By Janet Phelan
The founders of the United Nations would be heaving convulsively in their graves. A vision, forged out of the carnage of WWII for a world at peace, a world where disputes could be solved by dialogue and diplomacy rather than by bombs, has apparently succumbed to the duplicity of its moving party.
When US President Franklin Roosevelt drafted the initial Declaration of the United Nations in 1941, he penned a document that was a rallying cry for the Allies, in the face of what he termed “savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world.” The document boldly stated that “complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands…”
In the intervening seventy plus years, the UN has grown in scope and in reach, with divisions and treaty bodies to address trade, commerce, health, communications, human rights, disarmament, food security, refugees, education and more. It now employs over 44,000 people in offices and satellites across the globe.
However, the primary vision of the UN has been subverted by the actions of the leader of the free world. For the US is now actively misleading the UN as to the true nature of her activities.
US Lies about Human Rights
In an earlier article, the attempts by the US to create a false perception to the world human rights community were discussed relevant to specific official statements made by US authorities during the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Record (UPR) of the United States, a cyclical review process held at the UN in Geneva. At the convening of the most recent review in 2015, US officials were found to repeatedly and substantially tweak pivotal statistics and reports in order to cast a false (and benevolent) light upon activities which were uncomfortably redolent of human rights deprivations rather than successes.
Now, we come to assess the truthfulness of the US’s reports to the pivotally important UN 1540 Committee. As in reports on her human rights activities, the US has omitted or falsified critical information in her multiple reports to this body.
The 1540 Committee was established as part of the UN Security Council’s 1540 Resolution, which attempts to address proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The 1540 Resolution, which was unanimously adopted on April 28, 2004, calls upon state parties to take several levels of action in order to halt proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. In this article, we will primarily be looking at the US’s compliance with non-proliferation of chemical and biological weapons.
Biological Weapons Lies
Much has already been written about the efforts by the US State Department to lead the Biological Weapons Convention around by its nose. In 2001, just months before the anthrax attacks of September, the US delegation boycotted the efforts by an ad hoc committee to develop a verification protocol for the BWC. Due to this, the BWC remains with no way to verify compliance by its member parties and no real way to assure that violations can be reported and dealt with.
In other words, the BWC is a whole lot of words, blowin’ in the wind.
Rather than any externally verifiable reporting mechanisms, the BWC now relies on “Confidence Building Measures,” wherein each state must faithfully self-report to the Convention at large its activities surrounding bioweapons, including any changes in legislation or any stockpiles. It was confirmed by US Department of State delegate Chris Park in 2011 that the US simply “forgot” to inform the Convention that the Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute, passed into law as part of the USA PATRIOT Act, gave the US government immunity from violating its own bioweapons laws.
Of equal concern is that the US has actively lied to the BWC. In addition, top UN Disarmament Affairs officials have refused to accept documentation that the US has launched a covert delivery system.
In looking at the US’s reports to the 1540 Committee, we find a similar pattern of omissions and outright falsehoods. Nowhere in the US’s 1540 National Reports is any mention of the aforementioned legislation, passed in the wake of September 11, giving the US government immunity from violation its own bioweapons laws. Rather, the US’s initial 1540 Report, filed in 2004, claims:
In accordance with its obligations under several international agreements, the United States has enacted national implementing statutes, which prohibit the illegal possession or transfer of such weapons. In addition,conspiracies, attempts, or threats to use such weapons are also proscribed.
Getting down to the basics of biological weapons prohibitions, the US goes on to assure the UN 1540 Committee that:
Under U.S. law, a person may not develop, produce,stockpile, transfer, acquire, retain, or possess any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assist a foreign state or organization to do so.
Actually, the US law states that the US government is exempt from these prohibitions.
Since the above cited report was filed in 2004, the US has made no attempts to correct the misperception engendered by these statements. In fact, in the National Report filed in 2013, the US baldly stated that:
The United States remains deeply engaged in compliance and assistance activities in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).
Pursuant to terms agreed upon under the Convention, the United States continues to file reports of confidence-building measures with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. (Emphasis added)
As Chris Park admitted, the US has in fact filed incomplete and therefore misleading reports.
Biological Weapons Labs — Leaks or?
