US owes world an answer on bio lab: Global Times editorial
Published: Mar 11, 2022 11:54 PM
Screengrab of Russian Defence Ministry briefing showing US-sponsored biolabs on Ukraininan territory. Photo : Russian Ministry of Defence

Screengrab of Russian Defence Ministry briefing showing US-sponsored biolabs on Ukraininan territory. Photo : Russian Ministry of Defence

The Russian Defense Ministry released on Thursday documents it acquired from the personnel of a bio lab in Ukraine. The documents expose the US and its NATO allies' research on biological weapons in Ukraine, including research on spreading the highly infectious bird flu virus through migratory birds and on pathogens such as bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted from bats to humans. Russia said the documents show that a large number of serum samples belonging to the Slavs have been transferred and that the experiments in Ukraine are similar to what Japan's Unit 731 did in WWII. The documents were uploaded online by Russia for free download. 

The US reaction has somewhat missed the point. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made eight consecutive tweets to condemn Russia for spreading disinformation, but advoided mentioning about the US' bio lab in Ukraine. She claimed that "we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine." But she didn't offer any evidence. Such condemnation didn't help clear the doubts of people around the world. Instead, such a response is pale and illogical. 

Nevertheless, US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland confirmed during a hearing that Ukraine has "biological research facilities" when asked if Ukraine has bioweapons. She also said the US is working with Ukraine to prevent Russia from getting "those research materials."

The contradictive remarks futher deepened the world's doubts about the US. Does the US have a bio lab in Ukraine? Why did the labs rush to destroy the materials right after Russia-Ukraine conflict started on February 24? Are those labs engaged in scientific research or weaponizing the research results? What is the relation between the Pentagon and the US' 336 bio labs around the world? How does the US guarantee the safety of those labs? Why has the US been exclusively blocking the establishment of the verification mechanism of the Biological Weapons Convention for more than 20 years? What is it worried about? What exactly is the connection between the Fort Detrick lab and the COVID-19 pandemic?

Biological military activities are not trivial. It is reasonable and legitimate for the international community to question the US for that. Right after WWII, the US spent 250,000 yen (several thousand US dollars at that time) on acquiring the infamous Unit 731's data, but never published what the data was used for. In nearly 30 years, the number of P4 labs on US soil increased by 750 percent - accompanied by an increasing risk of virus leakage. Because of protests from within, the US chose to establish labs overseas. Over the years, however, there have been deadly leaks linked to US military biological labs in Ukraine, South Korea, Kazakhstan and Georgia. But angry protests in those countries were simply crushed by the US manipulating public opinion.

Biological weapons are seen as weapons of mass destruction together with nuclear and chemical weapons. Any suspicion of private development of biological weapons must be promptly investigated. Russia's information release was very specific and should draw the attention of the international community. The veracity of those materials must be determined by a multi-party inspection team led by an authoritative international organization, rather than by the US alone. The US should know that smearing others cannot bleach itself. If it is really innocent as it claims, it should take the opportunity to publish what is the truth and receive multi-party investigations to prove its innocence. 

It must be pointed out that this was an accidental discovery in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has nothing to do with the conflict itself. The determination of the merits of this incident should not be linked to the position on the Russia-Ukraine issue. The international community, including Europe, should put strong pressure on the US and not be swayed by the disinformation claims of Washington. The US owes the world an answer on this matter.