TWO laboratories linked to Chinese bio-warfare program based in Wuhan

TWO laboratories linked to Chinese bio-warfare program based in Wuhan

Virus-hit
Wuhan has two 


laboratories linked to 


Chinese bio-warfare program


Virology
institute there has China’s only secure lab for studying deadly
viruses


WashingtonTimes,

24
January, 2020

The
deadly animal virus epidemic spreading globally may have originated
in a

Wuhan
laboratory linked to 
China’s
covert biological weapons program, according to an Israeli biological
warfare expert.



Radio
Free Asia
 this
week rebroadcast a local Wuhan television report from 2015
showing 
China’s
most advanced virus research laboratory known the 
Wuhan
Institute of Virology
Radio
Free Asia
 reported.



The
laboratory is the only declared site in 
China capable
of working with deadly viruses.



Dany
Shoham
,
a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied
Chinese bio warfare, said the 
institute is
linked to Beijing’s covert biological weapons program.



Certain
laboratories in the 
institute have
probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in
Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a
principal facility of the Chinese BW alignment,” Mr. 
Shoham told
The Washington Times.

Work
on biological weapons is conducted as part of a dual
civilian-military research and is “definitely covert,” he said in
an email.



Mr. Shoham holds
a doctorate in medical microbiology. From 1970 to 1991 he was a
senior analyst with Israeli military intelligence for biological and
chemical warfare in the Middle East and worldwide, holding the rank
of lieutenant colonel.

China in
the past has denied having any offensive biological weapons. The
State Department, in a report last year, said it suspects 
China has
engaged in covert biological warfare work.



A
Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.


Chinese
authorities so far have said the origin of the coronavirus that has
killed scores and infected hundreds in in central Hubei Province is
not known.



Gao
Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and
Prevention, told state-controlled media initial signs as of Thursday
indicated the virus originated from wild animals sold at a seafood
market in Wuhan.



One
ominous sign, said a U.S. official, is the that false rumors since
the outbreak began several weeks ago have begun circulating on the
Chinese Internet claiming the virus is part of a U.S. conspiracy to
spread germ weapons.



That
could indicate 
China is
preparing propaganda outlets to counter future charges the new virus
escaped from one of Wuhan’s civilian or defense research
laboratories.



The
World Health Organization is calling the microbe novel coronavirus
2019-nCoV. At a meeting in Geneva Thursday, the organization stopped
short of declaring a Public Health Emergency of International
Concern.



The
virus outbreak causes pneumonia-like symptoms and prompted 
China to
deploy military forces to Wuhan this week in a bid to halt the
spread. All travel out of the city of 11 million people was halted.



The Wuhan
institute
 has
studied coronaviruses in the past, including the including the strain
that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, H5N1
influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue. Researchers at
the 
institute also
studied the germ that causes anthrax – a biological agent once
developed in Russia.



Coronaviruses
(particularly SARS) have been studied in the 
institute and
are probably held therein,” he said. “SARS is included within the
Chinese BW program, at large, and is dealt with in several pertinent
facilities.”



It
is not known if the 
institute’s
array of coronaviruses are specifically included in biological
weapons program but it is possible, he said.



Asked
if the new coronavirus may have leaked, Mr. 
Shoham said:
“In principle, outward virus infiltration might take place either
as leakage or as an indoor unnoticed infection of a person that
normally went out of the concerned facility. 


This could have been the
case with the 
Wuhan
Institute of Virology
,
but so far there isn’t evidence or indication for such incident.”



After
researchers sequence of the genome of the new coronavirus it might be
possible to determine or suggest its origin or source.



Mr. Shoham,
now with the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan
University in Israel, said the 
virology
institute
 is
the only declared site in 
China known
as P4 for Pathogen Level 4, a status indicating it uses the strictest
safety standards to prevent the spread of the most dangerous and
exotic microbes being studied.



The
former Israeli military intelligence doctor also said suspicions were
raised about the 
Wuhan
Institute of Virology
 when
a group of Chinese virologists working in Canada improperly sent
samples to 
China of
what he said were some of the deadliest viruses on earth, including
the Ebola virus.



In
a July article in the 
journal
Institute
 for
Defence Studies and Analyses, Mr. 
Shoham said
the 
Wuhan
institute
 was
one of four Chinese laboratories engaged in some aspects of the
biological weapons development.



He
identified the secure Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory at
the 
institute as
engaged in research on the Ebola, Nipah, and Crimean-Congo
hemorrhagic fever viruses.



The
Wuhan virology institute is under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
But certain laboratories within it “have linkage with the PLA or
BW-related elements within the Chinese defense establishment,” he
said.



In
1993, 
China declared
a second facility, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, as one
of eight biological warfare research facilities covered by the
Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) which 
Chinajoined
in 1985.



The
Wuhan Institute of Biological Products is a civilian facility but is
linked to the Chinese defense establishment, and has been regarded to
be involved in the Chinese BW program, Mr. 
Shoham said.



China’s
vaccine against SARS is probably produced there.



This
means the SARS virus is held and propagated there, but it is not a
new coronavirus, unless the wild type has been modified, which is not
known and cannot be speculated at the moment,” he said.



The
annual State Department report on arms treaty compliance stated last
year that 
China engaged
in activities that could support biological warfare.

Information
indicates that the People’s Republic of China engaged during the
reporting period in biological activities with potential dual-use
applications, which raises concerns regarding its compliance with the
BWC,” the report said, adding that the United States
suspects 
China failed
to eliminate its biological warfare program as required by the
treaty.



The
United States has compliance concerns with respect to Chinese
military medical institutions’ toxin research and development
because of the potential dual-use applications and their potential as
a biological threat,” the report added.



The
biosafety lab is located about 20 miles from the Hunan Seaford Market
that reports from 
China say
may have been origin point of the virus.



Rutgers
University microbiologist Dr. Richard Ebright told London’s Daily
Mail that “at this point there’s no reason to harbor suspicions”
the lab may be linked to the virus outbreak.

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