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weapons of mass destruction and are no doubt horrifying, but they are
more appropriate for stealth attack than head-to-head con¬‚ict. Perhaps
States view bioweapons as an effective “doomsday” deterrent that signals
an adversary to watch its steps lest a catastrophe be unleashed: even if your
attack against us is successful, you will pay an unimaginable price. The ¬‚aw
in this logic is that no State is pursuing a bioweapons program overtly;
any active program is under a shroud of secrecy. In contrast to nuclear
weapons programs, bioweapons™ deterrent effect derives from innuendo
and suspicion, not from brandishing armaments. It is unclear, therefore,
whether even non-nuclear States are seriously interested in proliferating
bioweapons in de¬ance of international norms.
Most likely, State bioweaponeers are nations caught in regional con-
¬‚icts. Bioweapons can be cheaply produced, especially compared to the
cost of developing defensive capabilities against them. Getting the requi-
site equipment and disguising an offensive bioweapons program would
not be very dif¬cult. Ready access to a diverse array of pathogen seed stocks
with assorted effects could enable a State to prepare a ¬‚exible and credible
arsenal for various military purposes. For example, military operations to
squelch guerilla resistance could use bioweapons to “soften” entrenched
pockets of resistance without destroying physical infrastructure.
Bioweapons have long been seen as effective against poor, segregated
populations lacking resistance to the onslaught of disease. Since the 16th
Century, the lessons of the early conquistadors of the Americas were
obvious: disease can swiftly slice through the numerical superiority of
indigenous populations denuding vast territories and simplifying military
subjugation. Indeed, some of the bioweapons programs of the 20th Cen-
tury were explicitly designed for use against helpless civilians. Both the
Japanese Unit 731 during World War II and the South African Project Coast
produced weapons that were not designed for use against an adversary
with comparable military power but for use against the indigenous major-
ity. Today, where ethnic con¬‚ict is rife, State bioweapons programs might
be resurging as modern bioscience increasingly enables precise targeting
against speci¬c populations.

Suspected State Bioweapons Programs
The following claims concerning suspected State bioweapons programs
re¬‚ect the pronouncements of declassi¬ed intelligence and diplomatic

sources. It is impossible to verify these assertions without access to
classi¬ed intelligence. Perhaps as many as ten States might have active
bioweapons programs. The three leading suspects are North Korea, Iran,
and Syria.

North Korea 31
North Korea tops the U.S. list of likely suspects with bioweapons programs.
In May 2002, John Bolton, then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control
and International Security, stated:

Despite the fact that its citizens are starving, the leadership in Pyongyang
has spent large sums of money to acquire the resources, including a
biotechnology infrastructure, capable of producing infectious agents, tox-
ins, and other crude biological weapons. It likely has the capability to pro-
duce suf¬cient quantities of biological agents for military purposes within
weeks of deciding to do so, and has a variety of means at its disposal for
delivering these deadly weapons.32

In February 2005, then-CIA Director Porter Goss testi¬ed, “We believe
North Korea has active CW and BW programs and probably has chemi-
cal and possibly biological weapons ready for use.”33
North Korea is believed to have begun development of a bioweapons
program in the 1960s. In 1980, North Korean Leader Kim Il Sung recognized
the ef¬cacy of using poisonous gas and bacteria during war and ordered the
“concentrated development of biological weapons.”34 The North Korean
Academy of National Defense organized biological laboratories, recruited
foreign scientists and microbiologists (mainly from the Soviet Union), and
imported bacteria cultures for producing anthrax, cholera, and plague
from Japan.
North Korea has experimented with nearly a dozen different types
of pathogens, weaponizing anthrax, cholera, tuberculosis, and typhus.
Reportedly, North Korea has developed a strain of anthrax similar to the for-
mer Soviet Union™s anthrax weapon that was specially treated to withstand
environmental stress. Half of North Korea™s long-range missiles and a third
of its artillery shells are capable of delivering bioweapons.35 More trou-
bling is the possibility that small groups of North Korean special operatives
might in¬ltrate a South Korean or U.S. base to disseminate lethal agents.
One expert testi¬es, “Such operations may be set into motion if the North
decides to conduct full-scale military operations against South Korea.”36
As an indication of North Korea™s plans for biological warfare, North Korea
continues to immunize members of its armed forces against smallpox.

