Leaked cables warn of biothreat to India

A series of recently leaked news cables from the U.S. Embassy reported that a bioterror attack in India could be devastating and that the Indian government is slowly taking steps to prepare for such an event.

The cables, which are dated Thursday, June 8, 2006, are titled “India Behind on Bioterror Preparations But Taking Some Steps,” The Guardian reports.

The summary of the news cables says that since likelihood of a bioterror attack is so low, it does not have a high priority in the government of India, though the possibility of an attack cannot be ruled out.

“Advances in the biotech sector and shifting terrorist tactics that focus on disrupting India’s social cohesion and economic prosperity oblige the government of India to look at the possibility of terror groups using biological agents as weapons of mass destruction and economic and social disruption,” the cables read, according to The Guardian. “The impact of a biological attack or the accidental release of a disease-causing agent in India could be devastating, given the high population density in Indian cities and the growing mobility of India’s middle class.”

The wire also said that the government was not prepared for such a bioterrorism threat and that preparation for such was a third-tier priority at best. According to the government of India, most terrorist groups in the country are not focused on biological weapons for attacks, The Guardian reports.

Some preparations, however, are being made. A manual on standard operating procedures for a bioterrorism attack response was in the process of being created with no known timeline when the cables were issued.