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Are Chemical Weapons as much a threat as Nuclear Weapons?

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posted on Apr, 26 2006 @ 11:46 AM
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Reading the thread about the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear accident, one is also reminded of the terrible suffering of the local population around the Union Carbide site in Bhopal, India.

On 2/3 December 1984, 27 tons of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) began leaking from the storage tanks on the Union Carbide site. 6 separate safety systems all failed to work, leading to a massive cloud of poisonous gas enveloping the local population while many of them slept. They stood no chance. Estimates are that at least 20,000 people died as a direct result of this horrendous incident. There are also some 120,000 people who continue to suffer the effects of this leak.

The following extract from the website below is a graphic and appalling account of the suffering these people endured and continue to endure:



www.bhopal.org...

"Those who fell were not picked up by anybody, they just kept falling, and were trampled on by other people. People climbed and scrambled over each other to save their lives – even cows were running and trying to save their lives and crushing people as they ran." In those apocalyptic moments no one knew what was happening. People simply started dying in the most hideous ways. Some vomited uncontrollably, went into convulsions and fell dead. Others choked to death, drowning in their own body fluids. Many died in the stampedes through narrow gullies where street lamps burned a dim brown through clouds of gas. The force of the human torrent wrenched children's hands from their parents' grasp. Families were whirled apart," reported the Bhopal Medical Appeal in 1994.

"The poison cloud was so dense and searing that people were reduced to near blindness. As they gasped for breath its effects grew ever more suffocating. The gases burned the tissues of their eyes and lungs and attacked their nervous systems. People lost control of their bodies. Urine and feces ran down their legs. Women lost their unborn children as they ran, their wombs spontaneously opening in bloody abortion." According to Rashida Bi, a survivor who lost five gas-exposed family members to cancers, those who escaped with their lives “ are the unlucky ones; the lucky ones are those who died on that night.”


This is a graphic illustration of how chemicals are potentially as devastating in the hands of those who wish to use Weapons of Mass Destruction. While the current focus of the WoT is on Iranian Uranium Enrichment [try saying that 6 times when drunk
] we must not forget that it doesn't necessarily take nuclear weapons to cause death on a massive scale....


[edit on 26/4/2006 by 5ick8oy]

[edit on 26/4/2006 by 5ick8oy]




posted on Apr, 26 2006 @ 12:19 PM
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The title of your thread is overwhelmingly misleading. It really suggests that the Bhopal event was an act of terrorism.

From what I know, the equipment at Bhopal was in a bad shape. If the safety systems did work, the disaster wouldn't have happened. I surmise therefore that any attempt by terrorists to attack a chemical facility have a very low chance of success, which is all the lower since I'm sure there aren't many sites like Bhopal in close vicinity of population centers in the United States.



posted on Apr, 26 2006 @ 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by Aelita
The title of your thread is overwhelmingly misleading. It really suggests that the Bhopal event was an act of terrorism.


You're right Aelita. I'm gunna change title. Cheers.


From what I know, the equipment at Bhopal was in a bad shape. If the safety systems did work, the disaster wouldn't have happened. I surmise therefore that any attempt by terrorists to attack a chemical facility have a very low chance of success [...]


I don't disagree with any of what you say. The thread was really a reference to the 'effect' that chemicals can have on concentrations of people and how the current focus of the WoT is about stopping 'nuclear' proliferation in Iran. Yet Iran have had the ability to produce chemical weapons for a considerable number of years.


I'm sure there aren't many sites like Bhopal in close vicinity of population centers in the United States.


It is interesting though that Union Carbide appeared to be happy to put their Bhopal site close to a population centre. I wonder if they would have put a similar facility as close to a town had they built it in the US?? A rhetorica question as it's not really relevant to the thread...



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 07:27 AM
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On Bhopal - UC had passed the plant over to local management control and it was poor operating procedures that lead to the disaster. I'm sure there are many many plants close to populations in the 'west' - ICI Runcorn (as was) for one - load of nasties made there.

On chem weapons in terms of effect per pound weight a nuke / radiation device has far more effect than chem but if you're near a chem weapon when it goes off (for example in the Tube) then you're just as dead.

