The terms “chemical weapon,” “chemical warfare,” and “chemical agent” are often used as if they were interchangeable. To be precise,
chemical agent is a chemical compound that is either lethal or injurious in relatively small amounts
chemical weapon is a system that contains the chemical agent, can deliver the chemical agent to a target, and can disseminate the chemical agent once it reaches the target, generally as a liquid or solid aerosol
chemical warfare is the use of chemical weapons
Possession of chemical agents does not automatically afford a chemical warfare capability. The agents must be “weaponized;” systems must be designed to deliver the chemical warfare agent to a target. Chemical Weapons and Dissemination *weapons.html* provides general descriptions of some types of chemical weapons.
Once a chemical weapon has detonated, it creates a “primary cloud,” a solid or liquid aerosol cloud. The cloud then settles to the ground, landing on individuals and creating ground contamination. The ground contamination then has a finite lifetime; it can injure from direct contact or from contact with a “secondary cloud” of agent that has evaporated from the ground contamination. Eventually, the agent contamination disappears as the agent reacts chemically or is diluted below toxic levels by physical action.
The factors that affect the danger from the primary cloud are related to the local weather. Factors diminishing the danger of the primary cloud include:
Variable wind direction, which causes dilution by redirection of the cloud
Wind velocity over 6 m s-1, which causes dilution by turbulence
Unstable air, which causes dilution by turbulence
Temperature below 0C, which causes less evaporation from liquid or solid aerosol particles; aerosol particles settle to the ground more quickly than does agent vapor
Precipitation, which washes both aerosol particles and vapor out of the atmosphere
Factors increasing the danger of the primary cloud tend to be the opposites of those previously cited:
At 5 PM on 22 April 1915, German troops at Ypres discharged 180,000 kg of chlorine gas from 5,730 cylinders on the line between Steenstraat on the Yser Canal, through Bixschoote and Langemark, to Poelcappelle. The gas cloud blew with the wind, and either killed or caused the French and Algerian troops in the opposing trenches to flee, opening an 8 to 9 km gap in the Allied line. On 24 April 1915, the Germans conducted a second chlorine gas attack at Ypres, this time against Canadian troops.
On 31 May 1915, chlorine was first employed on the eastern front, by the Germans at Bolimow, near Skierniewice, 50 km southeast of Warsaw. This attack employed 12,000 cylinders, releasing 264 tons of chlorine along a 12 km line. There were nearly 200 chemical attacks during World War I using gas released from cylinders; the largest of these occurred in October 1915 when the Germans released 550 tons of chlorine from 25,000 cylinders at Rhiems.
Prof. Fritz Haber *http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/1918/haber-bio.html* was chief of the German chemical warfare service during World War I and personally directed the first chlorine gas attack. Haber, a Nobel laureate and known for his discovery of a process for synthesizing ammonia by the combination of nitrogen and hydrogen, is often referred to as the father of chemical warfare.
Many chronicles of the history of chemical warfare *history.html*begin with “At 5 PM on 22 April 1915….” What is perhaps less appreciated is that the first chlorine attack represented merely an escalation of an existing use of irritant chemicals. The use of irritating smokes, e.g., from burning sulfur, against enemy fortifications dates to antiquity. The vagaries of wind and weather and the lack of modern chemical technology had served as an effective limitation to the employment of chemicals in warfare prior to 1914.
In fact, several belligerents in World War I had been using munitions filled with irritants from almost the beginning of hostilities. The French first used shells filled with ethyl bromoacetate in August 1914, less than one month into the war, and chloroacetone was introduced into the French arsenal in November 1914. On 27 October 1914, the Germans at Neuve-Chappelle used the “Ni-Schrapnell” 105 mm shell, which consisted of lead balls embedded in powdered o-dianisidine chlorosulfonate. On 31 January 1915 at Boloimow, the Germans introduced 150 mm shells filled with “T-Stoff,” a mixture of brominated aromatics including xylyl bromide, xylylene bromide, and benzyl bromide. All these compounds are extreme irritants capable of severely limiting the effectiveness of unprotected troops.
As the war continued, many toxic compounds in addition to chlorine were tested for utility as chemical warfare agents:
Phosgene (CG *../agents/other.html*). On 19 December 1915, 88 tons of phosgene were released from 4,000 cylinders at Nieltje in Flanders
Trichloromethyl chloroformate (DP *../agents/other.html*, diphosgene)
Hydrogen cyanide (AC *../agents/other.html*)
Trichloronitromethane (PS *../other%20military%20chemicals/tear%20gases.html*, chloropicrin)
Cyanogen chloride (CK *../agents/other.html*)
Phenylcarbamine dichloride (phosgene anilide)
Bischloroethyl sulfide (HS, mustard gas *../agents/mustard.html*) First used in an artillery attack on 12 July 1917 by the Germans. This agent caused the most casualties of any agent used during World War I.
Of those chemical warfare agents tried, chlorine, phosgene, diphosgene, chloropicrin, hydrogen cyanide, cyanogen chloride, and mustard were produced and used in large quantities.
Production of Chemical Warfare Agents during WWI (in tons)*ww1.html*,*ww1.html*
Note that a portion of the chlorine, phosgene, and cyanide were used for non-chemical warfare purposes. A total of 150,000 tons of chemicals were produced for chemical warfare purposes, and 125,000 tons of that were actually used on the battlefield.*ww1.html*
Development of Additional Means of Delivery
At the same time as they experimented with more lethal chemical agents, both sides worked to develop more effective methods of agent delivery *../weapons.html*. Gas cloud attacks relied on the wind; in the absence of wind or if the wind blew from the wrong direction, gas cylinders were useless. If the wind shifted shortly after a release, the gas would blow back onto the attacking forces. Thus, a number of new means of delivering chemical warfare agents to the opposing forces were introduced:
The 4 inch Stokes mortar developed for chemical agent delivery, first fielded in September 1915 at Loos; this represented the first use of projectiles filled with lethal chemicals in World War I.
The Germans produced chemical agent-filled projectiles for 77 mm., 105 mm, and 150 mm artillery pieces, and the French produced agent projectiles for their 75 mm rapid firing gun.
The British Livens Projector was a large-scale mortar developed for delivering large amounts of chemical warfare agent.
