US awaits 'germ warfare' details

The US administration is awaiting clarification of reports that the Soviet Union may have violated international convention against biological (germ) warfare, Monitor correspondent John K. Cooley reports.

Reports from European emigre and intelligence sources of a mysterious illness , possibly linked to an accident last year in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, wher such weapons have been reported stockpiled, are still being evaluated by US analysts.

The US and the Soviets, with 85 other countries, have signed and ratified a 1925 Geneva agreement banning development and use of both chemical and biological weapons. Soviet forces have reportedly used poison gas recently in Afghanistan in violation of this accord.

On Monday the NATO supreme allied commander, Gen. Bernard W. Rogers (USA), urged that the US produce chemical weapons for NATO to deter the Soviets from using their large existing chemical arsenal. The US destroyed its existing stocks of bacteriological weapons before President Ford's administration signed the Geneva accord in 1975. The soviet Foreign Ministry Wednesday described as "impudent slander" a US suggestion that Moscow might have been violating an international treaty on biological warfare research. "This is just the latest invention of American propaganda."

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