The New Biological Weapons: Threat, Proliferation, and Control

By Malcolm Dando | Go to book overview
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Operational Toxin and
Bioregulatory Weapons

Because of the relative openness of U. S. society, much of the detailed information available on biological weapons comes from the records of the U. S. offensive biological weapons program that ran from World War II to the late 1960s, a period of almost two and a half decades. During that time this massive research and development effort went through a number of phases. The official U. S. Army account of the mid-1970s suggests a series of six phases following the initial work during the war (Table 2.1) (1). It is obvious from the characterization of these phases that the program was directed toward the possible operational use of the biological weapons produced.

The 1925 Geneva Protocol had outlawed the use of both chemical and biological weapons, but not their research, development, or production (2). Though the United States had stated it would not use chemical weapons except in retaliation (i.e., it would hold them as a deterrent) during World War II, it was not, at the time of its offensive biological weapons program, a signatory to the protocol. The possibility of it using chemical and biological weapons in other circumstances was made quite explicit in 1956. As the U. S. official account noted: “In 1956, a revised BW/CW policy was formulated to the effect that the US would be prepared to use BW or CW in a general war to enhance military effectiveness” (1, vol. 1). A number of biological and toxin agents were weaponized for use against humans and staple food crop plants. Our first consideration here will be the toxin weapons developed.


An official 1992 French paper prepared to consider whether the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention could, in fact, be verified, set out the range of agents covered by the convention as follows:


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The New Biological Weapons: Threat, Proliferation, and Control


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