The Toll of Chemical Warfare, 1914-1918
It is difficult to find a definitive figure for the numbers of men injured and killed by chemical warfare agents during World War I. British casualties alone can be estimated at 185,000 injured and 8,700 dead.*ww1.html* Prentiss gives a figure of 1,296,853 casualties produced by approximately 125,000 tons of chemical warfare agents used by the combatants,*ww1.html* but it is known that in many cases the official figures underestimate the number of casualties. Furthermore, it is unclear to what degree the official figures include individuals who were injured in gas attacks but who developed serious symptoms only after the war. Given Prentiss’ estimate of 10,000,000 battle deaths from the war, it is arguable as to whether chemical warfare was more or less horrific than the other methods of conducting the war.
The historical information on this page comes primarily from the references listed below.
Paxman, J.; Harris, R., A Higher Form of Killing : The Secret Story of Chemical and Biological Warfare, Hill and Wang, New York:1982, pp. 24, 32.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, The Problem of Chemical and Biological Warfare. A Study of the Historical Technical, Military, Legal, and Political Aspects of CBW and Possible Disarmament Measures. Vol. 1. The Rise of CB Weapons, Humanities Press: New York, 1971, pp. 27-34, 42, 131-132.
Haber, L. F., The Poisonous Cloud. Chemical Warfare in the First World War, Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1986, p. 170
Prentiss, A. M., Chemicals in War. A Treatise on Chemical Warfare, McGraw Hill: New York, 1937, pp. 661-666.
The Discovery of the First Nerve Agent
The history of nerve agents begins on 23 December 1936, when Dr. Gerhard Schrader of the I. G. Farbenindustrie laboratory in Leverkusen *big_german.jpg* first prepared Tabun *../agents/tabun.html* (ethyl dimethylphosphoramidocyanidate, GA). Schrader had been in charge of a program to develop new types of insecticides since 1934, working first with fluorine-containing compounds such as acyl fluorides, sulfonyl fluorides, fluoroethanol derivatives, and fluoroacetic acid derivatives. In 1935, he prepared dimethylphosphoramidofluoridic acid as a continuation of the previous line of research. He obtained patents for this compound in Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States, and he began to investigate systematically the dimethylphosphoramides, eventually leading to the preparation of Tabun. Schrader found that Tabun was extremely potent against insects; 5 ppm of Tabun killed all the leaf lice he used in his initial experiment. In January 1937, Schrader was the first to observe the effects of nerve agents on human beings when he and a laboratory assistant began to experience meiosis (contraction of the pupils of the eyes) and shortness of breath because of their exposure to Tabun vapor in the laboratory. As Harris and Paxman noted, Schrader and his assistant “were luck to escape with their lives.”*nerve_history.html*
In 1935, the Nazis had passed a decree which requiring all inventions of possible military significance to be reported to the Ministry of War. A sample of Tabun was sent to the chemical warfare (CW) section of the Army Weapons Office at Berlin-Spandau *big_german.jpg* in May 1937, and Schrader was summoned to Berlin to give a demonstration. At that time Schrader’s patent application was made secret. Colonel Rdriger, head of the CW section, ordered the construction of new laboratories for the further investigation of Tabun *../agents/tabun.html* and other organophosphate compounds. Schrader soon moved to a new laboratory at Wuppertal-Elberfeld *big_german.jpg* in the Ruhr valley.
Manufacture of Tabun by Nazi Germany
In 1939, a pilot plant for Tabun *../agents/tabun.html* production was set up at Mnster-Lager, on Lneberg heath *big_german.jpg* near the German Army proving grounds at Raubkammer. In January 1940, the Germans began construction of the full scale plant, code named Hochwerk, at Dyernfurth-am-Oder *big_german.jpg* (now Brzeg Dolny in Poland), on the Oder River 40 km from Breslau (now Wroclaw) in Silesia. The plant covered an area 1.5 by 0.5 miles and was completely self-contained, synthesizing all intermediates as well as the final product, Tabun. The facility had an underground plant for filling munitions, which were then stored at Krappitz (now Krapowice) in Upper Silesia. An IG Farbenindustrie subsidiary, Anorgana GmbH, operated the Tabun plant, as well as all other CW agent production plants in Germany.
The plant took an extraordinarily long period, from January 1940 until June 1942, to become operational. This was due primarily to the difficult nature of the production process. Certain intermediates were so corrosive that the Germans were forced to run all reactions in quartz- or silver-lined vessels. The extreme toxicity of Tabun *../agents/tabun.html* required that the final production units be enclosed in double glass-lined walls, with a stream of pressurized air circulating between the walls. All units were periodically decontaminated with steam and ammonia.
The Dyernfurth workforce numbered 3,000, all German nationals. Workers were equipped with respirators and clothing made from a rubber/cloth/rubber sandwich; the clothing was discarded after the tenth wearing. Despite these precautions, over 300 accidents occurred before production began, and at least 10 workers were killed during the 2.5 years of operation. Harris and Paxman give some examples of incidents in reference 1 *nerve_history.html*:
Four pipe fitters had liquid Tabun drain onto them and die before their rubber suits could be removed.
A worker had 2 liters of Tabun pour down the neck of his rubber suit and died within 2 minutes.
Seven workers were hit in the face with a stream of Tabun of such force that the liquid was forced behind their respirators; only two survived despite heroic resuscitation measures.
In 1938, a second potent organophosphate nerve agent was discovered. This agent, Sarin *../agents/sarin.html* (1-methylethyl methylphosphonofluoridate, GB) was named for its four discoverers: Schrader, Ambros, Rdriger, and van der Linde. In June 1939, the formula for Sarin was passed to the to CW section of the Army Weapons Office at Berlin-Spandau *big_german.jpg* along with a sample of the compound.
All the synthetic routes for Sarin *../agents/sarin.html* investigated at that time required the use of hydrogen fluoride, which caused severe corrosion problems. This necessitated the use of quartz- and silver-lined components. Pilot plants were constructed at Spandau, Mnster Lager, on Lneberg heath *big_german.jpg*, and pilot production of Sarin was conducted in Building 144 in Dyernfurth *big_german.jpg*. The Dyernfurth Sarin plant is variously listed as having a capacity of 40 or 100 tons per month A 500-ton per month production plant was under construction at Falkenhagen *big_german.jpg*, southeast of Berlin, at the end of World War II. Estimates vary for the total Sarin production from 500 kg to 10 tons.
