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US Military

Biological Weapons

Project: US Military
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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President Roosevelt orders the establishment of the US Biological Warfare program. [US Department of the Army, 2/26/2004]

Entity Tags: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US Army releases swarms of specially bred mosquitoes in Georgia and Florida as part of an experiment aimed at determining if disease-bearing insects could be used as carriers of biological weapons. The mosquitoes are of the Aedes Aegypti type, which is a carrier of dengue fever. [Blum, 1995, pp. 344]

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US government performs biological and/or chemical weapons tests in Florida, possibly exposing the civilian population to these agents. [Reuters, 10/10/2002]

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US government performs biological and/or chemical weapons tests in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The civilian population is possibly exposed to these dangerous weapons. [Reuters, 10/10/2002]

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, Key Events

As part of Project 112, the US military sprays a biological agent on barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. The agent is believed to be harmless but later shown to infect those with damaged immune systems. The program is coordinated by the Desert Test Center, part of a “biological and chemical weapons complex” in the Utah desert. [Associated Press, 10/8/2002; Associated Press, 10/9/2002] Civilians may have been exposed to the gases. [Reuters, 10/10/2002]

Entity Tags: Red Oak, Phase 1

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

Science magazine reports that at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where the United States’ offensive biological program is headquartered, dengue fever is among those diseases that are “objects of considerable research and that appear to be among those regarded as potential BW [biological warfare] agents.” [Blum, 1995] The biological warfare program is overseen by the US Army’s Chemical Warfare Service. [US Department of the Army, 2/26/2004]

Entity Tags: US Army Chemical Warfare Service

Category Tags: Biological Weapons

1968: US Sprays E.coli on Hawaiian Rainforest

The US government sprays two types of bacteria, one of which is E. coli, on a Hawaiian rainforest hoping to determine how long the bacteria will remain on the vegetation. The project is known as “Blue Tango.” [Associated Press, 7/1/2003]

Entity Tags: Blue Tango

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US government sprays bacillus globigii from a submarine “over part of Oahu, Hawaii, and over several boats off the coast, to gauge how Venezuelan equine encephalitis would be carried by wind.” The project is called, “Folded Arrow.” [Associated Press, 7/1/2003]

Entity Tags: Folded Arrow

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US government conducts tests for the purpose of establishing methods for deploying biological weapons from submarines. [Associated Press, 7/1/2003]

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

The Foundation for Economic Trends sues the US Department of Defense and forces it to acknowledge the existence of its chemical and biological weapons programs. The Pentagon admits that it is operating 127 chemical and biological warfare research sites in the US. Science magazine reports that the suit reveals that the “DoD is applying recombinant DNA techniques in research and the production of a range of pathogens and toxins including botulism, anthrax and yellow fever.” [Science Magazine, 2/27/1987]

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US Energy Department, Defense Department, and the CIA begin conducting classified biodefense programs. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003]

