The Associated Press reports today (Nov 19) that the US “strongly suspects” Sudan of developing programs for biological weapons of mass destruction. Given the ample evidence that the Khartoum regime has already used chemical weapons against opposition forces in southern Blue Nile Province and elsewhere in southern Sudan, this is not surprising. And given Khartoum’s past and continuing support for international terrorism, such a biological weapons program would seem a natural extension of the regime’s behavior. But now the US State Department has publicly and explicitly declared its strong suspicions that Sudan is developing such weapons, and declared further that the US is “quite concerned.” The question, then, is what will the Bush administration do?
Eric Reeves [November 19, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Numerous reports from various locations in southern Sudan have been consistent with chemical weapons use; it is simply scandalous that there has been no international investigation of the very substantial evidence that has been available. Certainly the US is aware of this evidence, and indeed misguidedly bombed the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in August of 1998, suspecting that it was engaged in the manufacture of deadly VX nerve gas with Iraqi help.
But now the US State Department’s John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, has made known that the US “strongly suspects” Sudan of developing programs for biological weapons of mass destruction. The focus of his comments—reported by the Associated Press (November 19, 2001; excerpts attached), The Washington Post, and The New York Times—is understandably Iraq. But five other countries are designated, and Sudan is one of them.
How does this square with other statements emanating from the State Department, declaring that Sudan is being “cooperative” in the war on terrorism? And how can a nation be “cooperative” in this enterprise if it continues to give financial and logistical support to al-Qaeda and bin Laden? if its diplomatic resources are also still used by al-Qaeda? if it continues to be listed by the State Department as giving safe haven to al-Qaeda operatives? (Extensive documentation of Sudan’s continuing support for international terrorism is available from this source.)
The National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum is obviously not disclosing any details about its biological weapons development. This alone should provoke the question: what else is it that they are not disclosing? Further, how forthcoming can the regime be about terrorism when some of its most prominent members are clearly complicit in significant acts of terrorism? How likely is the regime to change its ways when it continues a campaign of aerial terror, directed against innocent civilians and humanitarian relief in southern Sudan?
Khartoum’s suspected involvement in developing biological weapons should also raise serious questions about the trustworthiness of the regime in negotiating peace in good faith with the people of southern Sudan. How likely is “good faith” on the part of a regime engaged in producing such secretive and insidiously destructive weapons?
Special Envoy John Danforth is reported to be pessimistic about the chances for peace in Sudan—and to have been surprised by the extent of the extreme destitution and disease in southern Sudan. Perhaps now he will do the appropriate homework, in the course of which he will learn that these realities have long been known to those who care about Sudan. Perhaps he can also do the requisite homework on the devastating consequences of oil development in southern Sudan, and come to understand fully its terrible contribution to the horrors he has so recently seen and heard about.
The problem of peace in Sudan is at once exceedingly complex and very, very simple. So long as Khartoum is not confronted for what it is—a brutal tyranny, a state sponsor of international terrorism, and very likely a developer of biological weapons of mass destruction—the regime will conclude that it pays no real price for its violations of international norms; it need only keep up a “cooperative” faade. So long as interest in oil development obscures an honest assessment of Khartoum by Canada and Europe, peace will be unattainable: the regime will remain convinced that it can use oil revenues to obtain the military means to effect a final solution to its “southern problem.” If Senator Danforth ignores the simple truths of Sudan’s peace process, he will be in no position to move it forward.
U.S. Accuses Rogue States of Developing Bio Weapons
By Alexander G. Higgins
Associated Press Writer
Monday, November 19, 2001; 7:55 AM
GENEVA — The United States identified Iraq and five other countries
Monday as states that are developing germ warfare programs but refused
to say whether any may have assisted Osama bin Laden in his quest for
John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, said the
existence of Iraq’s program is “beyond dispute” and that the United States
strongly suspects North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan of developing programs.
“The United States strongly suspects that Iraq has taken advantage of
three years of no U.N. inspections to improve all phases of its offensive
biological weapons program,” Bolton said. “The existence of Iraq’s program is beyond dispute.”
He said the United States believed North Korea had a dedicated,
national-level effort to achieve a biological weapons capability and that it
has “developed and produced, and may have weaponized” biological
He also said the United States was “quite concerned” about Iran, Libya,
Syria and Sudan, all of which appeared to have biological weapons