The United States began producing Sarin *../agents/sarin.html* in the early 1950s and ended regular production in 1956.
On 11 May 1943, the British captured a German chemist who had worked at the main Army CW research laboratory in Spandau. The prisoner told the British the code name for Tabun *../agents/tabun.html* (Trilon 83), the chemical reactions by which it was produced, its effects, and methods of use of and defense against Tabun. This was compiled into an MI9 intelligence report of 3 July 1943. Following the war, the Allies contended that they first became aware of Tabun in April 1945, when a German ammunition dump was captured and a shell containing Tabun was shipped to the United Kingdom for analysis. However, the record appears to show that the responsible officials ignored the 1943 report.
At the end of 1944, Germany had produced 12,000 tons of Tabun *../agents/tabun.html*: 2,000 tons loaded into projectiles and 10,000 tons loaded into aircraft bombs. These munitions were stored at Krappitz (Krapowice) in Upper Silesia as well as in abandoned mine shafts in Lausitz and Saxony. Some stocks were also transported to Baveria in anticipation of a last ditch defensive stand by the Nazis.
In August 1944, as the Red Army approached Silesia and the Western Allies began the race for the German border, the Nazis began systematically destroying documentation of the research on and the manufacture of Tabun *../agents/tabun.html* and Sarin *../agents/sarin.html*. In early 1945, Dyernfurth *big_german.jpg* was to be abandoned and tons of liquid nerve agents were simply poured into the Oder. The plant was rigged for demolition, but the Russians surrounded the plant before it could be destroyed. The Luftwaffe was then ordered to bomb the plant, but they also failed to destroy it. It is believed that the Soviets captured both the full-scale Tabun plant and the pilot Sarin plant intact. The Soviets later captured the near complete full-scale Sarin plant at Falkenhagen *big_german.jpg*. It has been reported that production at Dyernfurth resumed in 1946 under Russian auspices.
Richard Kuhn discovered Soman *../agents/soman.html* (1,2,2-trimethylpropyl methylphosphonofluoridate, GD) in the spring of 1944, while working for the German Army on the pharmacology of Tabun and Sarin. The documents detailing the discovery were buried in a mineshaft 10 miles east of Berlin, where they were discovered by the Soviets and removed. The Soviets produced and stockpiled Soman during the Cold War.
Several chemical companies and other scientists working independently discovered the potency of a class of organophosphate esters of substituted 2-aminoethanethiols in 1952 and 1953. Almost simultaneously in 1954:
ICI brought Amiton (O,O-diethyl-S-2-(diethylamino)ethyl phosphorothiolate) to market;
R. Ghosh and J. F. Newman of ICI submitted a manuscript containing the details of this class of compounds (A New Group of Organophosphate Pesticides, Chemistry and Industry, 1955, 118);
Schrader, now at Farbenfabriken Bayer AG, prepared S-2-(diethylamino)ethyl-O-isopropyl methylphosphonothioate;
Tammelin at the Swedish government’s chemical warfare defense laboratory prepared S-2-(diethylamino)ethyl-O-ethyl methylphosphonothiolate and S-2-(dimethylamino)ethyl-O-isopropyl methylphosphonothiolate; and
Ghosh at ICI prepared S-2-(diethylamino)ethyl-O-ethyl ethylphosphonothiolate.
A Soviet team form the I. M. Sechenov Institute in Leningrad had already predicted the anticholinesterase activity of S-2-dialkylaminoethyl phosphono- and phosphorothiolates. The British CW laboratory at Porton began investigating this class of compounds, and notified the US CW laboratory at Edgewood, which began a systematic investigation of the entire class. In 1958, the US selected VX *../agents/vx.html* (S-2-bis(1-methylethyl)aminoethyl-O-ethyl methylphosphonothiolate) for manufacture. Construction of the production plant began in 1959; production ran from 1961 through 1968.
An interesting (and perhaps apocryphal) footnote concerns the chemical structure of VX *../agents/vx.html*, which the US government classified as secret until the early 1970s. The Soviets had learned of the toxicity of the class of compounds. They had either learned the molecular formula (C11H26NO2PS) or they had obtained a garbled version of the structure; as a result, the Soviet V-gas *../agents/vx.html* has the structure S-2-(diethylamino)ethyl-O-ethyl isobutylphosphonothiolate, a slightly different compound from VX with the same formula. It is also interesting to note that the SIPRI report, published in 1971, (reference *nerve_history.html*) states that the formula for VX is secret, but a table in the report with a speculative structure correctly identifies VX.
*big_german.jpg*Select this link *big_german.jpg* in order to see a full sized map of Germany and Poland with details showing the locations where nerve gas research, testing, and production took place under the Nazis.
The historical information on this page comes almost entirely from the two references listed below.
Paxman, J.; Harris, R., A Higher Form of Killing : The Secret Story of Chemical and Biological Warfare, Hill and Wang, New York:1982, pp. 53-67, 138-139
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, The Problem of Chemical and Biological Warfare. A Study of the Historical Technical, Military, Legal, and Political Aspects of CBW and Possible Disarmament Measures. Vol. 1. The Rise of CB Weapons, Humanities Press: New York, 1971, pp. 70-75, 280-282.
These two references both use a series of reports prepared by the British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, which debriefed Schrader and his colleagues following the war, as the source for the information concerning Germany’s nerve agent program. A partial list of these references (thus far unavailable to the author) includes:
British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, Interrogation of German CW Personnel at Heidelburg and Frankfurt, Report No. 41.*/
British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, Interrogation of Certain German Personalities Connected With Chemical Warfare, Report No. 542.
British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, The Development of New Insecticides and Chemical Warfare Agents, Report No. 714 (authored by Gerhard Schrader).*/
British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, Interrogation of Prof. Ferdinand Flury and Dr. Wolfgang Wirth on the Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents, Report No. 782.*/
Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, Chemical Warfare, IG Farbenindustrie AG Frankfurt/Main, Report No. 30.
Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, Chemical Warfare Installations in the Mnster Lager Area, Report No. 31.
CHEMICAL WARFARE CONVENTION DEFINITIONS AND SCHEDULES DEFINITIONS *CWC.html* | SCHEDULE 1 *CWC.html* | SCHEDULE 2 *CWC.html* | SCHEDULE 3 *CWC.html*
The Chemical Weapons Convention *http://www.opcw.nl/cwcdoc.htm* (CWC, formally the 1993 Paris Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction) was opened for signature in Paris, France on 13 January 1993. The CWC was negotiated over the course of twenty years at the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. The CWC entered into force on 29 April 1997, 180 days after the 65th member state ratified the convention.
“Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.”
“Any chemical not listed in a Schedule, which can produce rapidly in humans sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within a short time following termination of exposure.”
“Any chemical reactant which takes part at any stage in the production by whatever method of a toxic chemical. This includes any key component of a binary or multicomponent chemical system. (For the purpose of implementing this Convention, precursors which have been identified for the application of verification measures are listed in Schedules contained in the Annex on Chemicals.)”
“(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;
(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;
(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in subparagraph (b).”
The following criteria were used to determine whether a toxic chemical or precursor should be listed in Schedule 1:
It has been developed, produced, stockpiled or used as a chemical weapon as defined in Article II of the CWC;
It poses otherwise a high risk to the object and purpose of the CWC by virtue of its high potential for use in activities prohibited under the CWC because one or more of the following conditions are met:
It possesses a chemical structure closely related to that of other toxic chemicals listed in Schedule 1, and has, or can be expected to have, comparable properties;
It possesses such lethal or incapacitating toxicity as well as other properties that would enable it to be used as a chemical weapon;
It may be used as a precursor in the final single technological stage of production of a toxic chemical listed in Schedule 1, regardless of whether this stage takes place in facilities, in binary munitions, or elsewhere;
It has little or no use for purposes not prohibited under the CWC.
A.Toxic chemicalsCAS registry number
(1)O-Alkyl (*C10, incl. cycloalkyl) alkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr)-phosphonofluoridates
e.g. Sarin: O-Isopropyl methylphosphonofluoridate 107-44-8
Soman: O-Pinacolyl methylphosphonofluoridate 96-64-0
(2)O-Alkyl (*C10, incl. cycloalkyl) N,N-dialkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) phosphoramidocyanidates
e.g. Tabun: O-Ethyl N,N-dimethyl phosphoramidocyanidate 77-81-6
(3)O-Alkyl (H or *C10, incl. cycloalkyl) S-2-dialkyl(Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr)-aminoethyl alkyl(Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) phosphonothiolates and corresponding alkylated or protonated salts
e.g. VX: O-Ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methyl phosphonothiolate 50782-69-9
Mustard gas: Bis(2-chloroethyl)sulfide 505-60-2
Sesquimustard: 1,2-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)ethane 3563-36-8
O-Mustard: Bis(2-chloroethylthioethyl)ether 63918-89-8
Lewisite 1: 2-Chlorovinyldichloroarsine 541-25-3
Lewisite 2: Bis(2-chlorovinyl)chloroarsine 40334-69-8
Lewisite 3: Tris(2-chlorovinyl)arsine 40334-70-1
HN1: Bis(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine 538-07-8
HN2: Bis(2-chloroethyl)methylamine 51-75-2
HN3: Tris(2-chloroethyl)amine 555-77-1
(9)Alkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) phosphonyldifluorides
e.g. DF: Methylphosphonyldifluoride 676-99-3
(10)O-Alkyl (H or *C10, incl. cycloalkyl) O-2-dialkyl(Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr)-aminoethyl alkyl(Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) phosphonites and corresponding alkylated or protonated salts
e.g. QL: O-Ethyl O-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methylphosphonite 57856-11-8
(11)Chlorosarin: O-Isopropyl methylphosphonochloridate 1445-76-7
(12)Chlorosoman: O-Pinacolyl methylphosphonochloridate 7040-57-5
The following criteria were used to determine whether a toxic chemical or a precursor should be listed in Schedule 2:
It poses a significant risk to the object and purpose of the CWC because it possesses such lethal or incapacitating toxicity as well as other properties that could enable it to be used as a chemical weapon;
It may be used as a precursor in one of the chemical reactions at the final stage of formation of a chemical listed in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2, part A;
It poses a significant risk to the object and purpose of the CWC by virtue of its importance in the production of a chemical listed in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2, part A;
It is not produced in large commercial quantities for purposes not prohibited under thisthe CWC.
A.Toxic chemicals:CAS registry number
(1)Amiton: O,O-Diethyl S-2-(diethylamino)ethyl phosphorothiolate and corresponding alkylated or protonated salts 78-53-5
(2)PFIB: 1,1,3,3,3-Pentafluoro-2-(trifluoromethyl)-1-propene 382-21-8
(3)BZ: 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate (*) 6581-06-2
(4)Chemicals, except for those listed in Schedule 1, containing a phosphorus atom to which is bonded one methyl, ethyl or propyl (normal or iso) group but not further carbon atoms
e.g. Methylphosphonyl dichloride 676-97-1
Dimethyl methylphosphonate 756-79-6
Exemption: Fonofos: O-Ethyl S-phenyl ethylphosphonothiolothionate 944-22-9
(5)N,N-Dialkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) phosphoramidic dihalides
(6)Dialkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) N,N-dialkyl(Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr)-phosphoramidates
(7)Arsenic trichloride 7784-34-1
(8)2,2-Diphenyl-2-hydroxyacetic acid 76-93-7
(10)N,N-Dialkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) aminoethyl-2-chlorides and corresponding protonated salts
(11)N,N-Dialkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) aminoethane-2-ols and corresponding protonated salts
Exemptions: N,N-Dimethylaminoethanol and corresponding protonated salts R-=CH3-108-01-0
N,N-Diethylaminoethanol and corresponding protonated saltsR-=CH3CH2-100-37-8
(12)N,N-Dialkyl (Me, Et, n-Pr or i-Pr) aminoethane-2-thiols and corresponding protonated salts
(13)Thiodiglycol: Bis(2-hydroxyethyl)sulfide 111-48-8
(14)Pinacolyl alcohol: 3,3-Dimethylbutan-2-ol 464-07-3
The following criteria were used to eterminewhether a toxic chemical or precursor should be listed in Schedule 3:
It has been produced, stockpiled or used as a chemical weapon;
It poses otherwise a risk to the object and purpose of the CWC because it possesses such lethal or incapacitating toxicity as well as other properties that might enable it to be used as a chemical weapon;
It poses a risk to the object and purpose of the CWC by virtue of its importance in the production of one or more chemicals listed in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2, part B;
It may be produced in large commercial quantities for purposes not prohibited under the CWC.
