A prominent Russian expert warned that the biological lab built by the Pentagon in Kazakhstan threatens Russia and Central Asia’s safety and security as it can contaminate the region and start epidemic diseases in there.
According to the head of the Ural Branch of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS) Dmitri Popov, the US lab as well as other similar facilities built along the borders with Russia have a dual-track use and fulfill biological warfare.
Construction of the lab in Almaty and on the base of an old Soviet research center for preventing plagues started in 2010 with the financial support of the US Department of Defense.
The expert recalled similar Pentagon facilities operating in other countries outside those states’ control, which work under secret regime and are led by military or intelligence agents.
Those types of facilities are run by foreign staff, including employees who have diplomatic immunity, and they are out of the control and access of the local civil health authorities, added the expert.
It has been said that the lab will store in high security conditions pathogens inherited by Kazakhstan from the Soviet military biological program and it will study defense methods against them.
The lab is expected to start operating in 2015 and it will work in collaboration with a new early warning station against outbreaks of diseases in Central Asia.
That station will be opened in April 2014 in the Southern province of Zhambyl, Kazakhstan, and it has a US funding valued at $5.6million.
According to the analyst, the facility might be used by the Pentagon for biological developments for military purposes. Popov said that the cost of construction ($108 million) “significantly exceeds the costs of constructing any similar facilities (should they serve stated purposes) and is a sign to the facility hosting dual-capable equipment”. The program is being supervised by US Senator Richard Lugar closely linked with the US military world, which is also suspicious, according to Popov.
Russian experts believe that constructing laboratories close to Russia’s borders enables the US to carry out military biological tests outside their own territory not to be afraid of the public sentiments inside the US; such steps enable the US to circumvent international treaties banning biological weapons and to create pathogenic microorganism aimed at specific genotypes within certain areas, carry out prohibited tests of biological agents, monitoring their virulence, lethality and other properties.
According to Popov, in the last decades the US has built a whole network of dual-capable laboratories in Europe, Africa, South East Asia. In the post Soviet states similar facilities are already accommodated in Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
The expert believes the facility in Kazakhstan is due to join the so-called bioPRO system. “Should the concerns over the Almaty facility be substantiated, the threat will be aggravated through free exchange of goods between Kazakhstan and Russia within the Customs Union and through labor migration from Central Asia”, he said.