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

The 24th negotiating session convenes to negotiate a proposal to add an enforcement and verification protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). For three days, representatives from 55 member-states speak favorably of ending the negotiations and adopting the protocol. The mechanism would require member-states to annually declare their biodefense facilities and programs as well as any industrial facilities with capabilities to produce microbial cultures in quantity. Additionally, all member-states would be subject to random inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made. Inspections would also be conducted if a facility is suspected of illegally producing bioweapons; there are allegations of bioweapons use; or in the event of a disease outbreak suspected to be the result of the activities of a bioweapons facility.
Abrupt US Withdrawal - But on July 25, US Ambassador Donald Mahley announces that the US will block any consensus on the proposed changes to the convention. “The United States has concluded that the current approach to a protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention… is not, in our view, capable of… strengthening confidence in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention,” he says. “We will therefore be unable to support the current text, even with changes.” US opposition to the convention is based on fears that inspections of US facilities might harm the profits of US biotech companies and impede the United States’ current “biodefense” program. [US Department of State, 7/25/2001; CounterPunch, 10/25/2001; CNN, 11/1/2001; Common Dreams, 8/5/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003] While the protocols cannot guarantee with 100 percent accuracy that signatory nations will not violate the treaty, the participants in the negotiations are well aware of the limitations, and the impossibility of 100 percent verification. The protocols are designed to make it harder for signatories to cheat. But, as State Department official John Bolton says, that is no longer good enough for the US: “The time for ‘better than nothing’ proposals is over. It is time for us to work together to address the [biological weapons] threat.” However, instead of proposing stiffer verification proposals, the Bush administration will later propose much laxer “voluntary” standards (see November 19, 2001-December 7, 2001), and when those are rejected, will demand that further talks be postponed for four years. Bolton will later say of the treaty, “It’s dead, dead, dead, and I don’t want it coming back from the dead.” [Scoblic, 2008, pp. 186]
US 'Standing Alone' - Negotiations for the new treaty have been ongoing for seven years, and enjoyed the full support of the US under President Clinton. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the US is “practically standing alone in opposition to agreements that were broadly reached by just about everyone else.” After the US withdraws its support, the treaty conference will quickly be suspended. Chairman Tibor Toth will explain that delegates see no reason to continue without US participation: “In the light of the US concerns about the overall approach, it would be some sort of negotiations in a vacuum without the US being engaged. They were referring to the overwhelming role the US is playing in the industry. The US has more than one-third of the global industry and in the defense area, which is disproportionately higher than others.”
Bush Administration's 'Wholesale Assault on International Treaties' - Author and former National Security Council member Ivo Daalder says, “The [Bush] administration has, from day one, engaged in a wholesale assault on international treaties.” Daalder is referring, among other treaties, the Kyoto Protocols governing global warming that the Bush administration summarily rejected (see March 27, 2001). [CBS News, 7/24/2001; Chicago Sun-Times, 7/25/2001; Voice of America, 8/17/2001; Carter, 2004, pp. 271]

Entity Tags: Donald Mahley, Clinton administration, Ivo Daalder, Kofi Annan, Bush administration (43), Tibor Toth, John R. Bolton, Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, US International Relations

Category Tags: Biological Weapons

It is learned that the United States is developing weapons that undermine and possibly violate international treaties on biological and chemical warfare. For example, the CIA is “building and testing a cluster munition, modeled on a Soviet bioweapon, to spread biological agents.” [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003] And in the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency is planning to genetically engineer a Soviet strain of Bacillus anthracis (the causative agent of anthrax) that is thought to be antibiotic-resistant. [Guardian, 10/29/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003] Other biological and chemical weapons projects include the development of a rifle-launched gas grenade (see September 10, 2001) as well as non-lethal gases designed to knock people out such as the hallucinogenic BZ gas and fentanyl. [Guardian, 10/29/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Independent, 2/16/2003] Fentanyl was the gas used in October 2002 by Russian Special Forces against the Chechen rebels who were holding civilians hostage in a theatre. In that incident, the gas was responsible for killing most of the 120 people who died during the rescue operation. [Scotsman, 10/30/2002; Christian Science Monitor, 2/14/2003; Independent, 2/16/2003] The US claims that these weapons are for defensive and “law-enforcement” purposes only. For instance, calmative agents might be used by US troops for defensive purposes when confronting hostile crowds, fighting in cave systems, or taking prisoners. [Guardian, 10/29/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Independent, 2/16/2003]

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, Key Events

The US Army applies for a patent on a new rifle-launched gas grenade which is purportedly meant for non-lethal crowd control. It is designed to release aerosols “selected from the group consisting of smoke, crowd control agents, biological agents, chemical agents, obscurants, marking agents, dyes and inks, chaffs and flakes.” [United States Patent and Trademark Office, 2/25/2003; Global Security Newswire, 5/28/2003; San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9/2003] The patent is approved in February (see February 25, 2002) .

