Biological Weapons – Биологическое оружие

Biological warfare is the use of any bacteria, virus or other disease-causing organism or toxin found in nature, as a weapon of war to incapacitate or kill an adversary.

The use of biological agents for military purposes is not new, but before the 20th century, biological warfare took two main forms. The first is deliberate poisoning of food and water with infectious material and the second is the use of microorganisms, toxins or animals, living or dead, in a weapon system.

Biological warfare has been practised repeatedly throughout human history. During the 6th Century В. С. the Assyrians poisoned enemy wells with a fungus that would make the enemy delusional. In 184 ВС, Hannibal of Carthage had clay pots filled with poisonous snakes and instructed his soldiers to throw the pots onto the decks of enemy ships, etc.

Historical accounts from medieval Europe detail the use of infected animal carcasses by Mongols, Turks and others, to infect enemy water supplies.

During the Middle Ages, victims of the bubonic plague were used for biological attacks, often by flinging their corpses and excrement over castle walls using catapults.

Modern research and production of such weapons include human experimentation on thousands, mostly Chinese led by the Japanese army during the Second World War. They used biological weapons on Chinese soldiers and civilians.

This employment was largely viewed as ineffective due to inefficient delivery systems. There is a report of over 600,000 victims, largely due to plague and cholera outbreaks.

In response to suspected biological weapons development in Germany and Japan, the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada initiated a biological weapon development programme in 1941 that resulted in the weaponization of anthrax, brucellosis, and botulinum toxin.

Considerable research on the topic was performed by the Soviet Union. China and North Korea accused the United States of large-scale field testing of biological weapons against them during the Korean War in 1950-53.

In 1972, two superpowers — the U. S. and the USSR — signed the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, which banned development, production and stockpiling of microbes or their poisonous products except in amounts necessary

for protective and peaceful research.

So, the creation and stockpiling of biological weapons is outlawed by the 1972 Convention, signed by over 100 states, because a successful attack could conceivably result in thousands, possibly even millions, of deaths and could cause severe disruptions to societies and economies. Oddly enough, the convention prohibits only creation and storage, but not usage, of these weapons.

The main problem for those who’d like to use such weapons in military purposes is that a biological warfare attack would take days to implement, and therefore, unlike a nuclear or chemical attack, would not immediately stop an advancing army.

As a strategic weapon, biological warfare is again militarily problematic, because unless it is used to poison enemy civilian towns, it is difficult to prevent the attack from spreading, either to allies or to the attacker, and a biological warfare attack invites immediate massive retaliation, usually in the same form.

That is why biological weapon is militarily of little use except in the context of bioterrorism. And that is the main concern nowadays.

The most common diseases known to be weaponized are anthrax, Ebola, bubonic plague, cholera, tularaemia, brucellosis, Q fever, glanders, melioidosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhus, psisticosis, yellow fever, Japanese В encephalitis, and smallpox. Naturally-occurring toxins that can be used as weapons include Ricin, SEB, Botulism toxin, and many Mycotoxins, etc.

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Biological Weapons – Биологическое оружие