On April 10th we mark the 40th anniversary since the entering into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction. Bulgaria signed the document on April 10 1972, it entered into force for us in March 1975 and this country has been active in international efforts for prevention of bioterrorism ever since.
The fight for prevention of the usage of bacteriological and toxin weapons turned out to be extremely complicated. Biologically active agents were used in ancient times.
There were 244 registered cases of military usage of biological and chemical weapons between WWI and 1994. It is considered that the signing of the Biological Weapons Convention has reduced significantly the danger of its eventual usage.
The problem became quite popular after the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, perpetrated by members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect. It turned out that the sect had 10,000 followers, a fund of USD 1bln. and it produced biological weapons. Due to this growing threat many countries and international organizations took adequate actions that have been developing and improving ever since.
Today Bulgaria has built up a complicated, but secure system for prevention of the production and distribution of bacteriological weapons. The right of export, import, transfer and transportation of goods with possible dual use is given by an Interdepartamental Council that includes representatives of the competent ministries, the army, the intelligence and counter-intelligence. All requests for such activities are viewed by a separate Interdepartamental Committee, consisting of representatives of the ministries of economy, defense, the foreign one and also the State Agency for National Security. Export control is also carried out by the Customs Agency and the Finance Ministry. The whole process is regulated by a Law on export control of weapons and technologies with dual-use, special regulations for its implementation, a constantly updated List of dual-use products and technologies that are a subject of control and also a Law for ban of chemical weapons and control over toxic chemical ingredients and their precursors. This activity totally complies with the regime of control, implemented by the EU and the recommendations of the UN and is reported annually to the EC. The EP gives statement on its conclusions. Bulgaria has been a member of the mechanism, settled by the so-called Australia Group for harmonization of export control and prevention of the usage of biological weapons, which places under control certain categories of biological agents too, such as animal and human pathogens and toxins.
The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences also joined the efforts of the state institutions. In 2005 its general Assembly adopted an Ethic Code of Bulgarian Scientists for Prevention and Fight with Bioterrorism. NGOs and the whole society are also engaged in this cause.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev