This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Intelligence sources around the world believe that Iran has been engaged for years in the development of an arsenal of biological and chemical weapons and has the largest storage supply of chemical weapons in the world. We are talking about chemical weapons of the types that contain substances ‘that cause burns, asphyxiation, as well as blood and nerve damage’. Other experts have determined following an analysis of the biological – chemical activities of Iranian factories and according to data gathered from satellite tracking – that Iran’s research programs in the field of chemical weapons are as ambitious as its nuclear weapons plans.
By Ami Dor-on
The letter “C” in the abbreviation ‘CBRN’ (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) is perceived as representing a type of weapon, one of many types involved in biological warfare. Unfortunately there is no more mistaken perception in the public’s understanding of this subject and maybe it’s time to reveal the terrible dangers that weapons of this kind carry under their demonic wings.
In the most simplest terms: biological weapons are a means of mass destruction resulting in a chain reaction of physical damage much more severe than that which takes place during a nuclear explosion. The nature of a nuclear chain reaction that occurs in a split second when nuclei explode is that they release more exploding particles which results in a short but instantly destructive burst of energy. The chain reaction resulting from biological warfare results in damage that extends over hours and days.
The nature of the damage from chemical warfare can be described as follows: a few destructive bacteria or viruses enter the body of a healthy person through normal breathing of air or through drinking water. These destructive elements multiply rapidly in the human body and are communicable to other people infecting them rapidly. An exposed and diseased person’s body acts like a “nuclear reactor” that produces, effectively, additional fighting material on behalf of the attacker.
There are different ways to disperse the biological microorganisms, from the payloads of launched missiles, bombs and shells bearing biological warheads, to airborne spraying from aircraft, hand sprayers, or the detonation of small explosives loaded with deadly germs, and even the contamination of reservoirs of drinking water. Any person who engages in this field is clearly aware that of all the types of weapons of mass destruction available today- biological weaponry are the most dangerous. While chemical weapons work only in a limited area where there is a high concentration of toxic material (gas, for example), the biological agent can cause an epidemic which can spread throughout local populations which are then distributed across wider territories.
Iraq, during the murderous reign of Saddam Hussein, was a country that specialized in the biological-chemical death industry –knowing that those weapons production costs were lower than the production costs for nuclear weapons. Studies by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) show that from 1985, the Iraqis produced about 50 tons of mustard gas every year in a chemical factory in Samara and used it against the Kurds. The Samara plant assisted by knowledge gained from European companies created deadly nerve gases – Sarin and Tabun. These gaseous materials were highly toxic to mammals, and developed in 1936 by a German chemist. In the years that followed, scientists around the world have developed a number of deadly “important” extras like: botulinum toxin, anthrax epidemic toxin, and virus epidemic of smallpox.
The Iraqis did not stop at producing chemical killing materials. They also invested considerable resources in developing capabilities to deliver these murderous preparations to enemy targets. During the war with Iran (1980-1988) Iraqi scientists developed tactical and strategic level offensive capabilities. The Iraqi Artillery Corps, for example, used G-5 cannons, with a range of 42 km, loaded with shells carrying chemical and biological payloads. The Iraqis simultaneously also developed unique warheads with chemical and biological means of destruction, resistant to high temperatures, which could be launched by various types of Scud missiles.
Iran has also been engaged for years in the development of an arsenal of biological and chemical weapons. Western intelligence sources are convinced that Iran has the world’s largest repository of chemical weapons and databases containing “substances that cause burns, asphyxiation, blood and nerves damages” including technological means to transfer these materials into enemy territory. Experts also state that the analysis of the biological activity of Iranian biological-chemical production plants – according to satellite tracking – indicates that Iran’s research programs in the field of chemical weapons is as ambitious as its nuclear weapons plans.
What, in fact, is the nature of these nerve gases and bacteria epidemics? Let’s start with the epidemics: smallpox is a contagious airborne disease caused by a virus passing from person to person. Smallpox annihilated millions of people all over the world and probably was the most deadly disease in history, until a vaccine was found. In 1986 the World Health Organization recommended that all of the world’s major research labs work to develop vaccines which could prevent a viral smallpox epidemic. Most countries complied with the directive except for the Soviet Union. Concern in the West regarding ‘behind the scene’ secret activities of the Soviets was not stemmed from the fear of Soviet Union weapons use, but from fear that information and weapons might spill over to third countries such as Libya, Iraq, Iran and others.