AToxic chemicals:CAS registry number
(1)Phosgene: Carbonyl dichloride 75-44-5
(4)Chloropicrin: Trichloronitromethane 76-06-2
(5)Phosphorus oxychloride 10025-87-3
(6)Phosphorus trichloride 7719-12-2
(7)Phosphorus pentachloride 10026-13-8
(12)Sulfur monochloride 10025-67-9
(13)Sulfur dichloride 10545-99-0
Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov was the former First Deputy Director of Biopreparat from 1988 to 1992. Biopreparat was the Soviet Union’s biological weapons program. Alibekov defected from the Soviet Union and moved to Washington, DC in 1992.
During the process of production in the Soviet Union’s program, how many tons of biological warfare agents were storehoused?
The Soviet Union has two main directorates responsible for developing and manufacturing biological weapons. Biological weapons were stored at the Minister of Defense facilities. For example, the Kirov facility was responsible for storing Plague, about 20 tons of Plague. The Zagorsk facility (now it’s Sergiev Posad) was responsible for storing smallpox biological weapons, about 20 tons as well. And the Ekaterinburg facility (at that time Sverdlovsk) was responsible for continuous manufacturing of anthrax biological weapons. The amount of this weapon produced was hundreds of tons.
What were the total amount of biological weapons agents storehoused?
Nobody calculated these weapons in such a way. The problem was that some weapons were stockpiled and some weapons were just prepared for stockpiling. The amount of weapons stored was dozens or even hundreds of tons. There were several facilities there that were considered mobilization capacities. They could manufacture biological weapons in case of getting a special order.
If you have the production facilities, the technology and the knowledge, do you need to storehouse biological weaponry? How does it differ from nuclear or chemical weapons?
It depends on what kind of offensive biological concept one or another country has. If a given country wants to use biological weapons immediately in any war or military conflict, it would store biological weapons. Some countries can develop production techniques, can have mobilization capacities, and they can start manufacturing biological weapons in case of getting orders.
But in Russia, with production facilities still existing, would they have to stockpile weapons? If at some point in the future they wanted to use agents, how quickly could they produce the agents for use?
First of all, I don’t believe that Russia has biological weapons stockpiled. These weapons were destroyed somewhere at the end of 80s. But if Russia does have a desire to start manufacturing biological weapons, it would take no more than two to three months to start this activity again.
Why would it be so short a period of time?
Russia has at least four military facilities that could be used for manufacturing biological weapons. These facilities have not been opened for any visits. These facilities could be considered top secret offensive facilities and they have the capability to manufacture biological weapons. In addition to these facilities, Russia continues running several facilities, so-called Biopreparat facilities. They were considered mobilization capacities. And we know that Russia stores all production documentation for manufacturing biological weapons. It wouldn’t be a big problem to start this production activity if there is desire or if there is an order.
Which U.S. cities were targeted, as far as you know, back in the days when the Soviets had these weapons stockpiled?
Biological weapons were considered strategic weapons. The targets … in the United States, would be large cities, large military bases–these type of facilities … we can assume New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago–these type of cities.
What kind of agents were thought of as useful in this situation?
According to the Soviet Union’s philosophy … smallpox, plague and anthrax were considered strategic operational biological weapons. In future wars, if Marburg was finished, Marburg was to be used as a strategic weapon. But what was complete and ready for application were the smallpox biological weapons, plague biological weapons and anthrax biological weapons.
If, for instance, New York City had become a target, what would have been the expected mortality rates with the use of biological weaponry?
In this case, it’s very easy to calculate. This work was done many years ago by an American scientist. According to this calculation, about 50 kilos of anthrax biological weapon that covers a territory with the population of about 500,000 people, would cause 100,000 deaths. I calculated, with the data we had in Sverdlovsk when the accident occurred and the amount of people dead was about 100 people, between 65-100 people. But the amount of anthrax agent released in the city of Sverdlovsk was no more than 100 grams. In this case, with the efficiency of these weapons, if a sufficient amount of this weapon was used, mortality rate would be hundred of thousands of people.
In New York City, with millions of people, what would one expect to see?
Depending on the type of weapons, depending on the mode of applying, but if we use the worst case scenario, probably half the population. If the entire territory of New York City was covered with sufficient amount of this weapon, the amount of people dead would be millions.
What biological agents were worked on at the time that you were involved with the program?
The completely finished and accomplished biological weapons were as follows: smallpox biological weapon, then plague biological weapon, anthrax biological weapon, Venezuelan equine encephalitis biological weapon, tularemia biological weapon, brucellosis biological weapon, and some others. In the 70s and beginning of 80s the Soviet Union started developing new biological weapons–Marburg infection biological weapon, Ebola infection biological weapon, Machupo infection, or Bolivian hemorrhagic biological weapon, and some others.
Why smallpox? How important was that considered to be as a biological weapon?
Yes, it’s a good question, because smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980. And just immediately after, the Soviet Union government realized that nobody would have defense in the future against this agent, because it was declared that there was no necessity to vaccinate people any more. This weapon became one of the most important weapons, because the entire population of the Earth became absolutely vulnerable to this agent and to this weapon … smallpox is very contagious. A relatively high mortality rate: 35-40%. And if the entire population of the Earth doesn’t have immunity against this agent, possible consequences after applying these weapons would be horrible.
How could that even be considered as a weapon, with the reality of the epidemics that could occur and could get back to harm your own people?
First of all, when we are talking about strategic weapons, strategic weapons would never be used close to the territory of the country that is going to apply these weapons. Second, smallpox is very contagious. It’s transmittable from person to person. Of course, the first effect would be from so-called primary aerosols, immediately after aerosolization. Then people who have been infected would start infecting other people. We know that smallpox is a very transmittable, contagious disease and it can cause epidemics or even pandemics. Smallpox is very efficient weapon because it could cause a lot of infected and dead people.
Was it assumed that before the weapon would be used, the Russian people would be vaccinated to protect them against blowback from people who traveled with it?
In my opinion, nobody cared what would happen to the Russians, because this weapon would be used just in case of, according to the Soviet Union’s concept, a total war. And when we’re talking about total war, of course, nobody would considered the several hundred thousands of dead Russians.
