Pentagon not developing biological weapons in Kazakhstan

The Central Reference Laboratory in Kazakhstan said on Thursday that the facility will study highly infectious diseases, and not make biological weapons for the United States.

Director of the Kazakh Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases Bakhyt Atshabar said the speculation and rumors that the center would develop biological weapons were groundless.

"There will be no development of biological weapons," Atshabar said.

Atshabar said the facility, which is under construction in the largest city of Kazakhstan, would have increased security surveillance. He said the building would be able to withstand a 9-magnitude earthquake.

U.S. involvement in the planning and construction of the center was vital to financing and setting up the facility. Kazakhstani officials and scientists did not have experience setting up similar facilities in compliance with international standards.

The new center will be operated by the Kazakh Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases and funded by the Pentagon.

The lab will be used to isolate and study dangerous pathogens like plague, cholera, hemorrhagic fever and many others. Research is directed toward finding cures, treatments and protections against infectious diseases. The Ministry of Healthcare of Kazakhstan will manage the center, which is expected to start operation in 2015.