Former Kazakhstan MoD Tugusov suspects new laboratory has military purpose

The announcement of Almaty's new Central Reference Laboratory has the former Deputy Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan Amirbek Togusov skeptical about the purpose of the laboratory and the U.S. presence in the nation.

Almaty's Central Reference Laboratory is currently under construction and expects to be completed in 2015. It will use the Kazakh Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases as a foundation and is being funded by the U.S., which raises suspicion in Togusov, who said that the laboratory likely has military purposes, Tengri News reports.

"Any lab, especially the one with such a technical base, always has a dual purpose - both military and civil," Togusov said, according to Tengri News.

Togusov said the laboratory may be used for the development of biological weapons because of Kazakhstan's central location. He said the development of the laboratory, with sole funding coming from the U.S., is suspicious.

"If it was funded by an international organization, then there would have been at least some way to control the developments as well as a mutual, collective responsibility," Togusov said, Tengri News reports. "Besides, why is it the United States? Why not some European country? Why not the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the Collective Security Treaty Organization? The one who pays dictates the terms."

Despite Togusov's claims, the Kazakhstan National Committee of Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of the Healthcare Ministry of Kazakhstan affirmed the impossibility of producing biological weapons at the lab because biological weapons require the production of genetically modified microorganisms, for which the laboratory does not have the capabilities.

"The Central Reference Laboratory can't be used for development of bacteriological weapons, because the project does not have the capacities for synthesizing genetically modified microorganisms," the Kazakhstan National Committee said, Tengri News reports.