The following is part of a series of articles from Chris Tolworthy reposted here with kind permission. The articles together ask many questions about the September 11 atrocity and its aftermath, as well as looking into it from numerous angles. The articles are split into a number of pages on this site (which you can follow using the links at the bottom).
Bioterrorism - and how to prevent it.
Bioterrorism, like all other forms of crime, can be best prevented by the law. When we choose other "solutions" we just make things worse. The following material is mainly from New Scientist magazine, in a series of articles on bioterrorism. New Scientist, though "popular" in its style, is a serious magazine, read by close to 100% of scientists in the UK and many others around the world.
Any discussion of biological weapons leads to the question of Iraq1. In the west, Iraq is believed to be developing biological, chemical, nuclear, and other weapons of mass destruction. However, much of the evidence2 is weak or ambiguous at best.
America opposes legal measures to end bioterrorism
The international community agreed the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), aimed at various measures to prevent bioterrorism, and took six years to get it right. But this was blocked by the United States in July 2001.
In October, America was targeted by its own anthrax weapons. In November, the Unites States decided to agree to the inspections, as long as they were watered down.
The other 143 countries were still willing to compromise, but eventually the US killed the agreement again.
Ken Alibek is perhaps the world's foremost expert on biological weapons, He defected from the Russian bio-weapons programme, and believes that biological warfare is possible, even likely. However, terrorists do not have the know-how to make the stuff, and the danger comes from stealing stuff that governments (particularly the collapsed Soviet Union) have already made.
So, despite having access to all the information on the Internet, despite having the world's most advanced equipment, an American terrorist could not develop these things even if he wanted to. If a American terrorist cannot, how could a foreign terrorist? When asked what we can do to protect ourselves from this threat, Alibek says nothing about bombing (after all, who would we bomb?) He also has no faith in treaties, but he knows exactly how to protect people: use good organisation and science!
When assessing a nation's biological weapons capacity, it's important to remember that the weapons may be harder to deliver than to produce. Thisis according to Raymond Zilinskas, an associate professor at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, who participated in two United Nations biological weapons inspections in Iraq
Where is the greatest threat of biological weapons?
It started when journalists began asking why the American authorities had begun to "drag their feet" over the anthrax investigations. It appeared that they had good evidence about who was likely to be involved, but did not want to go further. The following may look like a classic conspiracy theory, but it is based on a responsible piece of investigative journalism by the BBC "Newsnight" team:
America has not created chemical and biological weapons for offensive use since the 1960s. However, it still develops them for "defensive" use.(10) Remember that every state that has such weapons claims that they are "defensive." And every nation believes that it is only the other nations who pose a threat.