Search for the chemical suitcase bomb - very 'kin scary and unfortunately quite easy to make; if (when) 'AQ' gets over its bang fetish and starts to produce & set off these the effect in cities would be devastating



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 11:40 AM
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im more worried about BIO weapons than nukes - the russians weaponised Ebola years ago - they also have chimera`d it with anthrax.

the administraiton doesn`t understand the danger of bio agents - Dr Bill Patrick walked into a briefing at the pentagon , talked about anthrax then rolled a phile across the table - and nothing could even detect it.

inside was inert but very real anthrax.

the other man involved in the US (now) is Colonel Kanatjan Alibekov - but even his data is 14 years out of date now.



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 11:54 AM
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To answer the question in the title of the thread, I think that the chem and nuclear are just too different types of threat. In terms of probability of actual use, the chem device is more of a threat -- remember the Tokyo subway attack? In terms of the long term damage, a nuclear device is infinitely more potent and can leave a large population center completely devastated, which no chemical weapon can ever do. If I was doing planning of the security measures and such, I'd be more concerned about the nuke.



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 01:04 PM
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Chemical weapons are very deadly, but somewhat difficult to manufacture for low tech terrorist groups, However Im sure governments, specifically say ex-soviet states have stockpiles that will just have to be destroyed anyway, so why wouldnt they sell it to terrorists?

The soviets had vast stockpiles of soman gas.

Nerve agents are a bit more difficult to produce than say a blistering agent such as mustard gas.


look for mustard gas being produced and possibly used in a future chemical weapons attack.

sulphur etheylene dichloride......probably within the capabilities of terrorists of producing.


BTW love the avatar sickboy, I especially liked his role in Hackers.....



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 02:24 PM
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Originally posted by XphilesPhan
look for mustard gas being produced and possibly used in a future chemical weapons attack.


Yeah. The 'old' ones are the best as they say. Not very sophisticated but effective (especially in confined area's like subways) and from a psychological point of view, pretty terrifying if you're nearby (and not dead)...



BTW love the avatar sickboy, I especially liked his role in Hackers.....


Thanks. It's a long story as to how I got the tag, but that's for another thread.......



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 02:42 PM
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Originally posted by Aelita
To answer the question in the title of the thread, I think that the chem and nuclear are just too different types of threat. In terms of probability of actual use, the chem device is more of a threat -- remember the Tokyo subway attack?


I agree that the likelihood is that Chem weapons will be used before we got to the Nuke option given that they are 'simpler' in terms of manufacture and deployment.


In terms of the long term damage, a nuclear device is infinitely more potent and can leave a large population center completely devastated, which no chemical weapon can ever do.


Again it's a fair point. Personally in terms of the original question, I take the view that the likelihood of use is a factor when considering threat as well as the scale of the damage. Nevertheless, a Nuke, if used, would clearly be significantly more devastating, both in the short and the long term.


If I was doing planning of the security measures and such, I'd be more concerned about the nuke.


Possibly, although again I feel 'probability of use' should again be a big factor. As you pointed out, Shoko Asahara and his Aum Shinri Kyo group have already demonstrated how chemicals can be used as an effective weapon of terror. So while I would be more concerned about the 'impact' of a nuclear terrorist attack, I would be more concerned about the likelihood of a terrorist group using chemicals...



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by Strangerous
I'm sure there are many many plants close to populations in the 'west' - ICI Runcorn (as was) for one - load of nasties made there.

Fair point Strangerous. Cheers. Also aren't there a shedload of chemical facilities on Teeside (smog-monsters etc....)?



if (when) 'AQ' gets over its bang fetish and starts to produce & set off these the effect in cities would be devastating

Devastating indeed. I'm not sure AQ would need to bother 'producing' the stuff though. They'll probably 'acquire' it from some sympathetic souls...Anyway, if the pre Iraq war intelligence WAS accurate, there should be a s**t load of the stuff laying about in the desert somewhere...



