Terror attacks underscore need to thwart threat of biological weapons, Annan says

Terror attacks underscore need to thwart threat of biological weapons, Annan says

In the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks, the task of preventing the threat of biological weapons and implementing a key treaty banning such arms has taken on special importance, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

In a message to the Fifth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, the Secretary-General said that the renewed global focus on terrorism had brought concerns about biological and toxin weapons to the fore. He also urged the meeting in Geneva to overcome any differences in an effort to fully implement the treaty.

"Missing this opportunity, given difficulties in negotiations on other weapons of mass destruction, would only exacerbate the current crisis in multilateral disarmament diplomacy in general," Mr. Annan said in a message delivered on his behalf by UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala.

Speaking later at a press conference, Mr. Dhanapala said that the recent anthrax attacks in the United States made it even more urgent for countries to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention in a bid to prevent such incidents.

Seventy-two delegations, or half of the State Parties to the Convention, attended the opening of the three-week conference.