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Friday, May 10, 2002

Hardly three days ago, someone only too well known to us, Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich was caught out in an embarrassing lie when he said that four Cuban planes had landed in the Venezuelan capital on April 12, and that nobody knew “what they were doing there, what they were carrying, we don’t know”. Apparently, it was the beginning of an anti-Cuba campaign or a vendetta due to the amazing failure of the fascist coup he set in motion, or both.

On Tuesday May 7, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs challenged him publicly, the State Department said that it had no confirmation whatsoever, and that it did not want to discuss the subject any more.

The idea of destroying Cuba, an obsession that has lasted more than 43 years, has lead and still leads U.S. policy down a tortuous path filled with lies, mistakes, failures and crimes. What the US government is telling the world today and what it is doing with Cuba is perhaps the most grievous and demoralizing contradiction in its foreign policy. This great power had never found itself in such a compromising position and it has no alternative but to lie, lie and lie. And there is no lack of unscrupulous characters in major public positions willing to do so, no lack of press spokesmen caught up in the continuous and bitter need to right wrongs and explain the inexplicable in their bosses’ statements.

Even men like Colin Powell, son of Jamaican immigrants, that despite his military training or maybe because of it, is not considered a hawk since he knows about war and has seen many men die --a man that many Americans even came to look on as a potential presidential candidate-- has found himself enmeshed in shameful and little ennobling intrigues promoted by such characters. He knows better than anyone else how inexperienced they are and what little intellectual and political worth those people have.

Whom this new character involved in a sinister maneuver against Cuba can deceive? Mr. John Bolton, an Under Secretary of State, none other than the one for Arms Control. What are they aiming for with the attack launched by this official in an aggressive speech against Cuba given at the Heritage Foundation, famous for its ultra-rightwing stance?

His statement, supposedly an analysis of the dangers of terrorism threatening the United States, begin by saying: “In addition to Libya and Syria, there is a threat coming from another BWC signatory, and one that lies just 90 miles from the U.S. mainland—namely, Cuba.”

Then, after the usual name-calling and stupid remarks full of the hatred common in such arrogant and misinformed people, Mr. Bolton added something all his own:

“We know that Cuba is collaborating with other state sponsors of terror.”

“Castro has repeatedly denounced the U.S. war on terrorism. He continues to view terror as a legitimate tactic to further revolutionary objectives. Last year, Castro visited Iran, Syria and Libya --all designees on the same list of terrorist-sponsoring states. At Teheran University, these were his words: ‘Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees. The U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from close-up.’”

“But Cuba’s threat to our security has often been underplayed. An official U.S. government report in 1998 concluded that Cuba did not represent a significant military threat to the United States or the region. It went only so far as to say that, ‘Cuba has a limited capacity to engage in some military and intelligence activities which could pose a danger to U.S. citizens in some circumstances.’”

Mr. Bolton immediately looked for something to cover up the suspicious fact that it had never before occurred to any US government official to make such an infamous accusation against Cuba. Mr. Bolton blames this weakness on William Cohen, who was the U.S. Defense Secretary four years earlier when the criticized report was issued. Mr. Bolton made not the slightest mention of the fact that scarcely five months and two weeks earlier, on November 19, 2001, he himself made absolutely no mention of Cuba in a speech given to the conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Weapons in Geneva when he cited many countries that were a source of concern to him as potential biological weapons producers. Why this sudden and unexpected change?

Mr. Bolton’s May 6 piece of tabloid journalism ends by saying: “For four decades Cuba has maintained a well-developed and sophisticated biomedical industry, supported until 1990 by the Soviet Union. This industry is one of the most advanced in Latin America, and leads in the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold worldwide. Analysts and Cuban defectors have long cast suspicion on the activities conducted in these biomedical facilities.

“Here is what we now know: The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research-and-development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support BW programs in those states. We call on Cuba to cease all BW-applicable cooperation with rogue states and to fully comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.”

The international press immediately picked up Mr. Bolton’s string of Olympic-size lies, which is exactly what he wanted.

“Washington, May 6 (ANSA). Under Secretary of State John Bolton today accused Cuba of helping ‘enemy governments’ with biological weapons programs.