Why was the smallpox transferred from the Ivanovsky Institute in Moscow down to Vector in Koltsovo?
There was, according to the World Health Organization’s decision, just two repositories: one of them in the city of Atlanta, CDC Center for Disease Control, and another one in the city of Moscow, Ivanovsky Institute. But in the late 80s, the Soviet Union had a desire to relocate these stocks from Ivanovsky to Vector, to cover offensive biological works, because even at that time, officially Vector couldn’t conduct any work with smallpox. But in reality, they did. At least, for that period of time, transferring smallpox stocks from Ivanovsky Institute to Vector could cover some of these works.
The main reason that it was transferred was so that it could be used in further research on biological weaponry?
At least at that time. In the beginning of 90s, when I was the first deputy chief of Biopreparat, I had several visits to the minister of health, just asking to relocate the stocks from Ivanovsky Institute to the Vector. The main reason was to develop a cover story for conducting official biological work at the Vector facility.
Why was research done to genetically alter smallpox?
Why was it necessary to develop a 100-megaton bomb, when the United States and the Soviet Union had 10-, 20-, 50-megaton bombs? This was just a logic of developing weapons. You know? If you’ve got a weapon, your next step is to develop a more sophisticated weapon.
Smallpox is a fine weapon. But it could be more fine, just by adding some foreign genes. In this case … I am asking the scientific community here in the United States, in the world, just watch such works very carefully, because in many cases, these works are conducted in … I call them dark zones. We cannot say when we look at one another’s work, what is the real purpose of this work. This could be used for developing new agents, for developing new weapons. This is a very sensitive area and situation. We need to be very careful and cautious.
I call the area a dark zone when the result obtained could be used for defensive purposes and could be used for offensive purposes. Let’s analyze this situation: the genetic alteration of vaccinia cowpox virus. In many cases, you would never find any publication about genetic alteration of smallpox virus, because when we conduct the work with smallpox virus, it’s very dangerous and you need to explain why you are genetically altering such virus. … however smallpox virus (variola major) and vaccinia virus are very close genetically. When you conduct genetic engineering work with a vaccinia virus, the result of such a work would be applied to variola major. When we conduct this work, we cannot say what could be the real purpose or real result of this work. But some results obtained when you conduct work with vaccinia virus, could be applied for smallpox virus.
Was there ever a fear, during the time that you were there, that the U.S. was going to discover the program and therefore bring pressure against the Soviet government?
Somewhere in 1986-1987, we started feeling some pressure. We could understand what was the primary source for this pressure. We were asked by the government of the Soviet Union to analyze whether or not it would be possible to open some facilities without revealing the real purposes of these facilities. We conducted this work for several years. And a lot of scientists, a lot of leaders didn’t believe it would be possible to open, because these facilities were clearly offensive facilities. But in 1989, we started feeling severe pressure from the United States and Great Britain. We were forced to open our facilities because in 1989, the United States and Great Britain realized that the Soviet Union had a very sophisticated and powerful offensive program. When these countries started pressuring the Soviet Union very hard, it was a kind of starting point for the destruction, for the dismantling of this program.
What do you think the ramifications are of the long-term program that did exist–the amount of material and the amount of knowledge that was created?
The problem now is that practically all the countries in the world understand that biological weapons are a very serious threat … a lot of countries are trying to develop biological weapons, and for these countries, the Soviet Union was some kind of role model for developing these weapons, because the Soviet Union was able to develop one of the most powerful and sophisticated programs in the world. A lot of countries are following the Soviet Union’s program. I strongly believe that some Asian countries, Arabic countries … are trying to develop their own offensive program. In my opinion, for them, this country (I mean the Soviet Union) was some kind of example, some kind of role model for these programs’ development.
Besides being a role model, what about the issue of actual information and/or samples from the stockpiles that existed? Should we also fear the transfer of knowledge and/or actual agents?
I’m very doubtful that the Russian government would sell any equipment (I mean sophisticated equipment), technologies, or strains to any other country. Thousands of scientists who were involved in developing biological weapons are now under-employed and unemployed, and this is the biggest threat. If you are under-employed and unemployed, in some cases, you will try to sell your knowledge, your expertise to people or to countries that are interested in such weapons.
In 1991, what were your impressions when you came and toured the U.S. facilities of what had once been an offensive program?
First of all, before I came, I strongly believed that this country U.S. had such a program. But when I came and I saw the abandoned facilities, and I knew that Soviet Union intelligence services didn’t have any information regarding any other facilities but these ones. When I saw that everything was abandoned, of course, for me it was great that this country didn’t have such a program any more.
When you went back to the Soviet Union, is that what you reported?
When I came back, and when I was asked to prepare my personal report about this program’s existence, I said, “No” because I didn’t believe that this country had such a program.
… within two weeks I resigned commission and because I was a colonel of Russian army, in January of 1992, I resigned from the Russian army. And in February, I left all my scientific and administrative positions and quit.
You were asked to lie about what you saw?
I’ll give you this example. General Yevstigneyev, who was in charge of this 15th Directorate, and a part of our visiting group formed by the 15th Directorate, said directly to his subordinates, “If you don’t find any evidence that could be considered this country offensive program existence, you’ll be fired.”
He was a major general. Now he’s lieutenant general. He has received a promotion, and now he’s in charge of first deputy chief of the Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Directorate of the Minister of Defense. All of the people who were responsible for research and developing and manufacturing such weapons, are now in that place. Former colonels became generals and they continue managing these facilities and enterprises.
The fact that the general, who told you to lie or else you would lose your job, is now in charge of the entire program in the Soviet Union–is that not somewhat worrisome?
That’s what I say all the time. Just take a look at Russia … the country itself and this program. The people who were in charge of this program continue working in this area. All the colonels who were in charge of these facilities became generals. All the documentation is stored at some places to manufacture biological weapons. All these facilities are still top secret facilities. And in my opinion, until Russia opens these facilities and reveals everything regarding this program, we cannot believe this country.
Why do you think they will not open these facilities?
Because they conduct work in this area. Until we see these facilities, we cannot say what kind of capability this country does have. I am saying (and maybe it would be very important to say directly to Russians): Open these facilities. I would be glad just to visit these facilities in a group of visitors from the United States and international community. And we’ll be able to say what is the real activity of these facilities … if we see these facilities inside, we can say whether or not they conduct offensive work, and what kind of offensive work.
