In light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which has caused rapid and substantial harm to many nations and lives of their citizens, analysts are reluctantly starting to look at the possibility that certain countries may resort to the use of biological weapons capable of causing mass deaths. Germ warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents, such as bacteria, viruses, insects, and fungi, that are biological in origin with the intent to kill people, animals and plants. Designing microorganisms that cause disease and means of spreading them among target populations are all part of biological warfare.
In the military, the concept of weaponizing germs has existed for a long time. After all, epidemics that happened during wars resulted in substantial losses of troops, and this, in turn, had a significant impact on the way the conflict unfolded as well as its outcome. For example, during the Vietnam War, US troops lost more (approximately 3-fold) servicemen to disease than during military operations (injuries and deaths). Epidemics among civilian populations away from battlefields also had very negative consequences, resulting in serious issues in manufacturing and logistics sectors and, overall, problems in governance.
Hence, it is not surprising that the United States — responsible for unleashing more armed conflicts than any other country in recent years and for launching numerous military interventions in regions all over the world — has been constantly ramping up its research into biological warfare, mainly through the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). One of the key aims of its biological technologies branch is to conduct studies on germs.
It is worth reminding our readers that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) was open for signature on 10 April 1972. It entered into force on 26 March 1975 when twenty-two governments deposited their instruments of ratification of this Convention with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. To date, 163 nations signed the BWC, thus agreeing not to develop, product or stockpile biological weapons. Although the United States ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, it did not sign an internationally binding verification protocol to the BWC from 2001. Hence, there are no mechanisms in place to check whether the USA is complying with the convention.