The messenger logo

Norland responds over the Lugar lab

By Messenger staff
Thursday, August 1
The U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, responded to the statement made by Russia's Chief Sanitary Official, Gennady Onishchenko, regarding the Luger lab located in Georgia.

According to Norland, this is a research laboratory and it is an open and transparent facility for scientists of the region.

“The laboratory is managed by the Georgian government and it is an open and transparent facility for scientists, including Russian scientists. They should be interested in coming here to see how the lab is operating,” said Norland.

Onishchenko warned that the presence of the U.S.-funded bio-lab in Tbilisi would have a “sharply limiting effect” on bilateral trade ties.

He told the Interfax news agency on July 20th that the laboratory represents “a powerful offensive potential.”

“Russia deems it to be a direct violation of the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention],” Onishchenko explained.

The statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry released on July 19th in rebuttal of the U.S. Department of State’s annual report on arms control and nonproliferation, contains what might be a reference to the U.S.-funded biological research laboratory in the Tbilisi outskirts.

The Russian MFA’s statement emphasizes that biological-related activities of the U.S. Department of Defense close to the Russian borders also cause serious concern to Russia.

Onishchenko is “alarmed over the presence of a powerful US Navy laboratory on Georgian territory, out of the Georgian authorities’ control.”

According to Georgian and U.S. officials, the U.S. invested $150 million in the state-of-the-art lab, which was named after former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar. It aims at protecting public and animal health through the detection of dangerous pathogens epidemiological surveillance. The Lugar Center for Public Health and Research is part of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.