Bloomberg News

Biological Weapons Conference Ends With Goal to Boost Readiness

December 29, 2011

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and partner nations have agreed to increase their ability to deal with biological weapons attacks and mass outbreaks of disease.

The decision, made at the close of the seventh Review Conference of Biological and Toxin Weapons in Geneva, was part of a larger program that the 165 member nations agreed to pursue until their next meeting in five years, said Thomas Countryman, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.

Countries also committed to strengthening implementation of the convention. Now, only about half of the signatory countries submit an annual report on their biological activities, as the agreement calls for, Countryman said in a telephone briefing.

Two U.S. aims -- to increase the three-person staff that administers the convention and to allow the conference to make decisions in the five years between formal meetings -- failed due to objections from some members. The conference is governed by consensus.

--Editors: Terry Atlas, Bob Drummond

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva

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