Iran 37
Iran has been openly accused of offering training, weaponry, and safe
haven to a number of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Islamic
Jihad, and Hamas. It has also been accused of seeking to develop
bioweapons capabilities.38 The U.S. government has long suspected that
Iran has acquired biological weaponry and could launch a biological
warhead.39 According to a 1996 CIA report, “Iran has had a biological
warfare program since the early 1980s. Currently the program is in its
research and development stages, but we believe Iran holds some stocks
of BW agents and weapons.”40 These accusations are consistent with the
1988 statement of Hashemi Rafsanjani, then Speaker of the Iranian Parlia-
ment: “. . . we should fully equip ourselves in defensive and offensive use
of chemical, bacteriological, and radiological weapons.”41
More recently, Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples, the Director of
the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency testi¬ed, “We believe that Iran main-
tains offensive chemical and biological weapons capabilities in various
stages of development.”42 The U.S. Department of State™s 2005 Report on
Adherence and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Dis-
armament Agreements and Commitments asserts, “The Iranian BW pro-
gram has been embedded within Iran™s extensive biotechnology and phar-
maceutical industries so as to obscure its activities. The Iranian military has
used medical, education, and scienti¬c research organizations for many
aspects of BW-related agent procurement, research, and development.”43
Iran could support an independent bioweapons program with little
foreign assistance in view of its advanced biotechnology facilities, its phar-
maceutical and military infrastructure, and its highly trained personnel.
Various countries have exported sensitive biotechnologies to Iran. In 1989,
Canadian and Dutch of¬cials were approached by personnel from the Ira-
nian Research Organization for Science and Technology and the Iranian
Imam Reza Medical Center seeking to acquire mycotoxin-producing fungi.
Iran has also sought to acquire castor beans that could be used for pro-
ducing ricin and has several anthrax cultures. Iran allegedly hired former
Soviet bioweapons scientists to work on pathogens that cause diseases
such as marburg, plague, smallpox, and tularemia.44
According to U.S. of¬cials, Iran certainly has the capability to segregate
and cultivate lethal pathogens as well as the capability to weaponize them
for dispersal by artillery and aerial bombs.45 Moreover, Iran has conducted
chemical and biological defense military exercises with helicopter sprayers
and has worked with ballistic, cruise, and scud missiles. The Iranian
Shahab missile is capable of carrying biological warheads up to twelve

hundred miles, but no de¬nitive evidence shows that Iran has actually
developed a warhead for that purpose.

Syria 46
Syria has long been suspected of having an elementary biotechnology
industry capable of making offensive biological weapons. A 1997 Pentagon
report asserts, “Syria probably has an adequate biotechnical infrastruc-
ture to support a small biological warfare program, although the Syri-
ans are not believed to have begun any major weaponization or test-
ing related to biological warfare.” The report concludes that “[w]ithout
signi¬cant foreign assistance, it is unlikely that Syria could advance to
the manufacture of signi¬cant amounts of biological weapons for several
In the early 1970s, Syria received a limited biodefense capability includ-
ing biological protective equipment from the Soviet Union. This equip-
ment is now obsolete, and it is questionable if Syria has developed its pro-
tective capability any further. In the late 1980s, Syria invested signi¬cant
resources in its pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors by establishing
over twelve pharmaceutical factories. Although its biotechnology sector
likely has the resources to develop weapons, there is no con¬rmed proof
that Syria has stockpiled bioweapons.
In February 2006, the Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency
testi¬ed, “We believe Syria already has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin
and apparently has tried to develop a more toxic and persistent nerve
agent. We also believe the Syrian government maintains an offensive bio-
logical weapons research and development program.”48 Although Syria
signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, it has yet to ratify the


We should be no less worried about bioviolence by non-State terrorists
and fanatics than by States. Intelligence reports reveal that many terrorist
organizations have expressed interest in acquiring biological weapons.49
This worry is not new. In 1995, the Director of the CIA™s Nonproliferation
Center, Dr. Gordon C. Oehler, testi¬ed, “Extremist groups worldwide are
increasingly learning how to manufacture chemical and biological agents,
and the potential for additional chemical and biological attacks by such
groups continues to grow.”50 Then-FBI Director Louis Freeh declared,
“A growing number “ while still small “ of ˜lone offender™ and extremist

splinter elements of right-wing groups have been identi¬ed as possessing,
or attempting to develop or use [weapons of mass destruction].”51
Some experts assert that the biothreat has been grossly exaggerated.
That there have been no catastrophic bioviolence attacks as of this writ-
ing is evidence, goes the argument, that terrorists lack the intention and
capability to make bioweapons that can reach a western target.52 Asserting
that they lack intention seems baseless as the following discussion reveals.
Asserting that they lack capability might be well-founded for the moment
but offers absolutely no security for tomorrow. Indisputably, bioviolence
is getting easier to do so with every passing day.
A terrorist or criminal has scant need for a military-styled weapon
with precision control and therefore does not face stringent requirements
in developing a lethal device. Information about how to make biological
weapons is widely available on terror and hate websites.53 Targets include
just about anyone in an urban area as well as food and water supplies.
Even failure can be followed up with other attempts. Whatever signi¬cance
the taboo against in¬‚icting disease might have for States, it is obviously
irrelevant to terrorists, criminals, and lunatics. Of course, deterrence by
threat of retaliation is essentially meaningless for groups with suicidal
inclinations who likely intermingle with innocent civilians.

