Citing the “war” on terror is a useful catchall for the U.S. government to do anything distasteful that it desires, even in defiance of the rest of the world, it seems. Betsy McKay reports for the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. and Russia will fight international efforts this week to set a deadline to destroy the last known stocks of smallpox, saying the deadly virus is needed for research to combat bioterrorism.
Members of the World Health Organization meet on Wednesday to begin debating the future of what is left of what was one of the world’s most lethal viruses before it was eradicated more than 30 years ago: samples kept in tightly guarded freezers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and a Russian government lab near Novosibirsk.
The U.S. says it needs to maintain the virus samples to develop new drugs and vaccines to counter a potential bioterror attack or accidental release of smallpox from an unsanctioned stock. “Our position is that we need to have the virus collections maintained for the foreseeable future,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter.
Russia also believes the virus should be kept for research and is likely to concur with the U.S. position, said Vladimir Starodubov, an official in the Russian delegation to the WHO executive board.
But Washington and Moscow must win over other governments and public-health officials who fear the virus could be stolen or unleashed by accident…
[continues in the Wall Street Journal]