Feeds

US Army goes shopping for anthrax

Would you like that giftwrapped?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.