How is a bio-agent created and turned into a weaponized dust form? How easy is it to create a weaponized biological agent?
It’s a long technological process. If we are talking about sophisticated weapons, it’s quite difficult. If we are talking about genetically altered agents, it’s quite difficult. Regular ordinary terrorists wouldn’t do this and cannot do this. But if we are talking about some primitive forms of biological weapons capable of killing thousands of people, this is not very difficult.
A lot of ways. For each weapon, a technique to manufacture would be different. In many cases, we are talking about culture collections, just how to get this bacteria or viruses from culture collections. In many cases, unfortunately, it is not a necessity. A lot of agents can be isolated from nature. And if one or another person, one or another group has knowledge how to do this work, how to transform bacteria and viruses into weapons, even primitive weapons, they could do this without any significant difficulties.
Telling me just the basics, what do you have to do?
This group has to know several main points and techniques: how to isolate agent, how to cultivate it, how to concentrate, how to dry, how to mill, and how to aerosolize. If they know this, it wouldn’t be a problem.
If a terrorist group were to get material (in the case of the table top exercise that was in March), a smallpox and Marburg virus, and they dispersed it on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, down in the El Paso area, what would you assume the effects would be from some operation like that?
In this case, I wouldn’t assume any significant damage. The problem with biological weapons is that you need to have a very concentrated agent to cover large territories. But if terrorist groups uses biological agents, they would find more vulnerable targets, in my opinion. What kind of targets? Mostly in the cities–metro systems, administrative buildings, commercial buildings, stadiums, shopping malls. These type of places would be the most vulnerable to biological terrorist act.
Worst case scenario, what could happen?
Just to be scientifically correct, let me give you an example. Sometime in the 60s here in the United States, and in the 80s in the Soviet Union, there were so-called modern experiments using some non-pathogenic bacteria spread in some metro systems. After this, calculations were completed. What we would see, for example, in case of applying a small amount of some agents in metro systems, up to 10,000 infected and dead people. And we can give many more examples, but you know, this is a real capability of biological weapons.
If they had been infectious viruses?
If they had been infectious viruses, the amount of people infected and dead would average dozens of thousands.
How much of a concern is this? Is this just a group of old Cold War warriors that are worried about the next thing. It seems that we are safe from a nuclear war now that the Cold War is over.
No. Let’s analyze the logic of weapons development, the history of weapons development … the problem with biological weapons is that they are very complex. But any weapon that has been developed eventually was used in terrorist attacks. Until recently, we hadn’t seen anything with applying chemical weapons, but we’ve seen it recently. Now we can say, if we follow this logic, biological agents, biological weapons could be used in the future. In my opinion, that’s not a matter of if; that’s a matter of when.
What are the ramifications of this type of weapon being used on a society?
As I said before, the logic of developing weapons and, eventually using these weapons in terrorist acts, then biological weapons could be undetected. A person or group of people who use it can escape from a place of application, even from a country of application, undetected. In my opinion, biological agents and biological weapons are very terrifying weapons … we don’t have a capability to detect these weapons before they’re applied, before they’re used. They’re very attractive for possible application, they’re not very expensive and they’re relatively easy to manufacture.
What would happen to New York City, for instance, if a smallpox attack happened?
It might be a full destruction of any vital activity. A lot of dead people. Full paralysis of medical system. Huge panic. People would try to escape from the city. And because they’re contagious, they would form new foci of epidemics around. We would see a fast developing epidemic.
Could the Aum Shinrikyo have been successful in the use of biological weapons? How close did they come and what are the effects of the existence of such a group and what they tried to do?
In my opinion, … it was just a matter of time that this group (I mean Aum Shinrikyo group) became successful. Because after each application you learn what was done incorrectly. Eventually you come to a right decision about how to apply effectively. For example, if this knowledge becomes common knowledge for some other groups, they would study what was done incorrectly. For them it was a new starting point, because they wouldn’t do anything that was done incorrectly by Aum Shinrikyo … year by year, these groups would get more information on how to use these weapons more effectively.
The problem is that the 21st century is the century of information technologies and biotechnology. More people and more countries will get knowledge by technology. But when a level of general biotechnology becomes high, it’s said that the level of so-called military biotechnology is high as well. More people would know how to manufacture, how to develop and manufacture biological devices, biological weapons. And this situation will be changing very seriously in the future.
Was the Aum Shinrikyo group a wake-up call for us? What was the effect of their existence?
We need to stop a discussion whether or not biological weapons are efficient or inefficient. They’re efficient. It’s clear. And if we start analyzing what can be done and what we need to do to fight these weapons, we would see very serious consequences in the future. We need to develop a national program on how to develop protection against biological weapons, against biological terrorist acts. We have a lot of scientists who have a good knowledge of how to develop protection against biological weapons. Even now we can say that it would be possible to develop a comprehensive bio-defense. We are capable now. At least this country is capable to make these weapons useless. We need to choose the right directions, and we need to make right decisions.
So what’s the first thing that needs to be done?
In my opinion, we need to stop thinking that biological weapons are very terrifying and that we can’t find any protection. We can’t forget the ultimate objective … when we talk about bio-defense … to save peoples’ lives … we need to start developing medical defense, because medical defense is able to protect people against biological weapons. If we understand that not just vaccines are capable to protect people, because in many cases it’s impossible to vaccinate the entire population of the country against all possible agents. It’s absolutely impossible. But there are some approaches, and these approaches could be used for developing medical defense against biological weapons.
Can you explain what is that defense? What do we need to do? Is it storehouse vaccines?
For now, vaccines are a temporary solution. But for the military, maybe it’s a good solution. But even for the military, I don’t believe it’s a comprehensive solution. We need to start thinking about using some different ways, because there is our own so-called protection system, immune system. If we are able to boost our immune system, non-specific immune system, that’s the most appropriate and the only way to develop protection. If we are able to develop special protective preparations, so-called pre-exposure, post-exposure preparations, treatment regimens based on boosting non-specific immune system, probably that’s the only way to develop comprehensive protection against BW.
