The Chinese government has dismissed a report by the Department of State that says China retains "some elements" of a biological weapons program.
The report was mandated by Congress and published by the Associated Press Tuesday. It says evidence indicates that Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and possibly Cuba maintain biological weapons programs.
The report also said China retains "some elements" of a 50-year-old biological warfare program, a statement that drew anger from Chinese officials. Zhang Yan of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control department dismissed the report.
"These statements are far from the truth, and are irresponsible," he said. "We hope that the U.S. side will stop such erroneous practices, and we also express our strong dissatisfaction."
The denial came as Chinese officials unveiled a white paper on China's arms control policy. The paper says the country is committed to developing its military for defensive and not offensive purposes, and abides by a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.
China signed and ratified the United Nations' Chemical Weapons Convention more than eight years ago, renouncing the use of such weapons.
But various private arms control experts in the United States, like the State Department, say evidence suggests that China may still be in possession of some components - such as dual-use chemicals and delivery equipment - of a biological weapons program.