The United States said Wednesday that it remained opposed to international inspections of biological weapon sites, even though it stressed its commitment to a UN treaty covering such arms and invaded Iraq in part over its alleged stalling of -- UN weapons inspectors.
"When it comes to the proliferation of bio weapons and the risk of an attack, the world community faces a greater threat," Ellen Tauscher, US Under Secretary of State on arms control and international security told state members of the Biological Weapons Convention.
"While the United States remains concerned about state-sponsored biological warfare and proliferation, we are equally, if not more concerned, about an act of bioterrorism, due to the increased access to advances in the life sciences," she added, stressing the importance of bolstering the treaty.
However, the new US administration is still against an additional protocol that would authorize international inspections of biological weapons sites.
"The Obama Administration will not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the Convention," said Tauscher.
"We have carefully reviewed previous efforts to develop a verification protocol and have determined that a legally binding protocol would not achieve meaningful verification or greater security," she added.
At BWC talks in 2001, the Bush administration scuttled negotiations for such a protocol, saying that intrusive checks could compromise US security and trade secrets.
Outlining the new US administration's strategy on the issue, Tauscher said Washington believed that compliance to the treaty could be encouraged through "enhanced transparency... and pursuing compliance diplomacy to address concerns."
The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, signed by 163 countries, bans the development, production and reserves of biological weapons.