U.S. denies report of requesting Taiwan to produce bio-weapons
Washington, July 11 (CNA) The U.S. State Department on Tuesday denied a recent Taiwanese report that the United States asked Taiwan to develop weaponized biological agents.
"There is no truth to this report," a spokesperson at the State Department said in a statement in reply to a question from CNA.
"The United States is in full compliance with its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and does not develop or possess such weapons anywhere -- nor do we support anyone else to do so," the spokesperson said.
The U.S. State Department has posted on its website that the BWC, which took effect in 1975, is "critical to international efforts to address the threat posed by biological weapons... To remain effective, it must deal with all biological threats we face in the 21st century."
The rebuttal from Washington came after the Chinese-language United Daily News (UDN) reported Sunday that the U.S. requested the National Defense Medical Center under Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) to secretly develop the ability to research and develop viruses for use in the production of bio-weapons.
The paper cited what it said were the minutes of a secret meeting held by the government on June 23, 2022, which it said was held along with another secret meeting in January 2023 that address the issue among many others.
In the Sunday report, the UDN did not disclose how it got the meeting minutes, but it said the minutes cited an MND representative as saying the ministry had completed preliminary plans to build a new Biosafety Level 4 (P4) laboratory to handle the development of bio-weapons as requested by the U.S.
On Wednesday, the UDN published the meeting minutes on its website and said it received the minutes from "a reader/readers," but it did not qualify the source/sources.
In response, Taiwan's Presidential Office and Executive Yuan on Wednesday denied that the meetings ever took place and questioned the authenticity of the minutes of the meeting.
Presidential Office spokeswoman Olivia Lin (林聿禪) called the minutes released by the UDN "fabricated documents" and said the minutes were "full of holes" and the format, style and word choices of the minutes are not the same as those commonly seen in Cabinet meeting minutes.
For example, the use of "our party" in the minutes is not something that would be seen in Cabinet meeting minutes, Cabinet spokesman Lin Tze-luen (林子倫) said Wednesday.
The Ministry of National Defense also released a statement Wednesday, saying that the parts attributed to the MND in the minutes of the meeting used Chinese-language terms for things like tanks and ammunition that the MND would not use.
The Presidential Office and Cabinet spokespeople alleged that China could be the source of the documents, saying that China has a record of spreading disinformation through "forged official documents."
They criticized the UDN for failing to verify the information it gathered and demanded that the newspaper issue a correction immediately.
On Sunday, the MND issued a statement denying that the P4 lab was to be used to develop bio-weapons.
The MND said the mission of the medical center was to detect, protect and treat pathogens of infectious diseases and that it also develops reagents that can detect bio-agents to strengthen Taiwan's ability to detect biological weapons.
The MND said its development of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare readiness has been built around defense, and that the center's planned P4 lab was designed with the purpose of detection, protection and treatment.
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