Feeds

US Army goes shopping for anthrax

Would you like that giftwrapped?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The US Army has asked companies to bid for contracts to produce large quantities of anthrax and equipment to produce other unnamed biological agents, according to New Scientist, but has not said what it needs the facilities for.

Alan Pearson, programme director for biological and chemical weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington DC, says the contracts raise serious questions about the US' commitment to the Biological Weapons Convention.

Anti-biological weapons campaigner Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project discovered the contracts, which were issued this year.

One contract specifies: "The company must have the ability and be willing to grow Bacillus anthracis Sterne strain at 1500-litre quantities." Others call for a 3,000-litre production capacity for unnamed biological agents and sheep carcasses to investigate incineration of infected animals.

The non-virulent Sterne strain of the bacterium is the only one specified in any of the documents. It is not thought to be harmful to humans, and is used in vaccination. However, the same equipment could easily be put to use to grow spores of the lethal Ames strain, and it is this that has raised eyebrows.

Speaking to New Scientist, Hammond asked: "What would happen to the Biological Weapons Convention if other countries followed suit and built large biological production facilities at secretive military bases known for weapons testing?"

The tenders were issued by the US army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Dugway maintains that the contracts are still at the "pre-solicitation" phase, and that there is currently no Anthrax at the base.

Dugway has refused to elaborate on what it needs the anthrax for, and although there is no suggestion that the US intends to restart its biological weapons programme, Hammond argues that the military might want to use the agent to test biological weapons delivery systems, for threat assessment. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.