The threat of chemical and biological weapons

Biological weapons convention

During one week in October of , 4, people in Philadelphia alone died of the flu and its complications. However, the Syrian Government continued to deny that it had used chemical weapons and did not mention in its initial declaration any weapons of the two types identified by the international inspectors as having been used at Ghouta on 21 August. Chemical weapon arms control and disarmament The Third Review Conference of the CWC and the 18th Conference of the States Parties received significant international prominence, partly as a result of attention to the continued worsening conflict in Syria and the decision by the United States not to attack Syria for its chemical weapon use in exchange for verified chemical weapon disarmament. This is not a new idea. Skillfully engineered, a microbe can spread rapidly among target populations critical to a war effort. We are teetering on the edge of a biological abyss, oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead. Its report, which confirmed the use of chemical weapons in the civil war without specifying which side had used them, led to Syria becoming a party to the CWC. First, some of the enemies we face today are not "rational" in the sense that term is used in the West. From the use of jetliners in the attacks to the appearance of improvised explosive devices in Iraq to the growing use of drones by our enemies to the proliferation of cyber threats, policymakers are continuously being confronted by unexpected challenges. Information about the latest discoveries in the life sciences also diffuses rapidly around the globe, widening the accessibility of knowledge and tools for beneficial purposes and for potentially nefarious applications. And yet even as the report was being written, the White House budget office was proposing to cut off funding to the government's only biodefense analysis and countermeasures center at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Thus, biowar could be the next big asymmetric threat. It calls them "asymmetric threats," meaning threats that attack us where we are least prepared. And unlike in the case of any other methods of mass murder that our enemies might embrace, the destructive effects of releasing engineered pathogens don't necessarily dissipate with time.

Wikimedia Which brings me to the subject of biowar -- the use of microbes to attack target populations. According to author John Barry, the Spanish flu killed more people around the world in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed over the course of a century.

Today, threats are harder to anticipate. But why, you might ask, would any rational adversary embrace such an indiscriminate form of warfare today, even if it could fashion pathogens of similar or greater virulence?

chemical warfare

And yet even as the report was being written, the White House budget office was proposing to cut off funding to the government's only biodefense analysis and countermeasures center at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Efforts to find a vaccine against it were frustrated for years -- so long, in fact, that the pandemic burned itself out rather than being defeated by human intervention.

We just don't know when or where. This is not a new idea.

The threat of chemical and biological weapons

The Spanish flu killed more U. They believe they serve a higher purpose. Within months after the first flu outbreak at Fort Reilly, Kansas, two-thirds of the Army's major domestic bases were experiencing mass infections. Our failure to prepare in even the most rudimentary ways is an invitation to the worst "asymmetric" threat that America is ever likely to face. The effects were not confined to America; the flu outbreak among the ranks of German soldiers was so severe that it impeded efforts to mount the last big offensive of the war on the Western Front. But second, when an aggressor nation has the tools to synthesize unique microorganisms, it can also engineer vaccines that confer immunity on its own population. We are teetering on the edge of a biological abyss, oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead. That is the point to which recent advances in the life sciences have delivered us today. I focus on the strategic, economic and business implications of defense spending as the Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive If you can imagine something bad, it's probably going to happen. Efforts to find a vaccine against it were frustrated for years -- so long, in fact, that the pandemic burned itself out rather than being defeated by human intervention.

People who would normally come to the aid of stricken neighbors stayed behind closed doors for fear of being infected. If you can imagine something bad, it's probably going to happen.

Europeans gave Native Americans blankets tainted with smallpox during the early colonial period, knowing their lack of resistance to the disease would wipe out whole tribes.

what are chemical and biological weapons

Read More. The answer is twofold.

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Reducing security threats from chemical and biological materials