“Cuba had at least an offensive biological weapons program and could be transferring its results to other states hostile to the United States’, Bolton said.

“The Under Secretary Bolton spoke to the Heritage Foundation, one of the ultraconservative groups in Washington.”

“Washington, May 6 (DPA) The United States today accused Cuba of developing offensive biological weapons and of providing information about them to states hostile to the United States, and urged President Fidel Castro’s government to cease this cooperation.”

“Washington, May 6 (REUTERS). On Monday, the United States accused three countries —Cuba, Libya and Syria— of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction and warned that it would take steps to prevent them from supplying these arms to terrorist groups."

“’States that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass destruction must stop. States that renounce terror and abandon WMD can become part of our effort. But those who do not can expect to become our targets.’”

“Washington, May 6 (EFE) The United States today added Cuba to Syria and Libya on the list of countries who are part of the ‘axis of evil’ dedicated to manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, and warned that it would take steps to prevent them from supplying such weapons to terrorist organizations.”

“Washington, May 6 (NOTIMEX). The United States today included Cuba in the so-called ‘axis of evil’ because it thinks it has the capacity to develop biological weapons which are a threat to United States security, a greater threat than that from Iraq, Iran and North Korea.”

“Washington, May 6 (AFP) On Monday, the United States warned Cuba against any proliferation of biological weapons, urging the Havana government to cease providing any kind of biotechnological equipment to countries that Washington considers dangerous, such as Iraq and Libya.”

The list and the extension of articles and reports on the subject would be endless.

The job is already done! The entire world, especially the American public that is constantly bombarded with perfidious lies, has been informed and is ready to believe that Cuba is a biological power, that it has a program for producing such weapons and that it poses a danger to the United States. And as John Bolton, the very distinguished Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security has said it, we have to believe it.

However, as the old saying goes: “Lies have short legs”. In the United States itself some people are astounded and they are beginning to figure out the whole game.

“Washington, May 6 (NOTIMEX). The United States today refused to produce the evidence it had claimed to have to back up the accusations made against Cuba.

“Both, the White House and State Department spokesmen said that the accusation against Cuba is not based on assumptions but on confidential information about the biological and chemical potential of the Cuban pharmaceutical industry.

“This accusation took not only the international community by surprise but also members of the United States Congress.

According to the same dispatch, “political analysts pointed out that the accusation against Cuba made by President George W. Bush’s administration could be part of a White House strategy to find a justification for tightening its isolationist policy on Cuba.

“The statement that Cuba could pose a terrorist threat to the security of the United States was made at a time when several proposals to relax Washington’s Cuba policy are being analyzed on Capital Hill.

“Nevertheless, political analysts maintain that in view of this and bearing in mind that his brother Jeb will be seeking reelection as governor of Florida this year, President Bush wants to ingratiate himself with the Cuban exile community.

“Given the fact that more than four decades of economic blockade against Cuba have not removed Fidel Castro from power in Havana, the only people who want this isolationist policy to remain in effect and harder are the vast majority of the Cuban exile community in the United States.

“The possibility of including Cuba as a member of the so-called ‘axis of evil’ with Iraq, Iran and North Korea at the head would make it easier for Bush to obtain the Congress backing for increasing instead of reducing the economic stranglehold on the Island.”

“Washington, May 6 (AP). “’I think that it will delay us taking new steps towards a trade opening’, said Graham, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. ‘Unilateral steps will be most affected’.”

“Graham, however, did not hide his amazement at Bolton’s accusation. He said that in March the Committee he chairs held a secret hearing on security related issues and the administration made no mention of biological weapons.”

On May 7, when a journalist asked White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: “Is there any proof of this, or is this an assumption of the United States?” Fleischer replied: “No, it's not an assumption. I assure you that Secretary Bolton would not have said it if he did not have good cause, reason and fact to say it. That was based on sound analysis, and on information that is studied and available to the United States government.”

This is a typical reply by someone who is launching an absolutely baseless and groundless accusation. The only thing studied carefully is lies and deceit. It is certainly a very sad role this spokesman has. Furthermore, why should we believe Mr. Bolton?