The best known plague in the biological weapons field is anthrax. Anthrax bacterium is one of the most toxic known to man and was awarded the title ‘the Invisible Killer’. It appears as a powdery suspension which works to penetrate a person’s airways. The biggest danger is its stability in all conditions (heat, cold) and the fact that it remains active even after many decades. Other toxic bacteria, not epidemic, is BOTULINUM origins from spoiled food, and its main threat comes from its potential to be fatal, if not given proper treatment at the right time.
Not like epidemics, gases kill people by causing respiratory muscle damage. Most familiar of all these gases is the mustard gas. The material from which the gas is produced is a viscous and colorless fluid. In its military use it is mixed with other materials and has a vivid yellow-brown color and smells similar to that of mustard. Extensive military use of mustard gas was made in World War I in the ‘War of the Trenches’. A more deadly gas is SARIN which, like other nerve gases, enters the human body through breathing or bare skin as it destroys the communications capability of the nervous systems of human muscles. The result is that all the capabilities of communication between the brain and the body stops working, affecting activities such as breathing as well as body openings, followed by paralysis. Death comes almost immediately with suffering.
Anyone who is familiar with biological-chemical weapons knows that for years since the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mankind has invested considerable effort in developing more terrifying means of death – bacteria, a variety of infectious epidemics, and biological and chemical killing products as well. But not all bacteria are designed to eliminate only humans. Human innovation has also brought about biological toxins that are not directed at humans, but against the areas that provide livelihood to humanity. And since accessibility to these deadly materials is relatively easy and could easily be injected into a targeted area, these materials have become a serious and most dangerous weapon in the hands of terrorists. This could offer a serious and dire threat against the existence of the Western world today, and to be more specific – over the United States.
What is, in fact, this danger? A fundamentalist terrorist organization can acquire information on the technologies for developing harmful infectious epidemic bacteria that destroys a variety of crops. These bacteria do not need to be spread over the entire territory of the United States. It is enough to have smuggled these viruses into the U.S. as part of a diplomatic cargo and to move them to a farm or two in each state. A far reaching epidemic can start on these farms and spread across the U.S. affecting wide agricultural spaces. Anyone who is familiar with world economics knows that the U.S. is the world’s largest granary. The U.S. produces wheat, soybeans and corn, for example, far beyond its own consumption. Its vast reserves are sold in world markets to provide food and sustenance to the worlds’ population. Hoarding, in such a situation, is an aggregate response with the surplus to be used as a strategic storage “just in case”.
The U.S. government is aware of the danger agricultural terrorism presents. More than a few U.S. congressional committees held hearings in recent years inviting experts who told lawmakers the nature of the risks. It is likely that quite a few branches of the U.S. government are engaged in developing defensive mechanisms in preparations against the threat that so far has not been realized. The ultimate fear of such a terrorist scenario is that the end result would be global hunger and the collapse of countries.
Today the world is not exposed to the significance of the biological threat as it is exposed to the nuclear threat, and most countries are usually not alert to such a situation nor has there been any effort made to bring such concern to the consciousness of their citizens. One possible explanation for the lack of preparedness for the protection of the public for war biodiversity is that protection against this kind of war is not passive but a deterrent. In other words, any Islamic terrorist organization or a fundamentalist country financing terror must know that those who dare attack the United States, or for example, Israel, with biological-chemical weapons of mass destruction, should expect a devastating response.
There is no dispute that a state, responsible for the safety and security of its citizens, must be prepared for any possible threat, including a biological threat. For this reason, it is reasonable to assume, that Israeli scientists at the Institute of Biological Research are dealing with finding a solution to the questions rising from the threat of biological warfare. Prima facie proof to this can be found on the official website of the institute where the following facts are mentioned: “The Institute was established in 1952. It is under the Prime Minister’s Office and works closely with the Defense Ministry. The institute is known as the body dealing with, among other things, development of defense against biological weapons and chemical weapons”. As a contrast by some and reflecting on the use of biological agents, “Alongside its security classified activities, the Institute is also involved in visible civil activity, including the development of diagnostic tools for infectious diseases.”
The scientific importance that Israel dedicates to the work of the Institute can be assessed by examination of the figures that are also listed on the Biological Institute website: The Institute employs approximately 350 employees, including approximately 150 scientists with doctorates in biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, chemistry physics, pharmacology, mathematics, physics and environmental sciences. They work alongside 160 technicians.
Following the Marcus Klingberg spy affair, Klingberg, was employed as a Senior Scientific position in the Institute and for years provided critical information to his Russian superiors. It is likely that Israel’s enemies who had connections with the former Soviet Union and today to Russia, clearly understand what they can expect if they were to decide to turn biological or chemical weapons against Israel. Understanding this point, it is easier to realize why these enemies remain careful in keeping their “poor man’s nuclear weapon” threat as an option, one not yet ready to be fulfilled.