- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2002

The State Department said in a letter to a lawmaker this week that while it has no "smoking gun," it continues to have "major" and "legitimate" concerns that Cuba is developing biological weapons for offensive purposes.
John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, sought in the letter to expand upon remarks he made in a May 6 speech without compromising intelligence-gathering methods and sources.
"While I cannot go into specifics in this letter due to classification concerns, the intelligence community has evaluated a body of information and has come to the conclusion that Cuba has at least a limited, developmental offensive biological warfare research and development effort," Mr. Bolton wrote in response to a list of questions posed by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican.
Mr. Bolton said that he could not prove such an effort beyond a shadow of doubt, but that the conclusion was based on reports from defectors, emigres and other intelligence sources.
The July 22 letter reiterated the Bush administration's position, first articulated in Mr. Bolton's May 6 speech at the Heritage Foundation, that Cuba was providing safe haven for terrorists and collaborating with other state sponsors of terror, notably Iran and Iraq.
Carl Ford, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, also stated the concerns in congressional testimony on June 5.
Mr. Bolton's letter said Cuba's advanced biotechnology infrastructure and its research into various biological pathogens "are inconsistent with and exceed their declared applications."
During a trip to Cuba in May, former President Jimmy Carter said he saw no evidence that Cuba was manufacturing biological weapons. The Cuban government vigorously denies it has any biological weapons research and development.
But Mr. Bolton said there was "sufficient information to alert the American public and Congress" to a "potential threat" to the United States.
"In light of the terrorist attacks of September 11, we feel obligated to tell the public about Cuba's BW efforts," he wrote.
Mr. Bolton's letter referred to Ana Belen Montes, a former senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency who pleaded guilty to spying for Cuba in March. Before her arrest in September, Montes was responsible for crafting several intelligence reports that said Cuba posed little or no threat to the United States.
Mr. Bolton said an element of Cuban espionage against the United States was associated with Cuba's biological weapons program, and noted that Montes compromised at least four covert agents and passed top secret and special access information to Havana.
"I regret that the current status of that case does not permit me to say more about this," Mr. Bolton wrote.

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