Quality & quantity of weapons (was: I was wrong...)

From: Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@aeiveos.com)
Date: Thu Nov 22 2001 - 08:17:34 MST

Samantha had retracted her comments about U.S. bioweapons programs:
> After digging a bit more it looks like I was too cynical
> regarding the US and bio-weapons. If we have an offensive
> program still going in this area it is damn well hidden.

Scientific American, December 2001, pgs 21-23 has a discussion
by Ed Regis, "Evaluating the Threat". He recently wrote
"The Biology of Doom: The History of America's Scret Germ
Warfare Project" (Holt, 1999 and so is presumably qualified
to comment on it.

He lists the primary reason that states have chosen to
get out of the bioweapons business -- bioweapons are
simply lousy weapons.

"the reason being that although organisms are excellent killing
machines, they make poor weapons. For one, because of the long
incubation period of many pathogens, the effects of use are not
immediate. Second, the resulting epidemic could be mistaken for
a natural outbreak of the disease instead of one caused by the
enemy. Third, the effect of biological aerosols is uncertain,
dependent on chance fluctuations of wind and weather. For all
these reasons, biological weapons are not as dramatic, attention-
getting, reliable or visually overpowering as conventional high


Problems not mentioned are the fact that bioweapons have the
increased risk of civilian casualties and they can more easily
be turned against you (if stolen) than say nuclear weapons
where one might need "codes" or "missles".

>From a military standpoint the U.S. already has more than
enough material for "mass destruction" (~100 tons of plutonium),
so if I were managing the defense budget, it would make much
more sense to spend tax dollars on delivering high explosives
(or bombs) precisely and reliably.

Another more unsettling issue is the likelyhood of a nuclear
war between Pakistan and India (which of course could spread).
These 2 antagonists are potentially producing enough material
for dozens of atomic bombs annually.



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