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Biological weapons are disease causing bacteria, viruses, and naturally occurring toxins that could be harnessed to infect whole populations with lethal germs.
Under the terms of the Biological Warfare Convention, the United States is obligated, as are the other members of the Convention, to take necessary steps to prohibit and prevent development and production of biological warfare within its own borders.
This legislation proposes to meet that commitment by imposing tough criminal penalties upon those persons who knowingly develop any agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a biological
The bill also makes it a crime to knowingly assist foreign nations and terrorist in acquiring biological agents for use as weapons. Those who would violate the law would face heavy fines and the possibility of life imprisonment.
Mr. Chairman, the potential threat germ warfare poses for the future of our Nation and our world mandates that we consider legitimate efforts to deter production of these weapons.
Although this potential threat has been determined to be remote by some experts, biological weapons are potentially very powerful and could become deadly agents for terrorists.
In closing, the Federal Government has already taken steps to decrease the threat of biological warfare. The Department of Justice currently prosecutes cases involving the unlawful exporting of biological agents and the equipment related to germ warfare.
I believe legislation to assist them in their efforts against biological weapons should certainly be given serious consideration. For these reasons, I look forward to today's testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator KOHL. Thank you, Senator Thurmond.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR HOWARD M. METZENBAUM, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
Senator METZENBAUM. Mr. Chairman, I want to commend you for not only bringing this legislation to the committee and hopefully to the floor, but for your innovative thinking in doing so, and for your concern about a real problem.
It is an area in which if there were to be-if biological weapons were to be used and we then learned about them and found that there were not adequate laws covering the subject, we would all be saying to ourselves, "Well, why were there not"? Why did we not do something about it? Where was I"?
So I am happy to join with you as a cosponsor of this legislation, which I am not at the moment, but I ask that you would add my name to it, and, second, to congratulate you and tell you that I will be prepared to work with you in every way possible to pass the bill. I think you have assembled a very distinguished list of witnesses here today. I am only sorry that I cannot remain. I have a meeting of the Intelligence Committee, but I am prepared to help you in every way possible toward the passage of the legislation.
Senator KOHL. Thank you, Senator Metzenbaum. I appreciate your stopping by and I appreciate your encouragement and your support.
Senator METZENBAUM. Thank you.
Senator KOHL. Our first panel this afternoon consists of two leaders on the bioweapons issue in the House. Bob Kastenmeier, the Dean of my State's delegation and a friend of mine, is the sponsor of H.R. 237, which is almost identical to S. 993. Congressman Kastenmeier is the Chairman of Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Administration of Justice.
Bruce Morrison is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law, and that is where H.R. 237 has been referred. Congressman Morrison has taken a keen interest in the issue, partly because of his background in science. Gentlemen, thank you very much for taking the time to appear
Bob, would you like to lead off?
STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT KASTENMEIER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WISCONSIN; AND HON. BRUCE MORRISON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Obviously, I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear here today to testify on behalf of legislation to implement the Biological Weapons Convention. And I want to compliment you, my colleague from Wisconsin, Senator Kohl, for introducing S. 993, which is very similar to the legislation we have introduced in the House, H.R. 237.
Actually, I have been involved with the chemical biological warfare issue for about 30 years. In 1959, it was my resolution in the House, which at that time merely reaffirmed what we thought was our policy of no first use of chemical, biological or radio logical
Historically, the CBS series, as it was referred to in 1959, 1960, was important and while that resolution never passed, it achieved enough prominence as an issue so that President Eisenhower publicly reaffirmed his support of the first no first use policy for that field of weapons, and, of course, we have made very great strides in recent years. Certainly, three decades have passed since that initiative.
Progress has always been slow and thus, Mr. Chairman, I deeply appreciate your scheduling hearings on legislation to implement this Convention.
In 1969, President Nixon unilaterally renounced the use of biological weapons and pledged to destroy the existing U.S. stockpile.
In 1972, the Nixon administration endorsed the Biological Weapons Convention and by the time the Senate ratified the Convention in 1975, all the biological weapons in our possession had been destroyed.
