Chemical and biological warfare has been used long before World War One. As early as the Stone Age (4500-2000 BC), arrows were tipped with poison for use in hunting and in battle.
The ancient Chinese used arsenic compounds in smoke bombs as far back as 1 000 BC. They called the deadly smoke a “soul-hunting fog.”
During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) Spartans used bombs made of sulphur and pitch to overcome the enemy. During ancient and medieval times, soldiers sometimes threw bodies of plague victims over the walls of besieged cities, or into water wells.
During the French and Indian wars in North America (1689-1763), blankets used by smallpox victims were given to American Indians in the hope they would carry the disease.
The first deadly gas attack came in April 1915 when the German Army dropped chlorine gas over the Allied trenches in Ypress, Belgium, Within weeks the British retaliated with a chlorine attack. The deadly rally of chemical warfare was on. In 1918 both sides used mustard gas, which seeped through masks, burning skin and searing lungs.
Chemicals were also used during the Iran-Iraq conflict (1980 – 1988), a war that claimed a million victims. Iraq continued to use chemical weapons against the Kurdish minorities in the country.
In 1993 another global convention banning the production and stockpiling of chemical warfare agents was signed by more than 100 countries.
The largest chemical weapons factory is in Kazakhstan, a leftover from the Soviet era. It still is ten times larger than any other chemical weapons production plant.
Botulinum toxin (BTX)
One gram of this deadly poison can kill hundreds of thousands of people. It is one of the most feared chemical weapons in existence. Produced by the Clostridium botulinum anaerobic bacterium, it’s seven different neurotoxins attach to proteins inside human nerve cells and block the chemicals used to communicate with muscles, paralyzing breathing muscles, eventually suffocating the victim.
But is also is this very property that has benefits: administered in minute quantities, it reduces painful muscle contractions… and drooling, sweating and wrinkles! It is used as cosmetic treatments under the brand names Botox, Dysport and Myobloc.
Clostridium spores are found in soil all over the world and can easily contaminate food or a wound infection. Theoretically, in the wrong hands a few grams can kill every human on earth.
Anthrax is a disease caused by a spore-forming bacterium (Bacillus anthracis) that lives in soil, water, and vegetation. It is most commonly found in agricultural regions. Although it can be transmitted through the air deaths from anthrax is EXTREMELY RARE and it is fairly easily cured when treated early. Most countries have ample supplies of anti-microbial treatments readily available.
History of chemical weapons
400 BC: Spartan Greeks use sulfur fumes against enemy soldiers.
1346: Crimean Tatars catapult plague-infected corpses into Italian trade settlement.
1500s: Spanish conquistadors use biological warfare used against Native peoples.
1763: British Gen. Jeffrey Amherst orders use of smallpox blankets against Native peoples during Pontiac’s Rebellion.
1800s: Blankets infected with smallpox deliberately given to Native Americans, causing widespread epidemics.
1907: Hague Convention outlaws chemical weapons; U.S. does not participate.
1914: World War I begins; poison gas produces 100,000 deaths, 900,000 injuries.
1920s: Britain uses chemical weapons in Iraq “as an experiment” against Kurdish rebels seeking independence; Winston Churchill “strongly” backs the use of “poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”
1928: Geneva Protocol prohibits gas and bacteriological warfare; most countries that ratify it prohibit only the first use of such weapons.
1935: Italy begins conquest of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), using mustard gas.
1936: Japan invades China, uses chemical weapons in war.
1939: World War II begins; neither side uses bio-chemical arms, due to fears of retaliation in kind.
1941: U.S. enters World War II; President Roosevelt pledges U.S. will not be first to use bio-chemical weapons.
1945: Japanese military discovered to have conducted biological warfare experiments on POWs, killing 3000. U.S. shields officers in charge from war crimes trials, in return for data.
1947: U.S. possesses germ warfare weapons; President Truman withdraws Geneva Protocol from Senate consideration.
1949: U.S. dismisses Soviet trials of Japanese for germ warfare as “propaganda.” Army begins secret tests of biological agents in U.S. cities.
1950: Korean War begins; North Korea and China accuse U.S. of germ warfare – charges still not proven. San Francisco disease outbreak matching Army bacteria used on city.
1951: African-Americans exposed to potentially fatal simulant in Virginia test of race-specific fungal weapons.
1956: Army manual explicitly states that bio-chemical warfare is not banned.
1959: House resolution against first use of bio-chemical weapons is defeated.
1962: Chemical weapons loaded on U.S. planes during Cuban missile crisis.
1966: Army germ warfare experiment in New York subway system.
1969: Utah chemical weapons accident kills thousands of sheep; President Nixon declares U.S. moratorium on chemical weapons production and biological weapons possession. U.N. General Assembly bans use of herbicides (plant killers) and tear gasses in warfare; U.S. one of three opposing votes. U.S. has caused tear gas fatalities in Vietnamese guerrilla tunnels.
