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Living death: what is a biological weapon

Живая смерть: что такое биологическое оружие

Noisy information campaign of the 1990s, accusing the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein in the creation of biological weapons, have led to unexpected consequences. Ideas about biological weapons were so distorted that in themselves become a danger to society. For our readers, Colonel of medical service reserve explains what a biological weapon.

1. The myth of the bacteria

Biological weapons are often mistakenly equated with dangerous microorganisms. However, this contradicts the definition given in the first article of the international Convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction (BTWC), which was signed by 163 countries, including Russia, USA and China.

In her conceptual split “biological agents and toxins and weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.” While the BTWC is first dependent on the second, and this is important.

Of the BTWC. Article I. Each state party to this Convention undertakes never under any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile, acquire in any other manner and not to retain: 1) microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of such types and in such amounts, which are not intended for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2) weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

The fact that the language of the Convention was prepared by the experts who are in the 1950-1960-ies was developing biological weapons, studied its lethality in field conditions. They understand the difference between artificially-induced infectious disease outbreaks and naturally occurring epidemics. For them there was no big secret that epidemics as a result of activation of a focus of an infectious agent of disease — the area where it is stored in natural reservoirs. In this hearth the conditions are conducive to transmission of infectious agents to people — for example, infected vectors (fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, rodents, etc.) or the microorganism gets into the water in food and from them — in the human body.

For the solution of combat missions with outbreaks of infectious disease biological agent must be delivered to the target, where it was not. Where there are no conditions nor to save it in nature or for the penetration in that group of people, which is seen as a target. In short, you will need a bomb or other carrier, such as a cruise missile, is all that appears in the BTWC under the umbrella concept of “means of delivery”. However, such technical means delivery not ends. Biological agent to cause the defeat of the enemy. Meanwhile, combat the microorganisms is not toxic substances like mustard gas or sarin, to quickly enter the body through the skin, they are unable to. Therefore, you need to find ways of introducing such agents into the bloodstream or lungs of the alleged victims.

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Diseases natural and not so Natural Artificial Epidemic of a Magnitude and duration determined by the complexity and escalonamento natural reservoirs of pathogens, activation of natural foci, etc. the End of the epidemic is associated with the extinction of the natural focus of the pathogen of an infectious disease, the Magnitude and duration are determined by the General intent crime; the rate of application of the biological agent; physical and chemical properties of the used formulation; weather conditions, etc. the End of the epidemic is linked to the achievement of the objectives pursued by criminals, or by exhaustion of funds, the Agent is a Pathogenic microorganism with characteristic biological properties and using typical methods of infection with a Special formulation that has a certain dispersion of particles. Human infection occurs by the method selected by the offender (inhalation, food, or injection) of a Pathogen is Maintained in natural reservoirs. The identification work is carried out to establish the causes of the epidemic, identification of epidemic chains, etc. Maintained in the laboratory. Identification and typing of pathogen necessary to establish the scale of the attack (sabotage) and of their organizers, the Disease Clinic and pathology is characteristic for the disease Unusual for the disease in its natural form clinic and pathology is, for example, inhalational anthrax in the absence of natural conditions for its development
Historically, the first approach that tried to use the Japanese military in the 1930-ies is the use of infected insects. But the infamous “unit 731” experiments on prisoners of war, and also unsuccessful attempts to initiate in 1941, the outbreak of plague in cities in Central China with dropped from aircraft infected fleas showed that the insects cannot be used for military purposes because of the unpredictability of his behavior, the fragility of the body and the complexity of the life cycle. After the Second world war, the developers of biological weapons came the other way is the use of aerosols of biological agents of a specific dispersion. Such aerosols can be created using special ammunition and spray devices, and this was reflected in the wording of the BTWC, in the words “weapons” and “equipment”.

2. The myth of simplicity

Of the above myth logically and the other of the low cost of biological weapons and the possibility of its creation in a small laboratory a third world country or even in the underground bases of the terrorists. In fact, the cost of nutrient broth for growing in a flask of E. coli is very small. But working with dangerous organisms, the causative agents of plague, glanders, Ebola involves adherence to a very serious safety. This will require a sealed laboratory building, equipped with supply and exhaust ventilation. It needs to have room with negative pressure, treatment system effluent, special boxes, autoclaves, airlocks, vivarium etc.

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But this applies only to works by micro-organisms. If we are talking about full — fledged weapon and the violation of the BTWC — you’ll have to create from scratch large-capacity microbiological industry, not the one that produces antibiotics and feed protein. Need to create recipes, providing the stability of biological agents in storage, dispersion and being in an aerosol state. Designing munitions, aircraft dispersing devices, cruise missiles for their use. Finally, it will take decades of testing at landfills and thorough synthesis of the data obtained in the statutes and manuals like the American and TM 3-216 AFM 355-6.

Живая смерть: что такое биологическое оружие

The country is trying to develop biological weapons, you need powerful scientific and technical base, quality higher education and thousands of professionals, able to create special munitions and cruise missiles in a military research centers. All this plus a full offensive military-biological infrastructure — requires considerable resources, so that biological weapons are hard to call are available to the poor and isolated countries and criminal groups. But this myth is beneficial to some politicians: it allows you to blame the need to develop non-conventional weapons or some kind of terrorist organization in conducting a full-fledged biological sabotage.

3. Again about the dangers of myths

Misconceptions about biological weapons start to hurt and research. Cambridge scientists in 2012 found that the strains of “avian” flu H5N1 is easily modified so that they began to spread from person to person by airborne droplets. Soon the us national science Board for biosecurity (NSABB) tried to achieve a ban on open publication of these results. Meanwhile, any virus, whether it is at least three times a modified, it is just a virus.

The situation, familiar to us in the film “Twelve monkeys” is impossible: to be transmitted to humans outside of the natural center without an appropriate ecology of the mechanisms of transmission of the causative agent will not. For mass destruction will require special ammo, loaded with a special recipe that will have to be created together with the means of delivery, examining their effectiveness and undermining near target, under favorable weather conditions. But this is far beyond the technology available to third world countries and especially individual fanatics. And if someone from them will want to learn these methods, he is risking to burn their hands.

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