Printer Friendly

AUTHOR SAYS CUBA POSSESSES ADVANCED BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS.

In a recently published book, a former Soviet intelligence officer claims the Cuban biotechnology industry has developed biological weapons. A Miami newspaper seconded the author's assertions, but US officials are skeptical, and Cuban officials say the charge is "ridiculous."

Rumors that Cuba has an active biological-warfare program have surfaced in the past. This time, the source of the claim is a two-page reference to Cuba in Biohazard, a book written by Ken Alibek, a former Soviet intelligence officer who headed the biological-warfare program in the former Soviet Union and defected to the US in 1992.

Alibek says he has no direct knowledge of such a program in Cuba, but quotes his former boss, Gen. Yuri Kalinin, who told Alibek, after a 1990 visit to Cuba, he believed Cuba was operating a program under cover of its sophisticated pharmaceutical industry. Kalinin said the program was the equal of any in the industrialized nations.

"Kalinin saw no weapons production, but with his experience in offensive biological-warfare work, it was his opinion that they [the Cubans] were doing offensive work also," said Alibek.

An account in the Miami Spanish-language daily El Nuevo Herald said, "US and Russian experts" say the center for the secret research program is hidden on the fourth floor of the Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnologia (CIGB) in Havana.

One source who affirmed that the CIGB has a secret biological-weapons research facility was Cuban defector Florentino Azpillaga, whom El Nuevo Herald identified as a former high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer.

Azpillaga told the newspaper that he personally visited the secret laboratories while delivering a package to the CIGB. He said on another occasion he heard Castro saying Cuba would use biological weapons if attacked by the US.

Despite the second-hand nature of Alibek's claim and the lack of direct evidence of such a program, El Nuevo Herald reported as fact in its June 20 edition that "Cuba has a sophisticated program for these weapons with a high offensive capability."

The news story also quotes Castro as saying in 1998 that if the US attacked Cuba, "they would be poisoned by the blood of this tame sheep." The story continued, "This was interpreted as a threat of bacteriological warfare."

Cuban Foreign Ministry spokesman Alejandro Gonzalez called Alibek's assertions "ridiculous." He said the CIGB facility is regularly visited by foreign scientists, including some from the US, and that the US government knows no biological-warfare research is going on there.

US response to claims is muted US officials reacted to the Alibek claims with reserve.

A State Department spokesperson said, "We have no evidence that Cuba is stockpiling or has mass-produced any BW [biological warfare] agents."

The official US position on the issue has changed little since a 1998 Pentagon report said Cuba presented no military threat to the US. Under pressure from the Cuban exile community and the anti-Castro faction in Congress, the Defense Department revised the assessment, increasing somewhat the perceived likelihood that Cuba could develop biological weapons.

Summarizing the upgraded assessment, a Defense Department official said, "You can't say there's no capability" (see EcoCentral, 1998-04-16). [Sources: Notimex, 06/20/99; The Miami Herald, 06/23/99; Reuters, 06/24/99; El Nuevo Herald (Florida), 06/29/99, 07/12/99]
COPYRIGHT 1999 Latin American Data Base/Latin American Institute
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:NotiCen: Central American & Caribbean Affairs
Date:Jul 15, 1999
Words:540
Previous Article:REGION: TEMPERS FLARE REGARDING SAN JUAN RIVER CONTROVERSY & DEPORTATION OF 35 NICARAGUANS FROM COSTA RICA.
Next Article:HONDURAS: MILITARY NEWS IN BRIEF.


Related Articles
The prospect of domestic bioterrorism.
Secrets of Biological Warfare: Despite some glaring flaws, Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War is an informative introduction to the...
The miniaturization of mass destruction: bioterrorism has been around a long time: the Romans used dead animals to foul their enemies' water, and the...
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER GOES TO CUBA, CONTRADICTS ADMINISTRATION ON BIOWARFARE CLAIMS, EMBARGO, & TRAVEL BAN.
Carter clears Castro. (Correction, Please!).
Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War.
Beyond the axis of evil: additional threats from weapons of mass destruction. (Legislation and Policy).
In their own words ...
No evidence Cuba's a biothreat, say experts.
Smith urges Cuba's removal from blacklist.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters