Hundreds of tons of anthrax bacteria — enough to destroy the world many times over — was buried in an unsafe fashion on a remote island in the inland Aral Sea toward the end of the Cold War, reports the New York Times in a front-page expose. Soviet officials hastily shipped it to the area, which now borders Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, in 1988, fearing that U.S. or British officials would discover that the Soviet Union had been producing tons of deadly germs for weapons in violation of treaty pledges. Though the anthrax was soaked in bleach in an attempt to decontaminate it, U.S. investigators say it is still deadly. The troubled Aral Sea is shrinking and the island that houses the waste will soon connect to the mainland. When that happens, Uzbek and Kazakh officials fear that the buried anthrax spores could be carried by wildlife into populated areas, and American and central Asian officials fear that terrorists could more easily access the area.
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