Experts push for more comprehensive U.S. strategy on bioweapons

A pair of biosecurity experts recently criticized the Obama administration's lack of a clear policy to address the threat posed by biological weapons.

The Wilson Center's Katharine Diamond and former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Biodefense Policy for the Homeland Security Council Dr. Robert Kadlec wrote an analysis for the journal Arms Control Today that is critical of current policymaking and urges the president to make substantive changes, according to

"As the science and technical components behind biological weapons become ever more accessible to states, groups, and even individuals, it is crucial to have a strategy that keeps pace with the evolving risk," Diamond and Kadlec wrote, reports. "Experts, including current and former Obama administration officials, have sounded alarms that biological weapons pose a serious threat to the country, perhaps even greater than the one from nuclear weapons."

Despite Obama's protestations to the contrary, Diamond and Kadlec said that he has not followed through in developing the same type of rigorous policies with regards to biosecurity as he has with regards to nuclear security. Because scientific advancements and the technical components needed to create effective weapons become more accessible, the United States needs a strategy that can keep abreast of the evolving pattern of risks.

"Obama now must find the motivation and demonstrate the leadership to tackle the threat from biological weapons similarly and to advance bold ideas into the global debate about the risks these weapons pose," the authors wrote, reports.

Diamond and Kadlec said that the United States must do more to support the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, including the possible creation of a BWC treaty organization that is fully staffed and tasked with maintaining the treaty's relevance in the changing, modern world.

"The simple reality of biological weapons is that Obama cannot call for an end to biological threats the same way he called for an end to nuclear weapons," Diamond and Kadlec wrote, reports. "No one can outlaw or lock up pathogens; it is impossible to end their proliferation because their proliferation is a fact of nature. Addressing the risks that they pose is the only course.

"Providing clear leadership at home, harnessing the power of the life sciences community, and reinvigorating the international community will do just that."