Iran - Cuba does not transfer technology for germ warfare

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

HAVANA -- Iran's ambassador denied U.S. allegations that Cuba transfers technology to his country for germ warfare uses, insisting Tuesday that the countries' scientific agreements are for lifesaving technology such as hepatitis vaccines.

Ambassador Seyed D. Salehi held a news conference to deny allegations made earlier this month by Undersecretary of State John Bolton that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort.

Bolton said Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states that could support biological weapons programs. Washington typically identifies Iran and Libya as rogue nations.

"I fully reject the allegations made by State Undersecretary John Bolton," Salehi said Tuesday.

Under a 1998 agreement, Cuba has provided technology allowing Iran to vaccinate a large percentage of children for hepatitis B, Salehi said.

That agreement also calls for Cuba to transfer interferon for treating hepatitis, AIDS and cancer, and other medicines for heart attacks, blood circulation and kidney ailments, he said.

Although Iran could have obtained some of those vaccines from commercial pharmaceutical firms, it decided to work primarily with Cuba since it also belongs to the Group of 77 developing nations, Salehi said.

Salehi's news conference was held the same day the State Department released its annual report to Congress on state sponsors of terrorism. The report named Iran the world's most active sponsor of terrorist acts.

Salehi said his country did not belong on that list.

"We are the victims of terrorism," he said. "During eight years of war, it was the Western countries that used chemical weapons on our soldiers."

The remaining countries on the U.S. list were Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

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