Anyone who remembers the fifteen incredible pretexts, known today through declassified official documents, that were elaborated at the end of 1961 by the high US authorities to undertake a direct military attack against Cuba in 1962, would not be surprised by such a sinister lie. We demand proof. Let them produce even the tiniest piece of evidence! They do not have any, and they cannot have them because they simply do not exist. They should not be hiding behind the alleged sensitivity of their sources, when there is actually not an atom of truth in what they are saying. This very old trick and overly stupid argument only serve to demonstrate their little consideration for, and low concept of, the American people whose intelligence deserve more respect.

I will also say this: If a Cuban scientist from any of our biotechnology institutes had been cooperating with any country in the development of biological weapons, or if he or she had tried to create them on his or her own initiative, he or she would be immediately presented in a court of justice as we would consider it an act of treason to the country.

The Law against Terrorist Acts passed by the National Assembly of Cuba, in its Article 10, provides: “The person who manufactures, facilitates, sells, transports, sends, introduces in the country or keeps in his or her possession, under any form or in any place {…} chemical or biological agents, or any other substance from whose investigation, design or combination thereof any product can be derived that meets the description offered”, is liable to sanctions of 10 to 30 years of imprisonment, life sentence or capital punishment.

This is really an absolute lie, a treacherous blow against the sale of food to Cuba authorized in a Law from the year 2000, which was subsequently modified on many occasions through amendments introduced by the staunch advocates of the blockade that made it practicably impossible to apply it after it had been passed. They are simply trying to mislead and dishearten the growing number of Americans who are increasingly upset by the most cruel and inhuman measure against the Cuban people, which clash with the idealism, and ethics of a nation that has, in fact, been deceived for dozens of years with regards to Cuba.

The only truth in Bolton’s lie is that Cuba is 90 miles from the continental territory of the United States.

It is a false and manipulated assertion that our country has repeatedly denounced the United States war against terrorism. I have said, and I stand by it, that the solution to this scourge will not be reached through war, which would only serve to breed hatred and fanaticism but rather through a sincere and determined cooperation among all countries in the world and by building a truly universal culture and conscience against terrorism.

We were the first to put forward this form of cooperation the very same day of the tragedy in New York.

It is a slanderous invention, a fabricated lie, to say that Castro considers terror as a legitimate tactic for furthering revolutionary objectives. Actually, everybody knows that our revolutionary movement never used such methods that do not fit in with our doctrine, our principles and our concept of the armed struggle.

Mr. Bolton, you’d better get your facts right. Don’t be misled by the fantastic stories told by your dear friends from the CANF. Never were the civilian population and innocent people the victims of our actions. Our tactic always was to fight against heavily equipped enemy units. Presently, you want to call terrorism any armed resistance, regardless of the legitimate causes that may justify it. Along that line you could end up applying such definition to the struggle of the American colonists who rebelled and fought against English domination. George Washington and those who after long years of war and enormous sacrifices conquered the independence of the United States of America were not terrorists.

Someone has failed you badly, Mr. Bolton, when they told you about my speech at the university of Teheran. It was not one speech, but two, in two universities and a few remarks at the end of my visit to the mausoleum that keep the remains of the Imam Khomeini. I have gone over them both in detail. In my remarks to the students in Teheran, there is not one single paragraph that resembles the one you dishonestly included in your speech at the Heritage Foundation on May 6. I never said that “Iran and Cuba in cooperation with each other could bring the United States to its knees”. I did say, in one of the three speeches I made during that visit, that imperialism was bereft of ideas that ideas are more powerful than weapons and that one day imperialism would crumble. I also said that “the Iranian people with heroism and not with weapons defeated the Shah, and this showed the power of ideas. Also, there could never be anyone in the world so powerful that could not be defeated by ideas.”

Finally, I added: “That is our hope. There is a superpower with thousands of nuclear arms, planes, armored ships, aircraft carriers, intelligent missiles [...] No matter how many weapons nor how much wealth it has, it will not be able to defeat human beings.”

