- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

The Bush administration said yesterday that it has "broad and deep" evidence that Cuba is developing offensive biological warfare capabilities and sharing them with "other rogue states."
In a speech titled "Beyond the Axis of Evil," John Bolton, undersecretary of state for international security and arms control, named Cuba, Libya and Syria as "states intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction" against which the United States would take action to prevent such arms from reaching terrorists.
President Bush included Iran, Iraq and North Korea in an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address to Congress in January.
"The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort," Mr. Bolton said at the Heritage Foundation. "Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support [bioweapons] programs in those states."
In a later interview, a senior administration official said Washington has gathered "broad and deep" evidence of Cuba's pursuit of such weapons but is "constrained" in what it can disclose publicly.
The official said the decision to go public with the charges reflects the effect the new assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Otto Reich, has had on the administration's Latin America policy. Mr. Reich was born in Cuba and came to the United States with his parents after the 1959 communist revolution.
Mr. Bolton said Cuba, which has been designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism, "has long provided safe haven for terrorists" and "is known to be harboring terrorists from Colombia, Spain and fugitives from the United States."
He said Cuban President Fidel Castro visited Iran, Syria and Libya last year and cited a speech at Tehran University in which he said, "Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees."
Mr. Bolton said that for four decades, Cuba "has maintained a well-developed and sophisticated biomedical industry," supported by the Soviet Union until 1990.
"This industry is one of the most advanced in Latin America and leads in the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold worldwide. Analysts and Cuban defectors have long cast suspicion on the activities conducted in these biomedical facilities," he said.
"We call on Cuba to cease all [bioweapon]-applicable cooperation with rogue states and to fully comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention."
While the administration supports the Biological Weapons Convention, as well as other international arms-control agreements such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Non-Proliferation Treaty, "experience has shown that treaties and agreements are an insufficient check against state sponsors of terrorism," Mr. Bolton said.
Cuba and Libya have ratified and Syria has signed the Biological Weapons Convention, but Mr. Bolton said Washington will not assume that "a country's formal subscription to U.N. counterterrorism conventions or its membership in multilateral regimes necessarily constitutes an accurate reading of its intentions."
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, agreed that treaties are not enough to ensure compliance, but he said the administration "has not introduced a fundamentally new approach and is emphasizing the name-calling strategy."
Mr. Bolton also accused the Clinton administration of "underplaying" the threat that Cuba poses to U.S. security and sharply criticized a 1998 government report that said Cuba "has a limited capacity to engage in some military and intelligence activities which could pose a danger to U.S. citizens under some circumstances."
He said a "major reason" for the "unbalanced" report was "Cuba's aggressive intelligence operations against the United States, which included recruiting the Defense Intelligence Agency's senior Cuba analyst, Ana Belen Montes, to spy" for Havana.
"Montes not only had a hand in drafting the report but also passed some of our most sensitive information about Cuba back to Havana," Mr. Bolton said. "Montes was arrested last fall and pleaded guilty to espionage on March 19."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide