The United States government is expanding a 20-year-old program to secure and help destroy Cold War-era nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to an unlikely area of the world —East Africa, according to an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’s weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, Glenn Hess, C&EN Senior Editor, explains that the focus of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) does not stem from any new intelligence indicating that Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have secretly developed nuclear weapons. Rather, it is part of a realization that some of the world’s deadliest diseases — Ebola, Marburg and Rift Valley Fever viruses — occur naturally in Africa, a volatile area where political instability raises concerns about terrorist use of those deadly microbes.
The article describes how CTR, which began in the former Soviet Union, now, is being expanded to confront the threat of bioterrorism in other regions of the world. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who co-sponsored legislation creating CTR in 1991, last fall visited Kenya and Uganda. “Just one of the deadly viruses I witnessed could, if in the wrong hands, cause death and economic chaos,” he said.