US Denies Biological Bird Flu Weapons

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - The United States has flatly denied allegations it was producing biological weapons from bird flu samples sent by Indonesia to the World Health Organization, the English daily The Jakarta Post reported Monday.
calendar icon 18 March 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Michael H. Anderson, counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, has explained the U.S. has undertaken "not to develop, produce, stockpile, or otherwise acquire or retain microbial or other biological agents or toxins of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective, and other peaceful purposes, as well as weapons and means of delivery."

The U.S. is a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, which entered into force on March 26, 1975.

However, Indonesian senior biodefense researcher Isro Samihardjo said the U.S. could use bird flu virus samples from Indonesia to develop weapons at the Los Alamos Laboratory.

Isro was speaking at a meeting about Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari's newly released book here Saturday.

In her book "It's Time for the World to Change, Divine Hands behind Bird Flu," Siti writes of her suspicions about a conspiracy between the U.S. and the WHO.

She says the collection of bird flu samples from developing countries like Indonesia for the production of vaccines was questionable and a conspiracy would force Indonesia to buy expensive bird flu vaccines.

The health minister defied protocol and refused to share virus samples with WHO last year because she said the practice was unfair to developing countries.

Indonesia has been working with Illinois-based Baxter Healthcare to develop an H5N1 virus vaccine since November 2005, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February last year to provide samples of the bird flu virus to Baxter.

The agreement said samples would be provided as long as Baxter gave Indonesia technical help to produce a vaccine.

Indonesia also gave permission to Roche International in November 2005 to produce a generic version of Tamiflu for bird flu-infected patients.

Bird flu has infected 129 Indonesians so far, killing 105 of them, which is the highest death toll in the world.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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