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The National Reports filed with the UN 1540 Committee detail some of the other efforts made by the US to advance the mandates of the 1540 Resolution. One of these efforts involves the establishment of labs, worldwide, in concert with the DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency). Over 40 such labs, scattered across the globe, have connections with the DTRA. The National Report states:
The DTRA Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) works with HHS, CDC and the NIH to counter threats of State and non-State actors acquiring biological materials and expertise that could be used to develop or deploy a biological weapon. The programme destroys or secures especially dangerous pathogens at their source and builds partner capacity to sustain a safe, secure disease surveillance system to detect, diagnose and report outbreaks and to work collaboratively with partner country scientists in engagements that support the ethical application of biotechnology to a better understanding of endemic especially dangerous pathogens and their control/prevention.
According to Sputnik News,
In 2013 in Ukraine alone…. the US created laboratories in Vinnytsia, Ternopil, Uzhhorod, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Simferopol, Kherson, Lviv and Lugansk.
The Russian government has expressed unease about the location of some of these labs. Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev has repeatedly pointed out that many of these labs are snuggled up against Russia’s borders. In a recent speech to the elite academic institution, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s concerns about the US’s biological weapons activities were laid out clearly.
As reported in Strategic Culture,
In his remarks Lavrov said Russia is concerned over the US refusal to negotiate monitoring of biological weapons. According to him, the refusal leads to the conclusion that the US may be involved in biological research for military purposes. This is not the first time Russia expressed its concern over the US covert activities conducted in violation of international law.
Chemical Weapons Lies
The US’s official admissions relevant to her compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention follow a similar path of studied legalistic omissions. Unlike the BWC, however, the CWC requires that the member states destroy their chemical weapons. According to the mandates of the treaty, which went into force in April of 1997, countries possessing chemical weapons were given a deadline of 2007 to destroy their weapons.
The US did not meet the deadline. An extension was then given until 2012, and again the US had not destroyed her stockpile of CW. Also declaring non-destruction of all stockpiles were Libya and Russia. As now proposed, the US will have until 2023 to accomplish this.
Questions are now being raised as to the nature of the US’s domestic chemical weapons legislation and the implications thereof. Akin to the cited concerns about her biological weapons legislation, it appears that the US has given herself a giant sized loophole through which the US or her agents do not need to comply with her own prohibitions against chemical weapons.
Title 18 Section 229—Prohibited Activities—reads thus:
(a)Unlawful Conduct.—Except as provided in subsection (b), it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly—
(1) to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, transfer directly or indirectly, receive, stockpile, retain, own, possess, or use, or threaten to use, any chemical weapon; or
(2) to assist or induce, in any way, any person to violate paragraph (1), or to attempt or conspire to violate paragraph (1)
All well and good. However, as we have seen in Title 18 Section 175 (wherein the 817 PATRIOT Act is codified), the devil is usually in the exemptions; that is, who is permitted to violate these laws. And as in the biological weapons prohibitions, we find that the exemptions have left enormous latitude for the US and her agents to violate:
(2)Exempted persons.—A person referred to in paragraph (1) is—
(A) any person, including a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, who is authorized by law or by an appropriate officer of the United States to retain, own, possess, transfer, or receive the chemical weapon; or
(B) in an emergency situation, any otherwise nonculpable person if the person is attempting to destroy or seize the weapon.
In other words, not only may the US military possess and transfer these weapons of mass destruction, but so can anyone who is attempting to “destroy or seize” the weapon. If this subsection had been written as “destroy AND seize,” it might have had a few teeth. But by using the conjunction “OR,” the verbiage in this supposedly protective piece of legislation permits ANYONE trying to get their hands on the weapon to do so! As “nonculpable” is not defined in the legislation, this word remains void of meaning.
It should also be noted that law enforcement is also exempt from the prohibitions, as stated in 229 F.
To sum up, we have no domestic legal protections from these weapons should our government use them against us. In fact, a Syrian chemical weapons victim would have more possibility of redress than one in the US.
In the process of researching this article, this reporter made email contact with the US National Contact for the 1540 Committee, Craig Finkelstein. When no reply was received, I followed up with a phone call. Upon learning that it was I who called him, Mr. Finkelstein immediately disconnected the call. The fact that Mr. Finkelstein is the “Transparency and Media Outreach” Coordinator for the 1540 Committee only ramps up further questions about what the US is up to here.
This article has focused on the BW and CW aspects of US compliance with UN Resolution 1540, which covers CBRN weapons. It is worth noting that, over seventy years since Hiroshima, the world still does not have a nuclear weapons ban. In July of this year, such a ban—the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons—was passed at the United Nations and will come into effect when signed by at least fifty nations. Of disturbing note is that all the nuclear states and all NATO nations (excluding the Netherlands) withheld their vote on the text of the ban.
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking , EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad.