A new rifle-launched gas grenade, invented by the U.S. Army ostensibly for nonlethal crowd control, has created a stir because the patent filed on the
technology claims that it can deliver chemical and biological agents, two payloads forbidden by international treaty and U.S. law.
Greg Aharonian, editor of the Internet Patent News Service in San Francisco,
helped stir the tempest last week by e-mailing selected portions of patent number 6,523,478, filed by the Army on Sept. 10, 2001, and granted by the
Patent Office in February.
The patent describes how to create a "rifle-launched non-lethal" projectile 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."