Stoltenberg: NATO to Step up its Defense against biological weapons

Stoltenberg: NATO to Step up its Defense against biological weapons

Given the fatal consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, NATO intends to intensify its efforts against potential future attacks conducted via biological weapons.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) seeks to step up its efforts against biological weapons. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the coronavirus was not a laboratory-created virus, but it showed the perils that exist connected with biological warfare agents. One needed, therefore, to strengthen the defense against the threat.

Accordingly, NATO is already in the process of improving the exchange of intelligence information in order to prevent possible attacks with biological weapons. “These weapons, such as chemical weapons, are banned under international law, but we have to be prepared for their use because we know that these weapons are still around,” said Stoltenberg.

Moreover, Stoltenberg did not rule out the possibility that a widespread bioweapons attack with hundreds of thousands of deaths could likely result in retaliatory attacks with conventional or nuclear weapons.

“NATO has no banned weapons, but we have a range of capabilities to respond appropriately,” he said. If Article 5 for collective defense were triggered after a biological attack, NATO could utilize all of these capabilities.

In addition to smallpox and anthrax pathogens, influenza and coronaviruses have also been considered possible biological weapons for years. Particularly as researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that viruses can be artificially made more harmful in the laboratory.

The background for such experiments are efforts to be better prepared for the consequences of natural virus mutations. At the same time, however, they also show what consequences it could have if, for example, terrorists were to gain access to such capabilities.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres had already warned of the dangers of terrorist attacks with biological weapons. The pandemic had shown that preparations for the disaster might not be enough, he said in July. He also called for the Biological Weapons Convention to be strengthened.

With a view to the current corona pandemic, Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO was still ready to help. “NATO and the military could assist in distributing the vaccines.” The NATO Center for Civil Protection has been coordinating aid in other areas for months. For example, recently, numerous ventilators were delivered to Balkan countries and other alliance states.

(Image: Flickr)

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