U.S. intelligence warned lawmakers that Russia may be skirting its commitment to eliminate its chemical and biological weapons arsenal and doing little to prevent the export of weapons technology.
The CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency told lawmakers in newly released written responses to questions that the basic building blocks of the former Soviet Union's chemical and biological weapons capability are being maintained by Moscow.In addition, the intelligence agencies said certain elements of the Russian government may be seeking to circumvent arms control agreements that limit development of new chemical and biological weapons.
"Key components of the former Soviet biological warfare program remain largely intact and may support a possible future mobilization capability for the production of biological agents and delivery systems," the DIA reported in its written responses to questions posed by the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Moreover, work outside the scope of legitimate biological defense activity may be occurring now at selected facilities within Russia."
If that activity is geared toward developing offensive biological weapons, the DIA said, Russia would be violating the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
The CIA cited evidence from Russian "whistleblowers" who have "alleged that Moscow is hiding a program designed to ensure a continuing offensive chemical weapons capability despite arms control commitments," including the Chemical Weapons Convention, which took effect in 1995. Some of these allegations have long been publicly aired, but the CIA cited other unspecified evidence corroborating the charges.
"These allegations, when combined with other information, give rise to concerns that at least some factions within the Russian government desire to circumvent the Chemical Weapons Convention," the CIA concluded.
The CIA said some biological weapons facilities have been deactivated in recent years but that other facilities remain able to produce biological weapons.
"We cannot establish that Russia has given up this capability and remain concerned that some of the individuals involved in the old Soviet program may be trying to protect elements of it," the CIA said.