- NEW YORK (Agence France Presse) - A serious accident at one of China's
secret plants for developing biological weapons caused two major epidemics,
the New York Times reported Monday, citing a book by a Soviet defector.
- Kanatjan Alibekov, the most senior defector
from the Soviet germ-warfare program also claims in his book that Soviet
researchers tried to turn HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, into a weapon,
the Times said.
- In "Biohazard," Alibekov says
that even as the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, pursued peace
openings with the West, he ordered a vast expansion of the deadly effort
to turn germs and viruses into weapons of mass destruction.
- The defector, now known as Ken Alibek,
says in the book that as deputy director of a top branch of the Soviet
program, he knew of the disaster in China because he saw secret Soviet
intelligence reports twice a month.
- Spy satellites peering down at China
found what seemed to be a large biological weapons laboratory and plant
near a remote site for testing nuclear warheads, he wrote.
- Intelligence agents then found evidence
that two epidemics of hemorrhagic fever swept the region in the late 1980s.
- The area had never previously known such
diseases, which cause profuse bleeding and death, Alibekov wrote.
- "Our analysts," Alibek said,
"concluded that they were caused by an accident in a lab where Chinese
scientists were weaponizing viral diseases."
- Viral scourges that cause intense bleeding
include Marburg fever and the dreaded Ebola virus. Both are endemic to
- China has signed a 1972 treaty banning
biological weapons, but U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected
that China harbors a biological-weapons program, the Times said.
- "Biohazard" is scheduled to
be published by Random House this week.