Georgia to assume control of Lugar Center for Public Health at World CBRN Congress

Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, along with its Ministries of Health, Labor and Social Affairs, presided over the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Congress on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Science & Consequence Management.

This year's congress is focused on increasing global understanding of counter-proliferation and counterterrorism issues for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland will sign an agreement with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili later in the congress to transfer ownership of the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health to the Georgian government.

The Lugar Center, which is run by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, is a biological research facility established by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency to contain and house dangerous pathogens, as well as encourage international research collaborations.

"Georgia is a natural location for this Congress because since independence, Georgia has been a leader in the cause of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism," U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Andrew Weber said. "My first visit to Georgia was in 1998, when we had a project to remove highly enriched uranium for safekeeping outside of Georgia. Since then, we have worked together in improving Georgia's interdiction capability, preventing nuclear smuggling, and strengthening the system for monitoring infectious disease outbreaks, which is part of the global efforts to counter biological threats. Georgia is contributing to the global health security agenda and is playing a leadership role in this."