News

May 22, 1998

FACT SHEET

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
(Annapolis, Maryland)

___________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release
May 22, 1998


                                FACT SHEET

               PREPAREDNESS FOR A BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS ATTACK


President Clinton recognizes that the availability of biological agents and
advances in biotechnology mean that the United States must be prepared for
an attack involving biological weapons against our armed forces or
civilians.

Already, the U.S. military is working hard to defend against this danger.
The possibility that during the recent crisis in the Persian Gulf region
our forces might be confronted with biological weapons produced by Saddam
Hussein?s secret program demonstrates the urgency of this effort.  Under
President Clinton?s leadership, the Department of Defense has made real
strides to protect American troops:

An additional $1 billion for chemical and biological defense were added to
   the Five-Year Defense Plan.

Starting today, the Defense Department?s vaccination program against the
   lethal anthrax bacteria is being expanded to include not just troops in
   the Gulf region but all active and reserve American armed forces
   personnel.

America?s military is also playing an important role in domestic
preparedness.

Under the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Program, military experts are participating
   in the training of emergency personnel in our 120 largest cities for
   response to a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction.

Today, the Department of Defense is announcing the selection of ten states
   in which National Guard units will be specially trained to assist state
   and local authorities to manage the consequences of a WMD attack.  The
   states are: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois,
   Texas, Missouri, Colorado, California and Washington.

President Clinton believes we must do more to protect our civilian
population from the scourge of biological weapons.  In his commencement
speech at Annapolis, he announced that the government would develop a
comprehensive strategy to address this threat.  There are four critical
areas of focus:

First, if terrorists release bacteria or viruses to harm Americans, we must
   be able to identify the pathogens with speed and certainty.  The
   President?s plan will seek to improve our public health and medical
   surveillance systems so the alarm can be sounded fast.  These
   improvements will benefit not only our preparedness for a biological
   weapons attack -- they will pay off in an enhanced ability to respond
   quickly and effectively to outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases.

Second, our emergency response personnel must have the training and
   equipment to do their jobs right.  Building on current programs,
   President Clinton?s plan will ensure that federal, state and local
   authorities have the resources and the knowledge they need to deal with
   a crisis.

Third, we must have the medicines and vaccines needed to treat those who
   fall sick or prevent those at risk from falling ill because of a
   biological weapons attack.  President Clinton will propose the creation
   of an unprecedented civilian medical stockpile.  The choice of medicines
   and vaccines to be stockpiled will be made on the basis of the pathogens
   that are most likely to be in the hands of terrorists or hostile powers.

Fourth, the revolution in biotechnology offers enormous possibilities for
   combating biological weapons.  President Clinton?s plan will set out a
   coordinated research and development effort to use the advances in
   genetic engineering and biotechnology to create the next generation of
   medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools for use against these weapons.


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