I made not the slightest mention of the use of weapons in that struggle. In fact, I said just the opposite. That is what I think, that is how I saw it then and that is what I said. I am not in the habit of hiding my thoughts or manipulating my words. My three speeches in the Iranian capital were broadcast on Cuban radio and television. Thus, Mr. Bolton did not discover anything and I do not renounce my ideas. I said some other things about doctrines and political principles. I have all the tapes and the transcription of those speeches. I can prove what I have said.

It should also be said that when I visited Iran, I had the honor of getting to know a great country with a culture that goes back thousands of years, a country with deep religious beliefs and a great spiritual strength; a country wanting to eradicate poverty, fighting against drug trafficking and other such plagues, determined to bring education, health, employment and well being to more than 60 million people. Not one of the many leaders I talked to said anything to me about biological weapons or any other kind of weapon.

What a great difference I could perceive between that culture and customs with that of the West. But, I did not only visit that country, I also visited Algeria, Malaysia, Qatar, Syria and Libya where they showed me how Ghadafi’s family home had been destroyed and spoke about the loss of human life caused by the F-16 brutal air raid, including a little girl.

Thousands of years of history accumulate in that part of the world, which must not be destroyed nor their people annihilated. Billions of people in the world have seen with deep indignation the televised images of the terrible events in Palestine.

Apparently, when Mr. Bolton alluded to my speech in Teheran, he irresponsibly and dishonestly mixed excerpts of what I had said with fragments and statements of what other people said to foreign press agencies, and information from wire service cables given by someone else or things the speech writer invented. My clear, precise, transparent statements can be found in the speeches I have mentioned and in the press communiqué of May 10, 2001 issued by both delegations where, by the way, the Cuban position against terrorism is described in point 6 of the agreed document that literally reads:

“While condemning the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms, especially state terrorism, the two parties agreed to cooperate closely at a bilateral and international level to fight against and eliminate this terrible phenomenon, to cooperate in the fight against international organized crime and drug trafficking, being always mindful of the cardinal principles of international law, and particularly those of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”

This statement was issued 127 days before September 11.

I should thank Mr. Bolton for his praise of our pharmaceutical industry, one of the most advanced in Latin America, which “leads in the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold worldwide”, according to his own words. We only wish it was more advanced. Even his country could benefit from some of its discoveries, but they would not allow it. However, he lies shamelessly when he tells the American and world public opinion that the United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. This statement is as false as it is grave.

Our researchers and doctors are educated with an elevated concept of solidarity and ethics. Millions of people in the world can testify to that. They work for the well being and health of human beings. For 40 years, 34,307 Cuban medical doctors and health workers have worked free of charge in a large number of poor countries saving the lives and safeguarding the health of millions of people. Nobody in the world could beat them in their dedication and their willingness to make sacrifices.

At this very moment, 2,671 of them are working in isolated and inhospitable places in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. It would be very difficult to persuade these men and women to produce viruses and bacteria to kill children, women, old people or the people of any country. The pride and high moral standards of our people, which have led them to stand firm against 43 years of attacks and blockade, rests on the rationality of a policy that does not contradict their ethics and principles.

Thirty nine thousand and eight hundred youths coming from more than 120 Third World countries have graduated in Cuba from 33 technical and university specialties. Even under the conditions prevailing in the special period, which resulted from the cruel blockade by the United States, 8,053 youths from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa are studying medicine in our country free of charge, a career that costs more than $200 thousand in the United States.

In spite of Bolton’s lies and those of many others like him, Cuba enjoys great prestige because of the health services it has provided to humanity. That is, for its true fight against another kind of terrorism that many chose to ignore: the diseases that kill more than 11 million children every year, whose lives could be saved were it not for the selfish attitude of the industrialized world. An incalculable number of people survive or recover their health thanks to the selfless work of the doctors who come from a poor small country and treat them with vaccines and preventive methods or therapies developed by Cuba.

We would like to know if the U.S. government is doing something similar or if it would be prepared to cooperate with such programs for the benefit of those that it euphemistically describes as emerging countries, as we have not excluded any economically developed nation from our programs.

We have even offered hundreds of scholarships to American youngsters who don’t have the money to study medicine in their country, to come study in the Latin American School of Medical Sciences.

We have even offered hundreds of scholarships to study in the Latin American School of Medical Sciences to U.S. youngsters who don’t have the money to study medicine in their country.

Cuban children are vaccinated against 13 diseases and enjoy wonderful health. The infant mortality rate for every thousand live births is lower than that of the United States itself. Medical care is guaranteed to one hundred percent of the population absolutely free of charge. Unfortunately in the United States, with a population of over 280 million, 16 percent of the people do not have medical insurance, and that includes more than 10 million children. In such an immensely rich and scientifically advanced country where hundreds of thousands of people die every year for these reasons, who is to blame? Who kills these people? Who denounce such facts? How can they invent, what gives them the moral right to claim from over there, and who is going to believe their heinous slander that we Cubans are developing biological warfare programs?

On the other hand, never in the 43 years of the Revolution’s history has anyone in our country launched or taken part in a terrorist act against the United States from our territory. Not one drop of US blood has been shed nor has any US company lost a single screw due to terrorist acts originated in Cuba.

Those who in the United States are accusing our country of terrorism, or of supporting or sponsoring terrorism, cannot say that about Cuba. Thousands of our compatriots have died and tens of thousands of acts of sabotage have been recorded as part of terrorist actions and US aggression against Cuba. Can their spokesmen deny these facts? I am not referring to the American people; I am referring to their government. The overriding question of the powers given to U.S. government officials to effectuate out of court executions and to kill people anywhere in the world has not even been clarified. I have personally often been the target of these sinister plans. That was how they operated in the past. Have they or haven’t they gone back to such disgusting methods? Why doesn’t Mr. Bolton tell us a little bit about that subject?

As for weapons of mass destruction, Cuba’s policy has been irreproachable. No one has ever produced a single piece of evidence that any program for developing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons has been set up in our country. Those who have no sense of ethics, or who fail to understand that the government of Cuba abides by truth and transparency, might at least understand that it would have been utterly stupid to behave in any other way. Any such program would lead the economy of any small country to bankruptcy. Cuba would never have been able to transport such weapons. Moreover, it would be a mistake to use them in battle against an enemy that has a thousand times more of those weapons and that would be only to happy to find an excuse to use them.

From a political point of view, we are living in an era when there are and there will be weapons much more powerful that any produced through technology, namely: the weapons of morality, reason and ideas; with them no country is weak but without them no nation is powerful. Adherence to such a maxim requires exceptionally strong convictions, steel nerves and talent. They should know by now that, as far as the Cuban people is concerned, the ideals that inspire freedom, dignity, love of one’s homeland, its identity, its culture and the strictest sense of justice that human beings can conceive of are more valuable than anything on Earth. These are not weapons of mass destruction, but rather weapons of mass moral defense, and we are willing to fight and die for them.

I understand that for a man like Bolton, intoxicated with the military, economic and technological might of the superpower on whose behalf he speaks, it might not be easy to understand these things. However, it would be a good idea if he tried.

Cuba has absolutely nothing to hide. On the contrary, it is proud of its development in the biomedical research field.

I shall offer a brief historical summary.

  • 1979: the Genetic Engineering Group was set up in the National Center for Scientific research.
  • 1981: the first biotechnology scientific-productive institution devoted to producing alpha and beta interferon was founded.
  • The medical-pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry program: this came into being as a result of the scientific, economic and social development the country had achieved.
  • Cuba met the standards for inspection and certification by international agencies and by the national regulatory agencies of those countries with which it was to have trading relations.
  • The major part of the investment program is developed between 1990 and 1997. It would comprise 40 facilities.
  • A completely humanitarian industry is developed to research and produce medicines for preventing disease and saving lives, as well as to increase food production.
  • The purchase of technological equipment used worldwide from commercial companies with an international reputation.
  • Abiding by agreements entered by Cuba in compliance with the Convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons, the Cuban biotechnology industry, the health system and the civil defense organizations submit an annual report to the United Nations on confidence building measures.
  • Many regulatory agencies from various countries have visited Cuban productive biotechnology facilities as a prerequisite for marketing our products in their countries.
  • In the next few years, 50 new products will come on to the market. These include biopharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnosis kits.
  • Our country already has a stock of intellectual property consisting of more than 150 inventions and over 500 patents registered abroad. The results of scientific research are published in the most important international journals.
  • 1990: Our products began to be exported and exports have increased every year since then.
  • 1992: Cuba signed the Convention on Biological Diversity ratified in 1994.
  • 1995: landmark forms of marketing are introduced: technology transfers, at-risk development contracts with foreign companies, and production-commercial partnerships.
  • Today, products and technology of the Cuban biotechnology industry are available in more than 40 countries.

