Cuba: Biological Weapons Charge Is 'Loathsome'

Cuba on Thursday characterized as "loathsome" a Bush administration official's allegations that the communist country is trying to develop biological weapons and is transferring technical expertise to countries hostile to the United States.

The short note published in the Communist Party daily Granma was the first official response to the statements U.S. State Department Undersecretary John R. Bolton made Monday to a gathering at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group in Washington.

"There will be an answer for Mr. John Bolton" on state television's daily "round table"e said. It said an "appropriate and complete" response would be offered to the "loathsome accusations against Cuba."

Fidel Castro's government in the past has accused the United States of using biological means to destroy crops and livestock on the island.

Bolton's statements marked the first time the United States had raised the possibility of Cuban involvement in weapons of mass destruction. Bolton, the State Department's top official dealing with proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, said transfers to what he described as "rogue states" involve biotechnology that can have legitimate uses as well.

The allegations appeared to add to the administration's rationale for keeping Cuba on State's list of countries accused of engaging in international terrorism.

Bolton didn't identify countries with which he alleged Cuba has been sharing biotechnology but noted Castro last year visited Iran, Syria and Libya. The State Department names all of them, with Cuba, on its annual list of terrorism sponsors.

Cuba's ability to threaten U.S. security has received less attention in recent years as Castro halted his earlier practice backing independence movements and revolutions in other countries.

The Bush administration last year said it was examining whether Cuba could engage in computer network attacks that could disrupt American military movements.

Castro last year dismissed concerns about Cuban cyberterrorism against the United States as "craziness," saying his country doesn't have the technology to launch such attacks even if it wanted to.