Gary Crocker: You know, in 1972 we signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and in 1975 it's ratified, including by the Soviet Union. Did you... were your people who worked for you, and yourself, aware that there was a treaty that prohibited the production of biological and toxin weapon agents, the transfer of them, testing? You know, it prohibited all that activity. You know, we felt in this country that we had stopped. And when we signed that, we had stopped that activity. But you were permitted to still do research. Many people write, well, the treaty still permits research, and there were even people in our country that questioned: was that research going on the United States offensive, or defensive? You always have that problem. But it's really important... the people that I've interviewed... did you think you were violating a treaty, or did somehow you convince yourself that the treaty allowed this research?
Gennadiy N. Lepeshkin: I was a military officer and I had my orders. I carried out the assignment I was given and I did it well.
Slava Paperno (interpreting): I was a military officer, I had my orders, and I felt I carried them out well, to my ability. To the best of my abilities.
Crocker: But the question didn't come up, are we violating a treaty? I mean, that the scientists wouldn't be aware of this treaty, and would think, you know, am I... is what I'm doing a violation of an international treaty? Did that come in to their thinking? I mean...
Paperno (interpreting): During your work, you never thought about whether what you were doing was in violation of an international convention your country had signed?
Lepeshkin: No, I realized that what I was doing was wrong, but I kept on working.
Paperno (interpreting): I knew it was wrong, but I was doing it.
Crocker: OK. All right, all right, that's interesting. I mean I think...
Lepeshkin: I was a tiny cog in a vast machine.
Crocker: Yeah. Our scientists didn't face that, because we had shut the program down before we signed the treaty. But I think, you know, there's still work going on, genetic, or all kinds of things where one could still ask, you know, am I doing offense, am I doing defense? I mean one of the... I'll give you an example: When I was going through Fort Detrick before the Soviets were going to visit, and I, you know, I don't know how to make Bot Toxin, and I see a centrifuge there. And they're making Bot Toxin. The real thing. There. But they're going to go out that door, and shoot it into a horse, and they're going to make a vaccine.
But I said to myself, standing there as a non-scientist, but what if you take that Bot Tox and go out THAT door, and put it in a weapon? So, I mean, I said, how much... how many warheads would that fill? You know, it's a lot... what they were making for research, and for vaccination programs. So, it became obvious to me, and one of the reasons I'm asking you this is because the lines got very blurred in the biological weapons field. Less when I was in the chemical weapons. And when I visited Soviet chemical weapons... you know, if you're making Seron, and you're making Soman, or a V-Agent, and you're loading... I mean there's no doubt what you're making that for. I mean it's not going to be used to make a vaccine, OK? But it's not clear in the BW field, I mean because you're batching up stuff for research, you're looking... you're making vaccines. So, I found it very difficult in the BW field to distinguish: offense, defense, research. I mean it's very murky, it seems to me. And... and makes it more difficult to do verification, there's no doubt about that.
Lepeshkin: I totally agree. When biotechnical manufacturing is going on, the equipment is functioning. That equipment contains... the same medium. You can put in a vaccine strain of plague, for example, or a military strain. And the outcome will be different. That's called dual use technology and it is really difficult to tell the difference. That's why now there are 108... 148 countries that have signed the Convention and they are unable to come to an agreement on oversight measures. Yes, they have destroyed the stockpiles. Yes, we don't... aren't working on development or production. Yes, we aren't transferring technology, but oversight, oversight measures still have not been fully and finally stipulated. And there are discussions all the time, an international commission meets annually in Geneva, or every other year, they achieve some sort of common ground, and then they cannot agree on how to implement those oversight measures. I agree with you completely. Verification is difficult.
Crocker: But this year they're going to try. It's my understanding in the Rev. Con., which I spent many many hours and days in Geneva working on that, is that they're going to make a real try at verification this year. That's my understanding of it.