International Weapons Inspections Team Refused Access to U.S. Army Biological Weapons Site

“As an American, I support this initiative by Rooting Out Evil to expose the
hypocrisy of the Bush Administration and I think that all nations with
weapons of mass destruction should be transparent and work toward
disarmament.”
- Susan Sarandon, in a taped statement, February 21, 2003

Toronto, Feb 23 ­ A 13-member delegation of parliamentarians, scientists,
academics, faith and union leaders from Canada, the U.K., Italy, Denmark and
the United States have been refused access to inspect the Edgewood Chemical
Biological Center in Maryland. The U.S. Army site at Edgewood has long been
suspected of engaging in research and the stockpiling of weaponry that
violates international chemical and biological conventions.

Upon arrival at the main gate, the Inspections Team was met by heavily-armed
security and a spokesman from the facility. The Inspections Team was informed
that, despite a formal request to the Department of Defense issued last week,
they lacked the appropriate credentials to be admitted onto base property.
Several inspectors expressed concern about the lack of American cooperation
and accentuated the need for a universally applied framework of international
mechanisms to eliminate chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. The team
stated that they support the work of U.N. inspectors, and stressed that
inspections are the first step toward the eradication of weapons of mass
destruction everywhere.

Alan Simpson, a UK Member of Parliament and leader of Labour Against the War,
articulated the group’s intentions in a statement to base personnel,
spectators and media. Simpson emphasized the group’s concerns about
biological and chemical weapons being developed and stored at the Edgewood
facility.

Inspections Team member Edward Hammond, Director of the Sunshine Project and
an American biological weapons expert, stated that Edgewood has all of the
facilities and expertise for the development of biological and chemical
weapons. The base also has stocks of biological and chemical agents, such as
ricin and anthrax.  Edgewood’s research program to develop so-called “non-
lethal” biochemical weapons program contravenes international agreements
ratified by the United States.

After being asked to leave the base, Alan Simpson remarked, “Had this
inspection taken place in Iraq, and had we been denied access to such a site,
President Bush would have declared material breach of Resolution 1441 and
authorized war on Iraq. This is the scale of double standard the disarmament
movement has to address.”

The international Inspection Team is composed of prominent Canadian, British,
American Danish and Italian parliamentarians, scientists, academics, faith
and union leaders. The delegation includes: Libby Davies, Member of
Parliament (Canada); Christy Ferguson, Organizer and Spokesperson, Rooting
Out Evil; David Langille, Director of Public Affairs, Centre for Social
Justice; Alan Simpson, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom) and head of
Labour Against the War; Edward Hammond, Director, Sunshine Project; Peter
Shorett, Director of Programmes, Council for Responsible Genetics; Samaa
Elibyari, Representative, Canadian Islamic Congress; Deborah Bourque,
National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Steven Staples, Defense
Analyst, Polaris Institute; Mel Watkins, Professor Emeritus - Economics and
Political Science, University of Toronto; Francesco Martone, Italian Senator;
Graziella Mascia, Member of Parliament (Italy); Pernille Rosenkrantz, Member
of Parliament (Denmark).

Rooting Out Evil is a Canadian-based coalition of international citizens
opposed to the development, storage, and use of weapons of mass destruction
by any nation. This effort is supported by a broad coalition of Canadian and
international groups including, the Centre for Social Justice, the Canadian
and American sections of the Women’s International League for Peace and
Freedom, the National Network to End the War Against Iraq, Global Exchange,
and International A.N.S.W.E.R. In addition to the formal Inspection Team,
Rooting Out Evil has recruited almost 25,000 honorary inspectors through its
website, www.rootingoutevil.org.


David Langille, Director of Public Affairs
CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
489 College Street, Suite 303
Toronto, ON  M6G 1A5  CANADA
Toll-free 1-888-803-8881 x225
Tel 416-927-0777x225    Fax 416-927-7771   Cell 416-436-6650
langille@socialjustice.org      www.socialjustice.org

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