It now doesn’t exist, but we are very close to developing these approaches. And we have started working in this area, and I believe, if the United States government decides to study this approach very seriously and starts discussing this approach with scientists, we will be capable in three to five years of making biological weapons absolutely useless.
Have we, at this point, put enough scientists, money and effort into trying to find a solution to this?
If we analyze the level of development of biological weapons, and the level of development of bio-defense, probably the gap is about 20-25 years. Now we are developing protection against the weapons developed 20-25 years ago. We have absolutely nothing against modern versions of biological weapons. If we continue this approach, we would never be able to catch up. What we need to do is stop for a second and think what is the best way. In my opinion, there is a way and I say this all the time: Vaccines are not a magic bullet. We wouldn’t be able to protect a population using vaccines, because they are capable to do this work in some cases, but this is not a comprehensive protection. If we do not understand that there are other ways, and we don’t start analyzing and researching these ways, we will never be able to develop a good protection. We need to start developing so-called immune boosting protective preparations. That’s the only way to make these weapons useless.
Can you compare the number of scientists that are now working in the field here in the U.S., compared to the number of scientists or facilities that were involved in the Soviet program?
Let me give this example, anthrax. In the Soviet Union, thousands of people were involved in developing an anthrax biological weapon. Here in the United States, maybe two or three people were involved in developing protection against anthrax. The amount of people who do something just to develop real protection against plague here in the United States is less than amount of institutions and organizations in the Soviet Union (the former Soviet Union) that were involved in plague problem as well.
Because of the power of these weapons, how good a tool of blackmail is it to terrorist groups?
Yes, that’s a problem for this country … because it’s a very powerful country and unfortunately this type of country is not liked very often. There is a very high probability that biological weapons in the future could be some kind of instrument for blackmailing. Just imagine this type of scenario. A group of possible terrorists, now located here in the United States. They have some devices. And for example, if the United States tries to organize some kind of military action against an Arab country (because this country supports terrorist groups and such), and the leader of that country declares that if the United States tries just to fight this country, 50 terrorist groups armed with biological weapons would commit these acts, how would the United States behave in this situation? Nobody knows. And what kind of consequences this government should expect if they really used biological agents and biological weapons, is relatively severe consequences. This is a possible way just to blackmail a superpower.
When you first started telling the details of the programs, how were you received in the United States by government officials?
It was a shock. A shock because this country stopped this program in 1969. It’s not naivet, but you know, what the mentality is here in the United States–if you signed a treaty, you cannot do anything in this case. But this type of mentality couldn’t be applied to other countries. For some countries, just the process of signing one or another treaty is some kind of secret permission to activate to … intensify this activity, because it gives some kind of cover. For example, a country now understands that it has some kind of a weapon that could be used in future war without any serious consequences.
What else should be done immediately? What else do you consider to be absolutely necessary to start out?
The best way is to organize a special panel of scientists, intelligence people, government, and develop a national program of bio-defense.
Your suggestion is to begin the process and the research–what would be the first step?
Probably not just the first step. We need to make several steps. Political steps first of all. We need to develop a procedure on how to organize mandatory inspections, not just between the United States and Russia. We can’t forget that there are several countries that are interested in developing biological weapons. That’s why we need to undertake some political steps.
Second, we need to continue developing vaccines, but we don’t have to rely on vaccines … we need to start developing something else.
Is one problem with the vaccines that there is always a variety of bugs that could be used?
First of all, the amount of agents that could be used in biological weapons averages 50-70. But if we add possible genetically altered agents, this figure reaches 100 and more. Could somebody imagine 100 vaccines? Could somebody imagine that groups or population vaccinated against dozens or even hundreds possible diseases? That’s impossible.
Why? What would happen to somebody who is vaccinated?
First of all, we don’t have such amount of vaccines. Second, if you vaccinate simultaneously against five, six, seven or ten diseases, this person could die just after such huge amount of vaccination. Of course, if you vaccinate against one or two diseases, that’s not a problem.
And another problem we need to discuss: What is possible for the troops, is absolutely impossible for civilian population. I cannot imagine how we can vaccinate the entire population of the United States against agents. And even if we had all these vaccines, it wouldn’t be possible to vaccinate because it’s impossible. We need to start thinking using some other ways.
In many cases, there is no necessity to develop vaccines. We can’t forget that our bodies have so-called non-specific immune system. If we are able to develop preparations to boost our non-specific immune system, it would be helpful to develop so-called pre-exposure, post-exposure preparations. It would be not to use for civilian population. If we’re talking about treatment when a set of symptoms appears, for example, after using biological weapons, we need to develop specific treatments based on so-called direct action drugs and then substances that could boost non-specific immune system as well.
But that could take many years. Are we in danger until that point?
I don’t believe it. It would take just two or three, maximum five years, if we start analyzing this situation, if we start putting some money in such projects.
Do we need to bring experts together in Washington to analyze the situation, to figure out a direction? Where are we now?
Now, we are working mostly on developing vaccines. But what our government needs to do is gather the scientists who are knowledgeable in the area of bio-defense, … people who are knowledgeable in bio-offensive issues and we need to develop a national program of medical bio-defense. That’s the only way to make these weapons useless, maybe for a relatively short period of time, for three to five years.
How important is it to immediately create a system to defend against this? Are we ready as a country, right now, to defend against the use of these agents?
This country is the only country now in the world that is capable to do this work. If we are able to gather those people to organize a series of meetings, scientific meetings to develop this type of program, we will be capable of solving this problem.
The problem is that we usually don’t do anything until something happens. But, when it happens, it’s too late. I’m not a psychic. I cannot predict what will happen in a year, in two years. The problem is that it will happen, unfortunately. But maybe for the first time, let’s try just to do something before it happens.
Right now, with what the Soviet Union is going through, the instability of the government, the problem with the economy, does that scare you? Could that have an effect on the problem of proliferation?
If you imagine an angry country, a country that is collapsing, but this country has a huge military capability, of manufacturing and applying weapons of mass destruction–that’s very scary. What we need to do, until this government is in power, to solve this problem, to reduce a possible threat from this country in the future, by developing something to control these weapons better, to destroy some capabilities. And specifically, when you are talking about my area of biological weapons, we need to do everything possible to destroy this country’s offensive biological capabilities.
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“CHEMICAL WARFARE AGENT DISSEMINATION”
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Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov
“PLAGUE WAR” interview with Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov
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