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, Key Events

A second attempt at crafting and ratifying the Biological Weapons and Toxin Convention (BWC) fails after US officials disrupt the negotiations with what the journal New Scientist calls “a last-minute demand it knew other governments would reject.” The conference members hoped to complete the negotiation of an enforcement and verification protocol. The BWC would ban all biological warfare, and would provide enforcement for the ban, something the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention lacks. The US scuttled earlier talks on the new convention by abruptly pulling out of the proceedings (see July 23-25, 2001). Though US officials continue to insist that the Bush administration is in favor of a new treaty, European Union officials now believe that the US has no intention of allowing any such treaty to be ratified. EU officials question if they can continue to work with US officials on any international arms control treaties. One hundred and forty-four nations are attempting to salvage the talks, but the US’s participation is considered critical. An hour before the talks were to wrap up for the week, the US introduces a demand to strike a mandate under which treaty members have been negotiating legally binding compliance measures. Other nations have long since accepted the legally binding mandate, and, until Friday afternoon, US delegates had not voiced an objection. When US officials suddenly demand that the mandate be “terminated” in favor of a measure that would merely require signatories to follow current technological developments, it sparks an uproar among other delegates from European and Asian countries. To prevent the outright failure of the Review Conference, the chairman suspends negotiations until November 2002. Oliver Meier of the arms-control lobbying group Vertic says: “[T]here was never a question of that [measure] substituting for the negotiating mandate. If the US wanted to discuss that it could have brought it up any time during the three weeks.” The last-minute demand, says Meier, “was obviously an attempt to sabotage the conference.” Jan van Aken of the Sunshine Project, a German-American anti-bioweapons group, calls the US officials “liars” and characterizes their behavior as “insulting.” EU officials refuse to continue meeting with US officials after the sudden demand. Elisa Harris of the Center for International and Security Studies says that a failure to reach an agreement on the treaty “would send a very bad signal to proliferators that the international community lacks the will to enforce compliance with the BWC.” [New Scientist, 12/10/2001; Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2/2002; Common Dreams, 8/5/2002; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003]

Entity Tags: Jan van Aken, New Scientist, Oliver Meier, Bush administration (43), Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Elisa Harris, European Union

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, US International Relations

Category Tags: Biological Weapons

April 2002: Anthrax Spores Leak in Maryland

Two leaks of Anthrax spores are detected at an Army biodefense research building at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. [Washington Post, 4/24/2002]

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

Scientists with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and a microbiologist from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York genetically reconstruct the “Spanish Flu” influenza virus that killed 20-40 million people in 1918. [Sunshine Project, 10/9/2003; Sunshine Project, 10/9/2003]

Entity Tags: Sunshine Project

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

A team of scientists, headed by Mark Buller of the University of St. Louis and funded by the US government, develops an extremely deadly form of mousepox. In experiments, the virus proves 100 percent lethal—even for mice that have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them. Bullers says his work is necessary in order to anticipate what bioterrorists might do. [New Scientist, 10/29/2003; Miami Herald, 10/31/2003]

Entity Tags: Mark Buller

Category Tags: Biological Weapons, Key Events

Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Don Sewell asserts in an email to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The Army and all other components of [Defense Department] have no plans, programs, or intentions to develop chemical or biological weapons prohibited by statute or treaty.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9/2003]

Entity Tags: Don Sewell

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons

When the United States’ patent on a rifle-launched gas grenade (see September 10, 2001) is publicized, it creates a controversy because the development of any “delivery system for use as a weapon” that contains “biological agents” is a violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the US Biological Weapons Antiterrorism Act of 1989 which prohibit developing devices for delivering biological weapons agents. Miguel Morales, the public affairs officer for the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Aberdeen, Md., who oversaw development of the grenade, claims that the inventors and patent attorney had wrongly described the invention when they said it could release chemical and biological agents. “The attorney and the inventors were simply trying to claim their invention as broadly as legally entitled,” Morales claims, adding, “It is clear now, in hindsight, that inserting the term chemical or biological ‘agents’ was unfortunate.… There was never any intent to use this for chemical or biological warfare agents.” [Global Security Newswire, 5/28/2003; San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9/2003]

Entity Tags: Miguel Morales

Category Tags: Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons

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