The Biological Weapons Convention requires each signatory nation to take all measures necessary to prevent and prohibit within its territory under its jurisdiction or under its control anywhere the activities prohibited by the Convention.
Although 14 years have passed since the ratification of the Convention, the United States, however, has not yet passed legislation to accomplish this purpose. There presently are not Federal statutes that prohibit and provide penalties for the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, or retention of, one, biological agents or toxins of types and in quantities that have no justification for peaceful purposes and, two, weapons, equipment, and means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.
On two occasions the executive branch tried to have legislation enacted to implement the Convention. In 1973, a bill was introduced in the Congress, but it failed to receive consideration because of the delay in ratifying the Convention itself. Another effort was made in 1980, but time ran out with the congressional session.
The Reagan administration has held that extensive existing legislation controlled certain private actions concerning the items and actions prohibited by the Convention. Such legislation, it asserted, included the Arms Export Control Act, the Export Administration Act, Hazardous Material Transportation Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, the Public Health Service Act, the Federal Insecticide, Pesticide, and Rodenticide Act. But these existing laws are deficient in several main aspects since they do not cover biological agents and toxins described by the Convention in its various articles. Also, they fail to implement the Convention goal of eradicating all agents or toxins that have no peaceful purpose.
Simply stated, no statute exists for prohibiting citizens from making biological weapons. It is my understanding that the Bush administration, reflecting the President's stated support for banning biological weapons from the face of the earth, has indicated through officials of the Departments of State and Defense in testimony before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, that new legislation implementing the Convention may be useful and desirable.
Mr. Chairman, we are in an age of biotechnology revolution where genetic engineering has made it possible for the scientific community to design fundamental aspects of living organisms to make them produce beneficial products for society.
Legislation to implement the Convention will not interfere with the legitimate research and development and the commercial applications of new organisms.
Recently, I will say parenthetically, these have been accepted for purposes of patenting, which my colleague and I, through the last Congress, know something about in our own deliberations on a different side of it.
But there is a dark side to the biotechnology revolution and that is the ability to create an infinite variety of deadly microbes, toxins and other agents of biological mass destruction that has been made easier.
The technology makes it possible to produce miracle drugs, but it also makes it possible to create microorganisms that can cause deadly diseases for which no cures exists.
Biological weapons are abhorrent. The fear of the creation of doomsday bacterial or viral weapons use is equal to that associated with the nuclear holocaust.
We must do everything in our power to prevent the use of biological weapons. We have an international obligation to do so. The legislation to implement the Biological Warfare Convention will provide penalties for those who knowingly violate the activities prohibited by the Convention.
The Attorney General will at long last be given authority to seize and destroy biological agents, toxins, and weapons.
Mr. Chairman, I urge speedy and favorable action to approve the implementation legislation. Thank you.
[The statement of Mr. Kastenmeier follows:]
STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT W. KASTENMEIER OF WISCONSIN FOR SENATE
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear here today to testify on behalf of legislation to implement the Biological Weapons Convention, and I want to compliment you for introducing S. 993, which is very similar to the legislation, H.R. 237, which I have introduced in the
I have been involved with the chemical-biological warfare issue for about thirty years. Three decades have passed since I proposed a resolution on no first-use of biological weapons. Progress on the CBW issue has always been slow, and thus, Senator Kohl, I deeply appreciate your scheduling this hearing on the legislation to implement the Biological Warfare Convention.
In 1969, President Nixon unilaterally renounced the use of biological weapons and pledged to destroy the existing U.S. stockpile. In 1972, the Nixon administration endorsed the Biological Weapons Convention, and by the time the Senate ratified the Convention in 1975, all the biological weapons in our possession had been destroyed.
The Biological Weapons Convention requires each signatory to take all measures necessary to prevent and prohibit within its territory, under its jurisdiction or under its control anywhere, the activities prohibited by the Convention. Although fourteen years have passed since the ratification of the Convention, the United States, however, has not yet passed legislation to accomplish this purpose. There presently are no Federal statutes that prohibit and provide penalties for the development, production, stockpiling acquisition or retention of (1) biological agents or toxins of types and in quantities that have no justification for peaceful purposes and (2) weapons,