In a leaked State Department cable from 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the Wuhan Institute of Virology could lead to “biological weapons proliferation concern.”
The cable, obtained via Wikileaks, was sent from the State Department in June 2009 to all embassies in member nations ahead of the Australia Group plenary session in Paris, September 21-25, 2009. The Australia Group is an international export control forum organized to prevent the spread of technologies and research that could be used in chemical and biological weapons. All Five Eyes nations are members of the group, including the EU, India, Japan, and South Korea. China is not a member of the group.
The cable stated, “We believe it is important to focus on emerging chemical and biological technologies, trends in the trade of CBW-related goods and threats.”
When it came to France, Secretary Clinton’s cable noted:
“The U.S. believes participants would benefit from hearing about your experiences assisting China in setting up a Biosafety Level-4 (BSL-4) laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the export control and intangible technology transfer perspectives. We are particularly interested to know how China plans to vet incoming foreign researchers from countries of biological weapons proliferation concern.”
More broadly on the question of China’s biological weapons program, Secretary Clinton’s cable noted:
“The U.S. believes AG members would be interested in any information you can share related to China and North Korea, specifically information related to:
- China’s Institutes of Biological Products (locations in Beijing and Wuhan), to include overhead imagery analysis, if possible.
- Your perceptions of the CBW proliferation activities by Chinese entities.
- Your perceptions of Chinese government efforts to enforce its export control rules.”