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Homeland Security

29 August 2005

U.S., Ukraine Sign Agreement to Counter Threat of Bioterrorism

Senators Lugar, Obama in Russia, Ukraine review Cooperative Threat Reduction

Washington –United States Senator Richard Lugar announced that the United States and Ukraine signed an agreement August 29 to counter the threat of bioterrorism and prevent the proliferation of biological weapons and expertise.

Under this new Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement, the United States will assist Ukraine in upgrading security for biological pathogens at health laboratories throughout Ukraine and will help improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease outbreaks in Ukraine.

The signing came as Lugar, a Republican from Indiana and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senator Barack Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, visited the Kiev Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Station, one of the facilities that will be covered under the agreement. 

The station does research on pathogens that cause diseases such as anthrax, tularemia, brucellosis, listeriosis, diphtheria, cholera and typhoid. 

The signing ceremony in Ukraine was part of visit to the region by Lugar and Obama to review progress being made under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program.  That program was established under the Nunn-Lugar Act, which was co-authored by Senator Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn in 1991, to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. (See related article.) 

Concerning the bioterrorism agreement, Lugar said in a letter to Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko in May that “this high priority initiative includes a provision for a modern, safe and secure diagnostic health laboratory and a national network of epidemiological monitoring stations equipped to rapidly detect, diagnose and respond to infectious disease outbreaks throughout Ukraine, whether naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorism.”

He noted that such cooperation is ongoing with Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.  “Unfortunately, bureaucratic obstacles in your government continue to block conclusion of such an agreement between the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense,” Lugar wrote.

According to a Lugar press release, “intervention in recent days by Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko broke a logjam within Ukrainian government bureaucracy,” and Tymoshenko told the senator on August 29 that Ukraine will “cooperate in all aspects of the Nunn-Lugar program.”

According to Lugar’s office, since the CTR program was established it has helped deactivate or destroy 6,760 nuclear warheads, 587 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 483 ICBM silos, 32 ICBM mobile missile launchers, 150 bombers, 789 nuclear air-to-surface missiles, 436 submarine missile launchers, 549 submarine launched missiles, 28 nuclear submarines and 194 nuclear test tunnels.

The Nunn-Lugar program also works to re-employ scientists and facilities related to biological weapons in peaceful research initiatives. The International Proliferation Prevention Program has funded 750 projects involving 14,000 former weapons scientists and created some 580 new peaceful high-technology jobs.

Before traveling to Ukraine, Lugar and Obama met with Russian officials and visited the Russian Research Institute of Phytopathology at Golitsino, a former biological weapons facility.  The senators are also scheduled to travel to Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom during their August 26 to September 2 trip.  For more details about the itinerary and purpose of the trip, see press releases issued by the offices of Senators Lugar and Obama.

For additional information on ongoing U.S. efforts to combat nuclear proliferation, see Lugar’s “Taking Legislative Aim at Weapons of Mass Destruction,” published in the March U.S. State Department electronic journal Today's Nuclear Equation.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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