Cuba says bioweapons charge pretext to invade
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01 Apr 2004 01:41:27 GMT
Cuba again rejects US official's bioweapons charge
HAVANA, March 31 (Reuters) - Cuba on Wednesday rejected a renewed accusation by a senior U.S. official that it is developing biological weapons and said the charges were an attempt to seek a pretext to invade the communist-run island.
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque called a news conference to deny the latest charge by John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration, who made a similar accusation in 2002.
Bolton told Congress in written testimony on Tuesday that Cuba remains a "terrorist and (biological weapons) threat to the United States."
"I believe the case for the existence of a developmental Cuba (biological weapons) effort is strong," Bolton said in a 25-page statement to the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee.
Cuba has one of the most advanced biotech industries in Latin America, but insists research is solely dedicated to medical uses. It has research accords with a number of countries, including Iran.
"Mr. Bolton either suffers from schizophrenia, a permanent obsession with Cuba or doesn't have an ounce of shame," the Cuban foreign minister said.
"U.S. public opinion knows that our country has rejected the accusations that we produce violent weapons or conduct research on biological arms, that all this is false."
Bolton first accused Cuba of biological weapons research in 2002, on the eve of a visit to the island by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Carter disputed the accusations in a statement he read out during a visit to Havana's Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, where he said there had been no mention of the matter during briefings in Washington prior to his trip.
"Bolton is only trying to present pretexts and justifications for a military attack on our country," Perez Roque said.