Pakistan and China have entered a secret three-year deal to expand potential bio-warfare capabilities, including running several research projects related to the deadly agent anthrax, a report by The Klaxon said, quoting multiple intelligence sources.
CHINA-PAK MILITARY NEXUS
Speaking to India Today from Sydney, the Editor-in-Chief of The Klaxon, Anthony Klan, said that the experiments were a serious “concern” and exposed the nexus between China and the Pakistani military.
“There have been experiments carried out since 2015 with five different high level pathogens. The studies are being conducted in Pakistan. A lot of the Wuhan Institute of Virology scientists are working on Pakistan soil with Pakistan’s defence agencies which raises very serious concerns among the intelligence agencies,” said Anthony.
According to the report, China’s now infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology has signed the covert deal with Pakistan military’s Defence Science and Technology Organization (DESTO), to collaborate research in “emerging infectious diseases” and advance studies on the biological control of transmitted diseases.
ON PAK SOIL
Despite fierce denial from Pakistan and China, there is enough proof according to the report that a lot of the research can be tied to Pakistan.
Proving that the research is being carried out on Pakistani soil, Anthony said, “It is interesting to know that within these five studies, Wuhan is mentioned, Chinese funding is mentioned and studies on Pakistani soil are mentioned, for e.g. blood serum from thousands of camels and other animals and also thousands of humans. It does not mention specifically where the lab work is done, but mentions several areas.”
“After we first reported this, the Pakistani government came out and said there is no secret about biosafety levels 3 labs which obviously confirmed that it was happening on Pakistani soil,” he added.
PAKISTANI GUINEA PIGS
The findings of the report also suggest that the entire project is being done between the Chinese government and the Pakistani military which allows them to keep the locations a secret and the operations “covert”.
In fact, the report says that Pakistanis have been used for testing and have participated in the experiments. When asked how the news never got out and did the individuals who participated in such research in secret labs didn’t know, Anthony said, “I suspect not. I suspect that most of these studies have a rural sample size. Lot of them are herdsmen from remote areas. How much would they know of what they are involved in? These people wouldn’t know what the samples were for and what happens with the results of the studies that they have been privy to or have been involved in. It is a real scare. There are a lot of question marks.”
On the sample size used, he said, “Around two thousand to two and a half thousand samples in each of the studies. Some of them were about five hundreds. Overall, there were about seven-eight thousand people and about 4,000-5,000 animals, predominantly camels or usually those that are domesticated or reared for consumption.”
FUNDED BY CHINA
All the research projects are being funded by China under the auspices of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which falls within China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to the report.
He said, “It is being done under the auspices of the economic corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the US $63 billion fund… It is difficult to get an exact breakdown but the money for each of these studies, when we track, is tied to the BRI initiative in Pakistan. Almost all of it is funded by China so the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Institute of Virology. A lot of it is a part of the flagship BRI project.”
The biggest worry for the international community is the fact that this research with dangerous pathogens dates back to before the Covid-19 outbreak and the fact that Pakistan does not have the facilities for such viruses. Also, that this is a breeding ground for “biological weapons”.
“You can use technology to wipe coronavirus etc., but it can also be weaponised very easily as has been the concern of many intelligence sources. This is happening on Pakistani soil, fully funded by China,” said Anthony Klan.
He added, “It is happening in laboratories that are not necessarily equipped to handle some of the viruses. We know that some of the pathogens are too dangerous for the facilities that Pakistan operates. BL3 (biosafety levels 3 labs) and BL4 are known to be the most secure. There is no known BL4 facility in Pakistan.”
Intelligence sources, including from the Indian subcontinent, have told The Klaxon they have serious concerns about the secret project, which involves China testing biological agents outside its borders in an apparent bid to minimize the “risk of drawing condemnation from the international community”.
“DESTO has been engaged in various dual-use research projects related to anthrax under a covert biological weapons program,” one senior intelligence source said.
According to another report by The Klaxon, the results of five studies conducted by Wuhan and Pakistani scientists have been published in scientific papers, each involving the “detection and characterisation” of “zoonotic pathogens”.
The studies involve experiments and genome sequencing of the West Nile Virus; MERS-Coronavirus; Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus; the Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus; and the Chikungunya Virus.
There is no vaccine or cure for any of those pathogens, which are among some of the world’s deadliest and most contagious.
As revealed by The Klaxon, highly credible intelligence sources believe China, via its Wuhan Institute of Virology, is testing lethal biological agents in Pakistan and providing “extensive training on manipulation of pathogens and bio-informatics” to Pakistani scientists, which could “enrich a potential offensive biological programme”.
It was revealed China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology had allegedly recently signed a secret three-year deal with Pakistan military’s DESTO to collaborate research in “emerging infectious diseases” and the “biological control of transmitted diseases”.
That Wuhan-Pakistan military tie-up had never been publicly announced or disclosed before, said the report.
Key concerns are that Pakistan could use the technology in bio-warfare, or that deadly pathogens could accidentally escape from inadequately equipped facilities.
Raising concerns regarding biological weaponisation and biological terrorism he said, “There are concerns and the most important threat is what if these viruses escape the laboratories accidentally, how much would the impact be. Secondly, is the weaponisation and potential future weaponisation of this technology. With the instability in Pakistan, the concern is real. China and Pakistan deny it, but the real danger is biological weaponisation and biological terrorism.”