U.S. warns of development of bioweapons by terrorist groups

The United States recently warned that the threat of terrorist groups developing or using biological weapons is growing.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for greater international cooperation and for countries to strengthen their ability to detect and respond to suspicious disease outbreaks that could be caused by pathogens that have fallen into the wrong hands, according to Reuters.

"Unfortunately the ability of terrorists and other non-state actors to develop and use these weapons is growing. Therefore this must be a renewed focus of our efforts," Clinton said, Reuters reports. "Because there are warning signs and they are too serious to ignore."

Clinton said that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has urged those with degrees in microbiology and chemistry to develop a weapon of mass destruction for use against the West. She also said that a weapon could be made without the need for highly trained experts. A small sample of widely available pathogens, inexpensive equipment, and college-level biology or chemistry would be sufficient.

The secretary made the statements while addressing a global conference held every five years in Geneva to review the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention.

The United States currently sees no need to negotiate a verification regime as it would be far too difficult to detect biological material and much research can serve dual purposes.

"False verification is worse than no verification, in the sense that it gives you this sense of security that is not warranted," an anonymous U.S. official said, Reuters reports.