16:18 GMT05 December 2020
Listen Live
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL

    Last week, the US State Department revealed details about new sanctions against Russia over the Skripal poisoning affair, saying Moscow could avoid some of the measures if it allows inspectors into the country to make sure it's not developing or using chemical or biological weapons.

    Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, an independent Bulgarian investigative journalist who has written extensively on the Pentagon's alleged secret bioweapons program, has called Washington out for its apparent hypocrisy, posting a video of her being denied entrance to a suspected US biolab in the country of Georgia.

    "#US wants #Russia to give access to bioweapons inspectors. Why not bioweapons inspectors check the #Pentagon biolab in #Georgia as well?" she Tweeted, with an accompanying video said to have been shot outside an alleged lab facility in Tbilisi known as the Lugar Center.

    According to the journalist, she was denied access to certain zones of this laboratory, which were, in her words, "accessible only to US citizens with security clearance."

    After showing her identification papers, Gaytandzhieva was told that she could not enter the building. "If the facility is unclassified and non-military, why are representatives of the media not even allowed to come close to the building? What's really behind the walls of a building where one can see cars with US diplomatic plates? Who can check the activity of this American biological laboratory in Georgia?" the journalist said.

    Gaytandzhieva has reported on the Lugar Center, located about 17 km from the US Vaziani airbase in the Georgian capital, on multiple occasions. The journalist suspects that personnel from the US Army Medical Research Unit-Georgia as well as private contractors are engaged in a military program at the facility. The Biosafety level 3 lab, which allegedly involves work with microbes that can lead to serious or lethal diseases via inhalation, is accessible only to US citizens with security clearance who have been granted diplomatic immunity under the 2002 US-Georgia agreement on defense cooperation, according to Gaytandzhieva's research.

    US officials categorically denied the existence of a covert foreign-based US bioweapons program when pressed by Gaytandzhieva. In April, US Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Health Robert Kadlec assured the journalist that the US' foreign partner facilities are "not classified" and are "openly available to anyone who wants to look at them."

    US Demands Access to Russian Facilities

    Last week, after Washington announced new sanctions against Russia over the Skripal poisoning incident, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that Moscow could avoid a second, "draconian" round of restrictions by providing "reliable assurances" that it would not violate the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, including by allowing "on-site inspectors by United Nations observers or other internationally recognized impartial observers or other reliable means that exist to ensure that the government is not using chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law."

    The Russian Embassy called the "draconian" sanctions measures ridiculous, saying they were based on "far-fetched accusations" of Russian involvement in the Skripal incident. On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated the idea that the US establishing Russia's guilt for the Salisbury incident was a statement which "everyone who is even slightly familiar with" understands was an "absurdity." The foreign minister pointed out that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed the complete destruction of Russia's chemical weapons stockpiles.

    Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, southern England on March 4, 2018. The UK almost immediately accused Russia of culpability for the poisoning, prompting a diplomatic row between the two countries. UK labs have proved unable to trace the origins of the substance that poisoned the Skripals, but did determine that the poison used was novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, which the US and its allies have had access to since at least the late 1990s. Moscow, who destroyed the last of its Soviet-era chemical weapons stockpiles in 2017, has categorically denied all the allegations against it, and proposed a joint investigation into the case. Intrigue surrounding the Salisbury case has been magnified since the poisoning of a second couple in nearby Amesbury, as well as the Skripals' miraculous recovery in the months following the attack. The presence of a UK Defense Ministry chemical research facility in the vicinity of both Salisbury and Amesbury has only served to heighten the intrigue.


    US Urges Russia to Allow Chemical Weapons Inspections Amid Skripal Sanctions
    US Sanctions Five Entities Linked to Alleged Syrian Chemical Weapons Program
    Moscow Doubts Survival of Chemical Weapons Convention After OPCW Mandate Vote
    Daesh Seeks to Take Down Airplanes, Could Use Chemical Weapons - US Congressman
    OPCW Chief: Chemical Weapons Report on Syria to Be Released Within Week
    sites, foreign base, investigative journalism, reporter, chemical weapons, research, US military, Pentagon, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, US, Russia
    Community standardsDiscussion