Readers should know that, as indicated above concerning State pro-
grams, it is impossible without highly classified information to confirm
allegations about terrorists™ interest in bioviolence. The following mate-
rial distills the publicly available information about terrorists, focusing on
Al Qaeda and associated international terror networks because there is so
much information available. However, there have been many bioviolence
hoaxes, and it is far easier to talk about doing bioviolence than actually
carrying out an attack.

Islamic Fundamentalist Interest in Bioviolence
The chief fear is about Al Qaeda and af¬liated Islamic Fundamentalist
organizations in roughly sixty-¬ve countries.54 Manifesting antipathy to
the United States and western allies, these groups have overtly proclaimed
their intention to develop and use bioweapons. If they are duplicitously
exaggerating their plans in order to spark unfounded anxiety, they are very
good at it.
As early as 1994, Osama bin Laden professed an interest in acquiring
weapons of mass destruction. The eleventh volume of Al Qaeda™s Encyclo-
pedia of Jihad is devoted to chemical and biological weapons.55 According

to the 9/11 Commission, Al Qaeda had long been planning to eliminate the
Jews in Iran by using air conditioning systems to pump poisons into the
buildings where they work.56 Al Qaeda has acknowledged that “biological
weapons are considered the least complicated and the easiest to manu-
facture of all weapons of mass destruction.”57 In a 1999 interview with a
Time Magazine reporter, bin Laden proclaimed:

Acquiring weapons for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty. If I have
indeed acquired these weapons [of mass destruction] then I thank God for
enabling me to do so. And if I seek to acquire these weapons, I am carrying
out a duty. It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons
that would prevent the in¬dels from in¬‚icting harm on Muslims.58

Moreover, an Al Qaeda website proclaimed that “these [biological]
weapons are also considered to be the most affordable. With $50,000 a
group of amateurs can possess a biological weapon suf¬cient to threaten
a superpower.”59 A memo perhaps written by Ayman al-Zawahri after the
African Embassy bombings in April 1999 declared, “The destructive power
of these [biological] weapons is no less than that of nuclear weapons.”60
Because disseminating biological agents to cause mass casualties is dif¬-
cult, low-scale attacks and assassinations should be undertaken:

Go to the supermarket where the American pigs shop. Observe him well
and make sure that you are close to him especially to his shopping cart . . . if
this pig puts some uncovered vegetables or fruit in his cart you should spray
this material (poison) on them when he is not paying attention . . . if you
can, it is preferable to stick the needle in the fruit.61

Al Qaeda™s Intentions
Al Qaeda leadership has not always favored use of WMD. According to a bin
Laden con¬dant, Abu Walid al-Misri, the Al Qaeda leadership before 9/11
debated whether to acquire weapons of mass destruction.62 Objections
focused on whether acquisition of such weapons might be strategically
unwise. The process of acquiring the weapons risked exposing operatives,
and delivery or dissemination of the weapon would be too challenging for
the group.
By 1998, rising concerns about a United States or Israeli strike against
Muslim nations evoked reconsideration of biological and other weapons of
mass destruction. At a meeting of the Majlis al-Shura™s, Al Qaeda™s govern-
ing council, the decision was made to acquire weapons of mass destruction
as a potential deterrent against the United States and allied aggression. A
biological attack against the United States was planned as a “second wave”

to be unleashed by Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks.63 After the U.S.-led inva-
sion into Afghanistan and Iraq, Al Qaeda proclaimed that WMD would be
used as a ¬rst-strike option in retaliation for mass casualties of Muslims.
Osama bin Laden proclaimed, “The time has come for us to be equal . . . Just
as you kill, you are killed. Just as you bombard, you are bombarded. Rejoice
at the harm coming to you.”64
Even in recent years as the war on terrorism has been chasing Al
Qaeda members, postings on the internet have included an article by ˜Abd
al-™Aziz al-Muqrin (Abu Hajir), an Al Qaeda fugitive in Saudi Arabia, calling
for supporters to attack the Saudi government with nuclear and biologi-
cal weapons.65 This view has been championed by the group™s strategists.


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