Slava Paperno: In Soviet times, where could students discuss such issues as: what will happen to the microbes we're developing? Or, what will happen to the weapons we've learned to manufacture in such large quantities?
Gennadiy N. Lepeshkin: Well, each... behind the scenes somewhere, those things were talked about, but in general such topics... were limited to a group of highly-specialized researchers.
David Franz: When did you first become aware of the Biological Weapons Convention?
Lepeshkin: I learned about it as soon as it came into existence.
Paperno (interpreting): He had known about it from the beginning.
Paperno: Did you discuss it?
Lepeshkin: We did.
Paperno: I asked if it was discussed and he said "yes, it was discussed."
(switching to Russian)
And? What did people say?
Lepeshkin: Well, nothing much. People just did their work.
Paperno (interpreting): And I said, "so what was the conclusion?" He said, "nothing, we continued our work."
Lepeshkin: We're military folk, you see. In the military, you receive your orders, and you do your work.
Franz: Bill Patrick was the last living active bio-weaponeer from our old offensive program, and he was responsible for a group called... sort of the "dirty tricks" part of the program, that made small quantities and various interesting ways of releasing it and so on. And we often talked about sort of the philosophy of biological weapons, and he told me that it was no different than working in a tank factory, making tanks or making munitions. He felt he should do his very best, to make the very best biological weapons, to protect the United States.
Lepeshkin: The work that Patrick did was far more interesting than working in a tank factory. In any kind of research involving microorganisms, you're discovering something new every day.
Franz: You know, but I've observed in Iraq, biology was the last thing that they were willing to talk about. And in former Soviet Union, it was sort of the last area that we got into, and I've always felt that maybe, people feel... even people who feel they're serving their country and doing the right thing, may have some kind of... if nothing else, a subliminal moral concern about the use of biology as a weapon.
Lepeshkin: I think it was... fear, due to working with those people. I mean, there were special instructions and they were afraid of violating those instructions.
Paperno: Gennadiy thinks that that's not... was not a human, natural human reaction, that it was fear instilled in them by their superiors and the people who instructed them, uh...
Franz: So as to keep the program secret?
Lepeshkin: Yeah, yeah.