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 02:51 PM
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Originally posted by Harlequin
im more worried about BIO weapons than nukes - the russians weaponised Ebola years ago - they also have chimera`d it with anthrax.the administraiton doesn`t understand the danger of bio agents - Dr Bill Patrick walked into a briefing at the pentagon , talked about anthrax then rolled a phile across the table - and nothing could even detect it. inside was inert but very real anthrax.

Good shout Harlequin. The ability for Bio agents to be used in initially very small quantities and allowing it to spread from person to person is very scary. That said (and I don't claim to be an expert on this) I understand that Bio agents are pretty difficult to deploy in such a way that they would be effective??



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 05:58 PM
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Good shout Harlequin. The ability for Bio agents to be used in initially very small quantities and allowing it to spread from person to person is very scary. That said (and I don't claim to be an expert on this) I understand that Bio agents are pretty difficult to deploy in such a way that they would be effective??


Nah.

The UK introduced the BW Large Area Coverage concept back in the late 1950s. By the mid-sixties, Porton down scientists had carried out many public area experiments in the UK which proved that a single sortie, by a ship/aircraft/guided missile, could contaminate an area of at least 10,000 square miles with an infective dose of BW agent.

Casualty estimates, should such an attack occur in the UK, varied between 17-26 million people.

From one single attack!


Once you've managed to produce weaponised BW agent, deployment is relatively easy.




zero lift



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 06:14 PM
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Originally posted by zero lift
Once you've managed to produce weaponised BW agent, deployment is relatively easy.

How easy (or difficult) is it to produce weaponised BW agent and once produced, how easy is it to store over any extended period?

Thanks for the post zero lift. Interesting information.



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 06:41 PM
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Originally posted by Harlequin
im more worried about BIO weapons than nukes - the russians weaponised Ebola years ago - they also have chimera`d it with anthrax.

the administraiton doesn`t understand the danger of bio agents - Dr Bill Patrick walked into a briefing at the pentagon , talked about anthrax then rolled a phile across the table - and nothing could even detect it.

inside was inert but very real anthrax.

the other man involved in the US (now) is Colonel Kanatjan Alibekov - but even his data is 14 years out of date now.


Does anyone have proof of this? Aside from the book called Biohazard by Ken Alibek, I'm not sure there has been any reliable information that the Soviets did so, but I'm sure they did and would like any 'reliable' sources that you may have.

I, personally believe that biological weapons are FAR greater a threat than nuclear weapons. In many cases, these weapons can kill the same amount of people, and some can kill even more people. These weapons can also have impacts years and years after the detonation, spreading diseases through entire water or food supplies and killing people all around a country, and not just kill people at the focus of the detonation. Some, such as anthrax are especially adequate; when Anthrax is inhaled, the mortality rate lies between 95 and 100%, closer to 100%. Things like Anthrax are also especially easy for poor and underdeveloped organisations to attain. Though a weaponized Ebola would probably take more technology than say a terrorist group of 'underdeveloped' nation might have, if a country did get control of this weapon and used it, the results could range between a few or few hundred deaths, and a catastrophic pandemic that threated the densely populated world. I have actually read several 'excerpts' of what people think would happen if the weaponized Ebola was used against a city such as New York or Tokyo. The results would be catastrophic; it would be nearly impossible to contain the disease with so many people in close contact with one another. In addition, it has been proven that Ebola can be transmitted through the air, and it has been transmitted from monkey to monkey through the air, and they believe there has even been a case of human to human airborne transportation.

Also, during World War II, the Japanese Military had supposedly used chemical/biological weapons against China covertly. Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army was disguised as a water purification unit, and actually has been accused of using chemical and biological weapons to 'disease' the water and food supplies of China, killing as many as 580,000 people. If used aggressively as a weapon, I believe that chemical and biological weapons could used to be far more effective at killing large amounts of people. Not only this, but biological weapons (most of them anyways) are ALOT cheaper to mass produce than nuclear weapons. For example, a naturally-occuring bio/chemical weapon, Ricin, which comes from Castor Beans, is extremely cheap to mass produce. Anthrax is also relatively cheap to not only mass produce, but also to transport and deliver as an aerosol. Many countries that are not reported to have nuclear weapons, indeed have chemical/biological weapons. Chemical/Biological weapons are much more of a threat among terrorist groups than nuclear weapons, because it's not exactly difficult for one of these terrorist groups to get their hands on multiple tons of Ricin or Anthrax. So I see Chemical/Biological weapons as a much greater threat than nuclear weapons, at least at the moment. On the other hand, I see how quickly nuclear weapons could escalate to an even greater threat.