1971: U.S. ends direct use of herbicides such as Agent Orange; had spread over Indochinese forests, and destroyed at least six percent of South Vietnamese cropland, enough to feed 600,000 people for a year.
1972: Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. Cuba accuses CIA of instilling swine fever virus that leads to death of 500,000 hogs.
1974: U.S. finally ratifies 1928 Geneva Protocol.
1975: Indonesia annexes East Timor; planes spread herbicides on croplands.
1979: Washington Post reports on U.S. program against Cuban agriculture since 1962, including CIA biological warfare component.
1980: U.S. intelligence officials allege Soviet chemical use in Afghanistan, while admitting “no confirmation.” Congress approves nerve gas facility in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
1981: U.S. accuses Vietnam and allies of using mycotoxins (fungal poisons) in Laos and Cambodia. Some refugees report casualties; one analysis reveals “yellow rain” as bee feces. Israel bombs Iraqi nuclear reactor, leading to Iraqi decision to build chemical weapons.
1984: U.N. confirms Iraq using mustard and nerve gasses against Iranian “human wave” attacks in border war; State Department issues mild condemnation, yet restores diplomatic relations with Iraq, and opposes U.N. action against Iraq. Bhopal fertilizer plant accident in India kills 2000; shows risks of chemical plants being damaged in warfare.
1985: U.S. resumes open-air testing of biological agents.
1986: U.S. resumes open-air testing of biological agents.
1987: Senate ties in three votes on resuming production of chemical weapons; Vice President Bush breaks all three ties in favor of resumption.
1988: Iraq uses chemical weapons against Kurdish minority in Halabjah; U.S. continues to maintain agricultural credits with Iraq; President Reagan blocks congressional sanctions against Iraq.
1989: Paris conference of 149 nations condemns chemical weapons, urges quick ban to emerge from Geneva treaty negotiations; U.S. revealed to plan poison gas production even after treaty signed.
1990: U.S., Soviets pledge to reduce chemical weapons stockpiles to 20 percent of current U.S. supply by 2002, and to eliminate poison gas weapons when all nations have signed future Geneva treaty. Israel admits possession of chemical weapons; Iraq threatens to use chemical weapons on Israel if it is attacked.
1991: U.S. and Coalition forces bomb at least 28 alleged bio- chemical production or storage sites in Iraq during Gulf War, including fertilizer and other civilian plants. CNN reports “green flames” from one chemical plant, and the deaths of 50 Iraqi troops from anthrax after air strike on another site. New York Times quotes Soviet chemical weapons commander that air strikes on Iraqi chemical weapons would have “little effect beyond neighboring villages,” but that strikes on biological weapons could spread disease “to adjoining countries.” Czechoslovak chemical warfare unit detects sarin nerve gas during air war. Egyptian doctor reports outbreak of “strange disease” inside Iraq. U.S. troops use explosives to destroy Iraqi chemical weapons storage bunkers after the war.
1992: Reports intensify of U.S. and Allied veterans of Gulf War developing health problems, involving a variety of symptoms, collectively called Gulf War Syndrome. U.N. sanctions intensify civilian health crisis inside Iraq, making identification of similar symptoms potentially difficult.
1993: President Clinton continues intermittent bombing and missile raids against Iraqi facilities; U.N. inspectors step up program to dismantle Iraqi weapons. U.S. signs U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention, but approval later blocked in Senate.
1995: Japanese cult launches deadly sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo subway system.
1996: Congressional hearings on Gulf War Syndrome focuses on Iraqi storage bunker destruction, rather than other possible causes, and does not call for international investigation of symptoms among Iraqis.
1997: Cuba accuses U.S. of spraying crops with biological agents . Iraq expels U.S. citizens in U.N. inspection teams, which are allowed to continue work without Americans, but choose to evacuate all inspectors. U.S. mobilizes for military action.
1998: U.S. again bombs alleged Iraqi bio-chemical weapons sites, after Iraq questions the role of American UN inspector, restricts inspector access to presidential properties ans security. U.S. launches missile attack on a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that it alleges produces nerve gas agents–a claim disputed by most of the international community.
1998-99: Series of anthrax hoaxes against U.S. targets, such as NBC, Washington Post, State Department, White House complex. post offices. Former Aryan Nations member Larry Wayne Harris carries out anthrax hoax to dramatize warning of alleged “Iraqi threat.” Three members of Republic of Texas militia group arrested for intention to use anthrax and other biological weapons against public officials. Upsurger in anthrax hoaxes against abortion clinics.
2000: “Topoff Exercise” involving federal and state authorities fails to cope with simulated chemical, biological and nuclear attacks in three widely separated metropolitan areas.
2001: U. S. withdraws from July’s first round of Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC), crippling international efforts to establish global measures against biological weapons. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, anthrax spores sent by mail to multiple political and media targets around the U.S., resulting in anthrax exposures, infections and deaths. Law enforcement authorities debate whether the source of anthrax is foreign or domestic. Real anthrax attacks accompanied by enormous increase in anthrax hoaxes by “Army of God” and other groups and individuals.