

--Establishing a clearinghouse in the Implementation Support
Unit for requests for technical assistance and offers to
provide aid before the December meeting (on the basis that
there would be no increase in U.S. costs or ISU staff);

--Including a statement along the following lines n the MSP
summary: "We call on all countries that seek or request
aid to utilize the informal and confidential mechanism
established by the Implementation Support Unit during the
fall of 2008."

-- Inviting WHO representatives to Washington to continue
discussions on how available biosecurity assistance from the
U.S. can be targeted effectively and coordinated with WHO's
efforts to assist states in fulfilling the International
Health Regulations. The goal of the discussions should be to
develop an approach to providing coordinated and
comprehensive biosafety/biosecurity and laboratory
capacity-building before the December, 2008 Meeting of States

--------------------------------------------- -
Conclusions and Recommendations: Oversight, Education,
Awareness Raising, Codes of Conduct
--------------------------------------------- -

57. (U) States Parties and other interested attendees
generally agreed that awareness raising and ethical training
in the life sciences is useful and has the potential to
reduce the risks inherent in dual-use research. Since 2005,
when professional responsibility in the life sciences was
first addressed by the BWC Experts meeting, considerable work
has been done by governments, NGOs and academia to develop a
rationale and training materials. Although the value of
education and codes of conduct is clear, life sciences
communities have not yet been effectively engaged. The
burden largely falls on the scientific community but
governments can encourage and facilitate this work. A number
of States Parties (including representatives of academia
present on delegations) made clear their desire for materials
for graduate life science training.

58. (SBU) Although a number of efforts to develop such
materials are underway, training efforts are scattered and
have not yet taken hold. To gain global acceptance, a broad
variety of training materials will likely have to be
developed and made available. As a result, Del recommends
that Washington consider the following:

--Jointly developing a short education module on dual-use
issues with China for presentation to the December States
Parties Meeting;

--Supporting the South Korean, Japanese and Latin American
request for educational materials by translating the joint
U.S.-Chinese educational module into Korean, Japanese and
Spanish (as well as into the other UN official languages )
Russian, Arabic and French);

--Including a statement along the following lines in the MSP
report in December: "All graduate life sciences programs
should ensure that students are made aware of the BWC and the
potential concerns associated with dual use research."

--------------------------------------------- ----
Conclusions and Recommendations: Other BWC Issues
--------------------------------------------- ----

59. (U) The gathering of States Parties, experts and
nongovernmental groups also provided an opportunity to
discuss other BWC issues. Numerous States Parties and NGOs
referred to BWC implementing legislation in their
presentations and these points were reinforced in a
presentation by a 1540 staff member. In the BWC context,
States Parties have been encouraged to enact legislation
criminalizing biological weapons, especially since the
initial Work Program was initiated in 2003. The work of the
1540 Committee to ensure that UN members enact penal
legislation could advance BWC implementation; similarly, the
work of many States Parties to enact criminal legislation
against BW would help implement 1540 requirements.
Unfortunately, there has been little interaction between the
efforts of the 1540 committee and those States Parties due in
part to restrictions on data-sharing between the 1540
Committee and UN Member States. Additionally, there is need
to coordinate disparate databases, encourage cross talk and
provide the ability to match those with needs to those who
are willing to provide assistance. Furthermore, the most
extensive database on legislation is held by VERTIC, a
London-based NGO.

60. (SBU) There is no mechanism for routine
information-sharing or collaboration on legislation among
like-minded countries and organizations. As a result, Del
recommends that Washington consider the following:

-- Ensuring that Amb. Avramchev, the 2008 BWC Chairman is
invited to participate in the September meeting of the 1540

-- Pursuing a UN-ISU arrangement that would allow the ISU and
the 1540 Committee to more formally share information;

-- Exploring with the 1540 Committee, the ISU, VERTIC and
others holding legislative databases ways in which the
disparate databases on biological weapons-related legislation
could be integrated and made available.



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