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US Lab in Georgia at Center of Storm Over Biological Warfare Claims (Russia)
Ria Novosti ^ | 10/15/2013 | Ria Novosti

Posted on 10/15/2013 1:01:37 AM PDT by TexGrill

WASHINGTON, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – A US-funded laboratory in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, accused by a prominent Russian official Monday of developing biological weapons, has been repeatedly touted by US officials as a key tool in guarding the region against dangerous infectious diseases.

“This laboratory has the potential to become a regional center for disease surveillance, research, as well as biosafety and security,” US Sen. Richard Lugar said in a speech last year at the christening of the laboratory that bears his name in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, several months before he retired from the Senate.

The laboratory, formally known as the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research, became the target of a renewed attack by Russian authorities Monday when Gennady Onishchenko, head of the state consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, expressed “extreme concern” about the lab.

“According to our assessments, this laboratory constitutes an important offensive link in the US military-biological capability,” Onishchenko was quoted by Russian media as saying, adding that compounds developed at the facility could be secretly employed to destabilize the political and economic situation in Russia.

It was the latest in a series of accusations this year by Onishchenko that the research center could be used for nefarious purposes, allegations that US and Georgian officials have repeatedly denied.

“There still seems to be misperception that this laboratory is a military facility or is engaged in biological weapons research which is absurd,” Richard Norland, the US ambassador to Georgia, said in July.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: russiaeconomy
Global business tip
1 posted on 10/15/2013 1:01:37 AM PDT by TexGrill
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To: TexGrill
This could get interesting very quickly, in the manner in which the 2008 'war' snowballed out of control, and could easily have gotten worse. I am not even sure if that 5-day debacle that led to Georgia losing 20% of its territory can be called a war - to this day I am convinced that the US or NATO had promised Saakashvili direct assistance, and based on that he decided he could face Russia next door, and to his chagrin the US/NATO decided to look the other way. Anyways, it is hard to prove that the African Swine Fever came from the Goergian facility as there is some ASFV in Europe, but if something with a more specific marker that is either not native and hasn't been introduced before to the area, or a marker that insinuates human involvement in terms of lethality, persistence or stability, then the Russian response would make 2008 look like a joke. For instance, an outbreak of Cholera or Rift Valley Fever, which are not endemic to the region, and with markers of it being weaponized, will definitely be taken as a WMD attack.

Another angle would be the Russians themselves deciding that hitting a small region of their territory would be the perfect cassus belli. For instance, this particular case is about ASFV, a virus that the Soviets had worked on decades back as a weaponized biological agent to be used against agricultural targets. The Soviets used to have a developed biological weapons program, and I am certain that all that knowhow and material did not just get thrown in an autoclave. So, have an anthrax outbreak in a small part of that country that is easily quarantined, have scientists prove that it was weaponized by a government and not some lone idiot of a sot, which is easy to prove for Anthrax since the particles to be really effective have to be a certain size and without electrostatic charge, and then show that the attack 'must have' come from Georgia.

Anyways, that's an extreme scenario. More importantly, with Mikheil Saakashvili out of power, and Bidzina Ivanishvili pro-Russian stance, that even makes it less likely.

However, games with biological agents could potentially be worse than even nuclear arms brinkmanship.

2 posted on 10/15/2013 2:03:49 AM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear-tipped Ballistic Missiles: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol)
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To: TexGrill
US Sen. Richard Lugar said in a speech last year at the christening of the laboratory that bears his name

As an aside, we need a "Byrd Rule" that says no government facility shall bear the name of a living politician. And since the cost of renaming the facility is too great a burden for the public, the solution is obvious.

3 posted on 10/15/2013 6:15:09 AM PDT by NonValueAdded (Occupy the DC Mall - take back the monuments)
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To: spetznaz

Abkhazia in Georgia was a known site of Soviet bio-weapon research. They had a chimp farm there to use them for tests and the entire subtropical area of the Russian Black Sea coast was infested by runaway chimps in earlier 1990s after this farm was bombed in an earlier skirmishes between Georgia and their separatist minorities.

4 posted on 10/15/2013 7:08:15 AM PDT by cunning_fish
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