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19 May 2004 11:00:00 Est - Updated
Contact: Stephen M. Apatow  (203) 668-0282

Terrorist Threat Escalates as Weapons of Mass Destruction are Used in Iraq

Two soldiers suffered exposure to the nerve agent sarin when a homemade bomb exploded on a road near Baghdad early Saturday morning, said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, spokeswoman for coalition forces in Baghdad (Two soldiers exposed to sarin when roadside bomb explodes).  The detonation of the artillery round containing the deadly toxic nerve agent sarin comes just days after a separate 155mm artillery shell was found containing mustard gas, also rigged to explode (US forces destroy shell containing chemical agent).

These incidents provide evidence that Iraq's hidden stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons may be under the control of the insurgent/terrorist factions. 

According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Proliferation Brief, Vol. 5, No. 11, August 28, 2002)

"After the Gulf War, UNSCOM destroyed more than 480,000 liters of chemical agents and 1.8 million liters of chemical precursors in Iraq. Because of the size of the Iraqi program, however, it is widely believed that significant quantities of chemical agents and precursors remain stored in secret depots. U.N. officials have publicly expressed their doubts that the entire Iraqi stockpile of chemical weapons was found. Rough estimates conclude that Iraq may have retained up to 600 metric tons of agents, including VX, mustard gas and sarin. There are thousands of possible chemical munitions still unaccounted for."

Discussions associated with biological weapons, specifically smallpox, have been raised by Selgelid, M. J. (Smallpox Revisited? The American Journal of Bioethics 3(1): InFocus, 2003): 

“The WINPAC (Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center) report assessed that Iraq ‘retained samples from the 1971 outbreak.’” According to one official, speaking about Iraq and North Korea: “‘The assessment is, they have it.’ … ‘We don’t say 70 percent certainty. We assess that they have it.'

If smallpox is used as a weapon the effects could be catastrophic. In light of dwindling worldwide immunity, experts warn that a bioterrorist attack could trigger a global epidemic (Broad 2001). Modeling of potential smallpox attacks has shown the
destruction expected by (perhaps a series of) nuclear attacks(s)."

Prior to its eradication, smallpox afflicted up to 15 million people annually, of whom some two million died with millions more left disfigured and sometimes blind. Had smallpox not been eradicated, the past twenty years would have witnessed some 350 million new victims -- roughly the combined population of the USA and Mexico -- and an estimated 40 million deaths -- a figure equal to the entire population of Spain or South Africa (Preventing a WMD September 11).

WMD terrorism presents the challenge of mass casualties, the closure of roads, airports and waterways causing interstate and international commerce to potentially grind to a halt as containment and control becomes the priority.

Related Information

Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities: Workshop Summary (2002)
Institute of Medicine

In the wake of September 11th and recent anthrax events, our nation's bioterrorism response capability has become an imminent priority for policymakers, researchers, public health officials, academia and the private sector.


Appendix B: Information Resources - Educational and Research Institutions

Stephen M. Apatow, President and Director of Research and Development, of the nonprofit organization Humanitarian Resource Institute, is a specialist in strategic planning and project development of initiatives associated with human medicine, veterinary medicine and U.S. and international law. Current programs include the internet based Biodefense Reference Library, Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, Bioinformatics: Pathobiological Diagnostics Center and Biodefense Legal Reference Library. To enhance collaboration between Humanitarian Resource Institute and the international community of scholars, the Humanitarian University Consortium was formed to enhance the development of initiatives associated with economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues worldwide.

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