Export of bioweapon technology to India to remain restricted

The United States has maintained restrictions on the export of as many as 11 of its 16 dual use technology regimes to India, including on dual use technology in chemical and biological weapons.

Dual use technologies are those that can be used for both peaceful and military purposes, including those that can aid in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the creation of bioweapons.

India currently faces that maximum number of dual use technology denial regimes, which are adhered by the United States' Department of Commerce, State Department and the Munitions Controller.

In addition to its restrictions in chemical and biological weapons, India faces restriction in one of the two categories in nuclear non-proliferation and missile technology and in both categories in the National Security and Regional Stability dual use technology regimes.

Researchers and regulators fear that lax security at laboratories, though not in India, have allowed potential select agents to fall into the hands of those who would use them for nefarious purposes.  For this reason, the dual use technology regimes are often tightly constrained.

The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States are believed to have stemmed from just such a situation as are the July 2007 terrorist attacks in central London and at Glasgow airport. In the latter, it is believed that NHS medical professionals were potentially involved.

As well as the restrictions, the recent attacks have also served as a wake-up call that screening of those who handle pathogens needs to be heightened.