U.S. Department of State
Press Statement by John Dinger/Acting Spokesman
May 6, 1997
Cuba: No Use of Biological Weapons
The United States categorically denies the outrageous charges made by the Cuban Government regarding the alleged discharge of the thrips palmi insect over Cuba to damage agriculture there. The United States has not engaged in any act which would be in violation of our obligations under the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.
The accusations made by the Government of Cuba are deliberate disinformation. The Cuban Government has charged that an aircraft of the Department of State used in narcotics crop eradication deliberately on October 21, 1996, released a biological agent, i.e. thrips palmi insect. This aircraft on October 21 was en route to Bogota, Colombia via Grand Cayman Island, and had obtained clearance from Cuban authorities to fly over Cuba en route to its destination. The Cuban Government in a note of December 26, 1996 (attached), expressed concern that the aircraft had released some unknown substance. In a note of February 2, 1997 (attached), we informed the Cuban government that the aircraft's pilot, upon observing a Cubana commercial aircraft flying below him, marked his spot by using the aircraft's smoke generator. The pilot followed prudent and safe aviation procedures by marking his aircraft's location with smoke.
We note that all aircraft used for crop eradication by the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau of the Department of State are equipped to generate smoke and with an aerosol sprinkling system. During long flights, the sprinkling systems are not operational because the tanks which normally carry herbicides are actually used to carry fuel.
At no time did this aircraft engage in conduct which would violate U.S. or international law. The United States was among the original state parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction and serves as one of three depositories. We are in full compliance with the Convention's provisions. The United States unilaterally destroyed all stockpiled biological agents prior to entry into force of the Convention.
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