Agreements for Technology transfers or negotiations are currently underway with 14 countries:

India: 4 transfers, 4 products
China: 2 transfers, 4 products.
Brazil: 2 transfers, 2 products.
Egypt: 4 transfers, I product under negotiation.
Malaysia: 6 transfers.
Iran: 4 transfers, 4 products.
Russia: 1 transfer, 1 product.
South Africa: 1 transfer, 1 product.
Tunisia: 1 transfer, 1 product.
Algeria: 1 transfer, 3 products.
Great Britain-Belgium: 1 transfer, 1 product.
Venezuela: 1 transfer, 2 products under negotiation.
Mexico: 1 transfer, 1 product

New trade and production negotiations are underway with 10 countries:

Malaysia, Holland, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, Vietnam, Mexico, Ukraine, Germany and the United States (in this case negotiations over the use of the Cuban anti-meningitis vaccine and the first contacts for possible clinical trials with the EGF vaccine for lung cancer).

Cuban biotechnology centers have already registered:

24 products, both biopharmaceuticals and vaccines.
49 cutting edge generic medicine.
5 products for treating AIDS.
15 new medical equipment.
24 diagnosis systems.

And moving on from these results, scientific research is now focusing on 60 projects.

Among the most significant new products that scientific researchers try to obtain are the following:

29 new vaccines including 8 cancer vaccines, 4 of which are in the clinical trial stage not only in Cuba but also in Canada, Argentina and England.

21 innovative products for treating cancer plus the 28 cytostatics already known, which a new plant will begin producing.

Cuban biotechnology centers have filed for patents on 150 inventions that would bring our total number of patents registered to 505. Four of these patents have been awarded the Medal of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Countless politicians, scientists and businesspeople have visited Cuban biotechnology institutes. In the year 2000, 1520 people visited just one of the most important centers; 484 of them came from the United States.

The doors of our research centers are opened to any international institution.

In an official public note, Cuba has proposed three important draft agreements to the United States, which are more beneficial for the United States than they are for Cuba, given the extent of the problems in each of the two countries. One, a draft agreement on immigration issues; two, a draft cooperation agreement to fight illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances; three, a draft bilateral cooperation program to fight terrorism. We have not received any reply whatsoever. Perhaps their reply is to accuse us of manufacturing biological weapons? Who do they think they can intimidate with that?

We are urged to stop any kind of cooperation applicable to biological weapons with “rogue” states and to meet all our obligations under the Convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons. What is the international organization that decides whether a country is or is not a rogue state? What is the rule of the Convention on Biological Weapons that Cuba has violated? Is it perhaps that on top of the criminal blockade they are now trying to prevent us from marketing our medicines and using our most wholesome and noblest products, the fruit of the talent of our scientists, to place them at the service of any person’s health anywhere in the world? Could it be that the U.S. government wants to have a bilateral agreement in addition to those Cuba has proposed, namely, cooperation in the struggle against the production of biological weapons? Say so, then. We would be willing to include it on our list of projects pending a reply.

We are sorry, Mr. Bolton. After the lies, slanders, tales and insults you launched in your May 6 speech, we are sorry to tell you that you lack any morale to make exhortations to Cuba on this subject and even less to make any demand at all using a threatening tone and language. Neither can you pretend to give Cuba any lesson in politics or ethics.

Anyway, you and your government could draw inspiration from Cuba’s decent and honorable behavior. I can assure you that we will charge absolutely nothing for this technology transfer.