Sunday, May 04, 2008

US Navy research lab under microscope in Indonesia


Apparently stung by the latest whirlwind of allegations, some of which stretch back several years, the US embassy has issued a statement entitled "The Truth About Namru-2."

"There's been rumours over the last 10 years that we had to respond to," US embassy deputy chief of mission John A. Heffern told AFP.

"It's just crazy," he said of the allegations of spying and secret experiments, adding that Namru-2 was "totally unclassified, totally transparent."

"If the Indonesian ministry of health wants the raw data, it's totally open to them," he said.

"Hopefully we will resume our negotiations. This doesn't help."

Sticking points in the negotiations have included the US's insistence that all American staff at the laboratory be given diplomatic immunity.

Complicating matters is a separate dispute between Washington and Jakarta over bird flu samples.

Jakarta is insisting on "the recognition of sovereign rights of states over their biological resources," and fears the flu samples will be used by foreign companies to make vaccines, which will be too expensive for Indonesians.

US officials have slammed the position, with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recently stressing the importance of international cooperation to tackle the bird flu threat.

"The United States has very important relationships here in Indonesia, that involve joint work in laboratories in various levels of research, and we have pledged to continue that," Leavitt said after meeting Yudhoyono last month.

Indonesia has the highest number of human bird flu victims, with 108 people known to have died in the sprawling archipelago from the disease.

The World Health Organisation, which has designated Namru-2 as a Collaborating Centre on disease research, has warned that Indonesia is putting its own population in danger by failing to share its samples.
submitted to your attention without further comment, almost. There was after all that little pandemic thingy from a couple weeks ago, nah.......,