‘WHO Should Intensify Monitoring Process on China’

There’s a possibility that the coronavirus was being studied by the Chinese military before the outbreak. We spoke with an expert regarding what a global investigation around biological warfare must look like.

Bruce Bennett, Senior International/Defense Researcher at the RAND Corporation and Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School
Bennett received his Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He has previously served as an adjunct professor for the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He is an expert in Northeast Asian military issues and changes in the region’s security environment.

The coronavirus was not something that started in the U.S. and spread to China. It started in China. There’s a possibility there was a leak. Facilities sometimes have problems even if they’re very good facilities. Certainly, we would need a lot more information before we could claim that.

But, the same kind of reaction happened in China when the initial cases arose as did in the Soviet Union (Sverdlovsk) in 1979 when anthrax was leaked from a biological weapons facility. At the time, people were getting sick but the security personnel wouldn’t let it be discussed. They just threw everybody in jail who talked about it.

I think the key is if China is being truthful on how few cases are occurring in China. The only way they could have their case rate so low is if they’ve got a vaccine. Vaccines normally take years to develop, so they’re going to be very reluctant to say anything.


Soviet Union Was Hiding Biological Weapons

Anthrax occurs naturally, and it’s also an endemic disease in many parts of the world where it can spread from animals to people. So is it a biological weapon?

What transitions it to a biological weapon is the decision to use it for military purposes and that’s a decision which hopefully nobody is making, but we do have to worry about some countries that have very covert establishments.

The U.S. thought that the Soviet Union was being totally compliant with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Conventions until 1992 when we got a second defector; both were senior researchers in their program. They told us where to go and what to look at, and they told us that the Soviets required many tons of smallpox as a reserve. They were going to load it up on ballistic missiles and fire them to the U.S.

The intent was to prepare it and use it to make it a biological weapon. And that’s the part we have to worry about.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors all nuclear activities around the world. The World Health Organization doesn’t seem to have as much ability to go into countries and look at the biosafety lab force and other research going on. If I were the UN secretary-general, I would be thinking about establishing a more intrusive organization under WHO right now.

‘WHO Should Intensify Monitoring Process on China’
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