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 04:41 AM
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How easy (or difficult) is it to produce weaponised BW agent and once produced, how easy is it to store over any extended period?


Apparently it depends on how much BW agent you wish to produce.

Producing smallish amounts (aka batch culture) is much easier than producing large amounts (continuous culture). The UK were very good at batch culture, but their attempts at continuous culture left a lot to be desired. They experienced many problems with contamination.

The US pioneered many freeze-drying techniques and were able to store many of their selected BW agents for long periods of time.

The main problem, and one that the US in particular never managed to totally overcome, was leakage of BW agent during production. Too many of their workers were made ill while producing these agents.

The main BW agents which the US were in a position to use during the mid-sixties were: tuleremia, anthrax, Q-fever or VEE. At this time the US BW policy changed somewhat and it was primarily seen as a 'casualty saver'. This in turn meant that the large US Botulinum toxin production at Pine Bluff was curtailed. Instead, Pine Bluff turned its attention to producing staphylococcal enterotoxin (interestingly, after this change of agents the accident rate at Pine Bluff rose considerably).

For example, during the mid-sixties, the US military thought that BW weapons might be used to 'soften up' a fortified island prior to attack. The US was also considering the use of a combination of BW agents to cause prolonged incapacitaion; staphylococcal enterotoxin to cause sickness from 4-48 hours, followed up by tuleremia, giving effects for about six days, then by Q-fever to extend the total effects to about ten days.

To supplement their normal BW munitions, the US had also recently perfected the production of infected mosquitoes and had successfully developed and produced an efficient infected mosquito clandestine dropping device.




the administraiton doesn`t understand the danger of bio agents - Dr Bill Patrick walked into a briefing at the pentagon , talked about anthrax then rolled a phile across the table - and nothing could even detect it.

inside was inert but very real anthrax.


I have real doubts about this story. I suspect that the actual substance in Bill Patrick's phial was the anthrax simulant Bacillus globigii (aka BG or Bacillus subtilis).

And as for the scary stories promulgated by Ken Alibek, I'd treat them with a touch of caution. As Alibek well knew, scary stories sell books and kept his new Government happy.

You do not need to weaponise exotic diseases such as smallpox or ebola to conduct an effective BW attack, an 'ordinary' pathogen will cause just as much damage.

But then stories about 'ordinary' pathogens don't sell as many newspapers, books, etc. as ebola/smallpox hybrids do they?





zero lift


[edit on 28-4-2006 by zero lift]



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 08:26 AM
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Thanks for the comprehensive answer zero lift. It's something I admit to knowing very little about but your post has piqued my interest in the subject somewhat.


I am also a victim of the media with this one by assuming that BW would naturally involve the more 'glamourous' nasties.



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 12:38 PM
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Thanks for the comprehensive answer zero lift. It's something I admit to knowing very little about but your post has piqued my interest in the subject somewhat.


Information regarding the UK's past Biological Warfare research has only started entering the public domain in the last 8 or 9 years. Thankfully, in the years between the end of the Cold War and the events of 2001, open government campaigners successfully lobbied for the UK's public area BW experiments to be declassified.

The extent of this research, conducted by military scientists from the UK's CBW rsearch centre at Porton Down, is truly staggering. At times during the Cold War, Porton scientists turned the whole of the UK into a giant outdoor laboratory.

If you wish to find out more about this fascinating subject I'd recommend that you borrow a copy of Rob Evan's 2000 book; GASSED - Behind the scenes at Porton Down, from your local library.

The afterword - Clouds of Deceit Over Britain - includes some of the various public area BW tests that were conducted in the UK between 1949-1975.


zero lift




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