Barry Kellman addresses the House International Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism & Nonproliferation

Following his staff briefing at the House International Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism & Nonproliferation yesterday, Barry Kellman, president of the International Security & Biopolicy Institute, spoke with BioPrepWatch about the Obama Administration's newly announced strategy for countering biothreats.


By Justin Roth


BPW: What was the subject of your staff briefing today?


Kellman: The Administration’s new strategy on countering bio-threats and why Congress might have a role in it.


BPW: What is your impression of the strategy?


Kellman: I am very excited about the level of detail. By announcing the policy in Geneva at the biological weapons convention, the Administration showed a symbolic significance to the international community that was enormous. The policy blends the need for prevention with preparedness, and the way it brings those two agendas into convergence is what is really impressive.


BPW: Why is the Administration revitalizing the Bio Weapons Convention?


Kellman: It is the one thing that everyone in the international community agrees is very important, and is a common ground. It is a way to engage the international community in a way in which the international community expects to be engaged.


BPW: Why did the Administration choose not to revive negotiations on a verification protocol?


Kellman: The nonproduction of weapons cannot be verified. The proposals for verification are a way to spend an enormous amount of money and energy and get very little positive benefit. Outside of a very small community that has been talking about a verification protocol, nobody wants a verification protocol.


BPW: How will this new policy affect relationships with other countries?


Kellman: It remains to be seen on how it is implemented. At the grassroots level, we need to work with other countries, so we can work on the details together.


BPW: How was your briefing received?


Kellman: The people at the briefing were very receptive and there was a great discussion, but there were not many people attending the briefing. The people who get it are very committed. The problem is not there, but with the greater mass of people who are not paying attention to these things. It is a horrible thing to say, but we might need an attack to get ready for an attack, and that is horrific. I really wish people in this community and on the Hill generally saw the threat before the threat manifested itself.