Although in disrepair in many respects, this complex remains, raising fears in the West that dangerous materials, equipment, and know-how could be misused or could leak to parties of proliferation concern. Encouraging Russia to reconfigure some of these facilities to carry out peaceful work on dangerous pathogens and to convert the others to peaceful use not connected with dangerous pathogens is thus an important aspect of U.S. nonproliferation policy.
Russia will undoubtedly continue to support legitimate research and related activities on dangerous pathogens. U.S. involvement in these activities through cooperative programs will provide opportunities to build confidence that prohibited research is not being pursued under the guise of legitimate undertakings. Also, from a public health viewpoint, Russian scientists who participated in former Soviet BW program have a unique knowledge of many aspects of naturally occurring pathogens as well as those that could be used by terrorist groups.
The committee believes that appropriately structured U.S.-Russian cooperation on dangerous pathogens—featuring direct laboratory-to-laboratory contacts and based on the principle of broad transparency—will serve the interests of both countries. Such cooperation could contribute significantly to the following objectives:
National security benefits
Providing greater mutual confidence about compliance with the BWC than would otherwise be possible
Reducing proliferation incentives
Serving as a stepping stone to dismantlement opportunities
Reconfiguring former Soviet BW-related activities
Enhancing capabilities to combat bioterrorism
Public health benefits
Improving understanding of the prevalence and characteristics of pathogens that pose threats to public health
Strengthening capabilities to prevent, diagnose, and treat outbreaks of infectious diseases
Enhancing international communications concerning disease trends and outbreaks
Improving the stability of Russian research institutes by increasing the commercial viability of their research products
Leveraging limited national financial and human resources to serve national security public health
Providing new opportunities for the U.S. private sector to become more active in Russia
Enhancing the base of fundamental knowledge about pathogenesis
Increasing the international availability of research results.
Even the most extensive collaboration between Russian and U.S. scientists will not provide incontrovertible assurance that all research activities on dangerous pathogens are devoted to legitimate purposes. Recognizing this risk, the committee has concluded that, governed by appropriate rules of transparency, a cooperative program can be carried out in a manner to ensure that the risk of abuse of such a program is reduced to an acceptable level.
Expanded arrangements to provide sufficient transparency should include mutual agreement on a project-by-project basis concerning the activities that are legitimate; regular and agreed-upon access to