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What Are US Motives for Deploying Its Biolabs in Africa?

Danger - Biohazard sign - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 03.11.2023
On Thursday, Russian diplomat Oleg Ozerov, the head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum, said that his country is concerned about the possible expansion of US biological laboratories in Africa, given that Africans have no access to the results of such biological research conducted in their countries.
Deploying the biological laboratories in Africa allows the United States to transfer risks associated with multiple compliance requirements at home to an African state and "reduces accountability" in terms of possible immediate consequences of their activities in the laboratories, Director of the Centre for Military Studies (CEMIS) at the South African Stellenbosch University, Moses Khanyile told Sputnik Africa.

"The biggest advantage that the US would have is the fact that, first of all, it will transfer the risk of multiple compliance requirements in its own country and transfer it to the host country. It will also ensure freedom of action in terms of what it wants to do without fear of immediate repercussions. And it also reduces accountability," said Khanyile.

In addition, he said, the US is using its biological laboratories "to strengthen its position [in the region] and strengthen its global footprint."

"One thing we cannot shy away from is that, the US has a vast military assets that are deployed in Africa and around the world. Therefore, in its efforts to strengthen its position and expand its global footprint, it will pursue initiatives like this for its own interest," said the expert.

A warning sign on the door of the Richard Lugar Laboratory in Georgia. The laboratory is suspected of developing biological weapons. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 10.10.2023
Sub-Saharan Africa
Experts Urge African Gov'ts to Probe US Biological Research Activities on the Continent
Elaborating on the topic, Khanyile highlighted that for the US, it is essential to "entrench [its] footprint" in Africa due to the continent's mineral resources and its economic potential.

"As we all know, the continent is a growing market and the center of many geopolitical interests of major powers. It has vast mineral resources that are relevant and critical to the sustenance of most countries. Therefore, anything that can help to stabilize the footprint will be of great interest to any of the world powers, including the United States," he emphasized.

In October, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the US was moving its dual-use biological research from Europe to Africa, to countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Uganda and South Africa.
On Thursday, Ozerov noted that Russia is concerned about the potential expansion of US biological laboratories in Africa, as the results of biological research conducted in these countries are not available to Africans.
Among the risks for countries that host biological studies on their soil, the expert mentioned accidents in laboratories and expenses related to ensuring the safety of biological facilities and training of personnel.

"There are many risks that any country hosting such activities, including the US or any other country on African soil, will face because we all know that any laboratory work can go wrong in one way or another, especially when it comes to biological material. It could happen accidentally. [...] And besides that, there are a lot expenses associated with securing biological facilities, getting trained personnel with expertise and also making sure that no other unauthorized people have access to these materials," Khanyile revealed.

Along with these risks, he underscored that biological material from the laboratories in case of a leakage could "fall in the wrong hands."

"There could be a leakage. These things can fall into wrong hands of terrorists. Criminal syndicates are always looking for some of these biological weapons in order to pursue their objectives," he stressed.

, - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 09.10.2023
US Moves Biological Dual-Use Research to Africa, Russian MoD Reveals
Commenting on the fact that Africans have no access to the results of the biological studies conducted in the laboratories, Khanyile said that such approach is the violation of the Biological Weapons Convention, which forbids development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of the biological and toxin weapons and entered into force in 1975.

"Anything that is shrouded in secrecy, where there is limited or no access of whatever nature from the local scientists for purposes of research will then at face value be violating the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention in the sense that it is no longer transparent and can never be guaranteed to be a peaceful whatsoever," said the expert.

Moreover, he highlighted that although the convention allows limited transfer of skills, knowledge, material and even equipment among the state parties, this has to be done on "a mutually beneficial basis, and peaceful purposes." Furthermore, according to the expert, redeploying the laboratories is "highly hazardous" and could negatively affect the local population.
"The issue of transferring wholesale research laboratories from one country to another is something else, because these things are highly dangerous, are highly hazardous, and then they can really impact negatively on the local population if anything were to go wrong. Transferring laboratories from one country to another on such a highly dangerous material and so on is like transferring the risk from the source country to the host country," Khanyile emphasized.
Speaking about the involvement of US biolabs in the outbreaks of various pandemics around the world, the expert emphasized that although the origins of the COVID-19, for instance, are still unclear, such pandemics are clearly linked to "efforts in biological research, biological weapons research or anything that has to do with pathogens, viruses, bacteria and so on."
Therefore, Khanyile stressed that countries hosting such research, and not the country owning the facilities, are the first ones to be affected in the event of a laboratory accident.

"If a country in Africa decides to host a biological research laboratory from another country, they're actually setting themselves up for trouble. Because, it is possible that when such an accident happens, when there is a leakage or terrorist gets access to such material, the only country that is going to get affected is the host country and even the neighboring countries. So the country that is moving these things around is not necessarily going to be affected the way a host country would be", he underscored.