Clinton warns of terrorist bio-attacks
The infectious disease anthrax in a laboratory dish
December 7th, 2011
12:59 PM ET

Clinton warns of terrorist bio-attacks

By CNN's Elise Labott

A mass outbreak of disease caused by biological weapons could cripple the global economy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday, calling for greater international efforts to prevent terrorists from getting and using such devices.

"We view the risk of a bioweapons attack as both a serious national security challenge and a foreign policy priority," Clinton said at the 7th Review Conference of the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention. "In an age when people and diseases cross borders with growing ease, bioweapons are a transnational threat. We can only protect against them with transnational action."

While advances in science and technology make it possible to prevent and cure more diseases, they also can make it easier for states and nonstate actors - including terrorists - to develop biological weapons, Clinton noted.

" A crude but effective terrorist weapon can be made using a small sample of any number of widely available pathogens, inexpensive equipment, and college-level chemistry and biology," she said.

More work must be done to prevent states and, more importantly, terrorists from acquiring biological weapons, Clinton told the conference.

Efforts by terrorists to acquire bioweapons are growing, she said, citing evidence found by NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2001 that al Qaeda was seeking the ability to conduct bioweapons attacks, as well as a call to arms last year by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for "brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry ... to develop a weapon of mass destruction."

She called for renewed efforts to prevent outbreaks and attacks and develop responses for when they do occur, pointing to the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States that killed five people and forced more than 10,000 people to be put on antibiotics.

In an era of globalization, Clinton noted, a victim of an attack or someone suffering from a disease like the H1N1 swine flu could easily travel and spread the illness worldwide, causing a mass outbreak that could cripple an already fragile global economy by cutting off the movement of people and goods and sparking food shortages.

Clinton also called for increased reporting and transparency by countries to guard against the misuse of biological materials, as well as improved international coordination and strengthening public health systems to detect and respond to outbreaks.

"We must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger - whether it's a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease," she said.

The United States also wants to find ways to maximize the benefits of scientific research while minimizing the risks, Clinton said.

For example, she said genetic research shows great promise but could also potentially be used to assemble the components of a deadly organism.

soundoff (17 Responses)
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  5. Arnulfo Ladas

    During the mid-20th century, identification of influenza subtypes became possible, allowing accurate diagnosis of transmission to humans. Since then, only 50 such transmissions have been confirmed. These strains of swine flu rarely pass from human to human. ,-^`

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    July 6, 2013 at 1:49 am | Reply
  6. Ben

    Expect a false flag attack, this article seems too funny...

    December 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  7. Joshua Lopez

    It's A Cause For Alarm. These bunch of Barbarians continue to cause International Threat In The Name Of Islam!

    December 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  8. Beerandshills

    enough about anthrax, WE WANT ZOMBIES!

    December 8, 2011 at 10:32 am | Reply
  9. michaelfury

    December 8, 2011 at 7:53 am | Reply
  10. michaelfury

    December 8, 2011 at 7:50 am | Reply
  11. TheNext911

    So, Mrs. Clinton, why don't you just write an open letter to the terrorists as follows:

    Dear Future Osama Bin Ladens;
    If you really want to kill Americans, get 20 of you rmost loyal jihadists, infect them with this really nasty funk, then send them to the largest 20 cities (all in different cities) in the USA. They can go around to crowded areas, coughing and wiping spit and slava all over hand rails on buses, door knobs, and escalator handrails until they crumple into a corner croak. This will sufficiently infect a large number of Americans who will then pass it on to other people in rapid succession. For best results, use a different funk for each jihadist in the various cities to maximize the damage, panic and confusion.


    Mrs. Secretary of State.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
    • Bob1

      The terrorists already know this based on intelligence gathered over the years. So,what she's stating isn't anything new. In fact, the facts are a bit more startling and concerning than what this article aludes too.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Reply
      • Unnikrishnan

        I love New York. I was sad, depressed and icnbedirly moved by our fellow countrymen and what they've done. I wanted to give people a chance to see something funny, have a distraction.

        July 1, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  12. IThinkImMe

    Something tells me she had just watched Contagion before saying this. More Red Scare tactics coming from Washington. Make the plebians live in fear.

    December 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  13. Thiago

    And them we have a scients developing a super mortal virus.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply

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