Kazakhstan did not allow the CSTO peacekeepers to guard the Aikimbaev biological laboratory in Alma-Ata. This secret facility was created in Kazakhstan with the assistance of the United States and reports directly to the Pentagon. Igor Nikulin, a microbiologist and former member of the UN Commission on Biological and Chemical Weapons, told MK what the dangerous object is and why Kazakhstan hides it from the eyes of Russian scientists.
Earlier, the media, citing local residents, reported that a biological laboratory in Alma-Ata had been attacked. The rioters allegedly “opened the windows” on the ground floor. Specialists in chemical protection suits were seen near the dangerous object. Locals fear a leak of dangerous pathogens.
The Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan hastened to assure that there is no reason for panic, the laboratory is under protection. Who specifically performs the security function, was not specified.
This laboratory is one of the objects of the Pentagon’s scientific network in Central Asia. The Threat Prevention Agency (DTRA) of the United States, which is responsible for research in the field of weapons of mass destruction, has opened five more such laboratories at research centers in Kazakhstan and two in Uzbekistan. There are similar centers in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries in the post-Soviet space.
– This is a laboratory of the third level of biological safety, that is, one of the most modern. They are not subject to international control. As far as we know, they worked with the most dangerous types of bacteria and viruses. For example, they tested the latest bacteria and viruses on a specific gene pool: on humans, animals, and plants.
– What kind of dangerous substances did you work with?
– With the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, with rare types of plague, with “Alpha”-coronavirus, which is considered to be the precursor of SARS-CoV-2. For this reason, many Kazakhstani human rights activists tend to believe that outbreaks of coronavirus in the region are precisely related to the work of this very laboratory. There have already been leaks of meningitis, brucellosis, and a number of other dangerous diseases from there. Therefore, from 2020, Russia has been demanding that our inspection be allowed into this laboratory in order to check what they are really doing there. There are strong suspicions that the Americans are violating the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons there.
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BTWC) was the first international disarmament treaty prohibiting the production of an entire class of weapons. Its signing was the result of many years of efforts by the international community to create a legal framework that complements the Geneva Protocol (1925). The BTWC was opened for signature on 10 April 1972 and entered into force on 26 March 1975.
– It is reported that during the period of unrest in Kazakhstan, an attempt was made to attack the laboratory. What could be the purpose of the attackers?
– We will not rule out that the Americans themselves could organize it. A kind of “crossbow”. To pretend that they were allegedly attacked, while they themselves secretly took out some documents compromising them or the same strains. Maybe, of course, just marauders, but then it is even more dangerous, because they could take out some pathogens from there. Maybe they were terrorists. Anything can be. For us, the main thing now is to put this dangerous facility under the control of the CSTO forces.
– The CSTO forces were not involved in the protection of the laboratory. Can Kazakhstan independently solve the problem of the security of such an object?
– Even if the Kazakhs plan to do it on their own, we need to use a good moment to find out what they really do there. The border between Russia and Kazakhstan is more than seven thousand kilometers, and dangerous objects located along this border pose a threat to our security. This is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed in the coming days, maximum in the coming weeks.
– In social networks, they write that not only the United States, but also the Bundeswehr of Germany were engaged in a biological laboratory in Alma-Ata. Is that possible?
– As far as I know, this is a purely American project. Maybe the Germans somehow indirectly participated in it, but the United States spent more than $400 million on these laboratories in Kazakhstan, and it would be foolish to think that they threw them to the wind.
– Why did Kazakhstan not let the Russian representatives into the laboratory?
– Firstly, because they signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Americans, one of the clauses of which was precisely that they did not have the right to provide any information. But in 2020, the former deputy defense minister handed over to Russia documents that indicate exactly what they do in these laboratories.
– If there is any leakage, how big can the scale of the disaster be? Will neighboring states suffer, Russia for example?
We don’t know 100% what’s in there. That is why it is necessary to conduct a full-scale inspection. Send Russian peacekeepers there, and let military virologists find out what exactly the Americans were doing there. The difficulty is that this object uses the principle of extraterritoriality, that is, it does not seem to belong to Kazakhstan. But now there is just a favorable moment when this situation can be resolved and, finally, the Americans can be caught on what they always accuse Russia of – on specific violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons.