Biological agents are odourless, tasteless, and when dispersed in an aerosol cloud, are invisible to the human eye because the particle size of the aerosol is extremely small (1 to 5 micrometers or microns. Weight-for-weight, biological weapons are hundreds to thousands of times more potent than the most lethal chemical weapon, meaning that even small amounts (e.g., a few kilograms) could be used with devastating effect, whereas hundreds or thousands of tons of chemical agents could be required for militarily significant operations.
Biological agents contain either living organisms or their derivatives, such as toxins, which cause disease or death. Living organisms can multiply within the living targets to produce their effects, while toxins cannot reproduce themselves. Toxins are generally more lethal, and act relatively quickly causing incapacitation or death within minutes or hours. Living organisms (microbial pathogens), require incubation periods of 24 hours to 6 weeks between infection and appearance of symptoms. This incubation period places limits on their battlefield utility, but means that biological weapons can continue to have a significant impact many weeks after the initial attack (eg by causing a long-term pandemic). Likewise, this delayed incubation period may mean that a biological attack can be completed before those on the ground have realised that it has occurred, or even take place entirely covertly, the effects being confused with a natural outbreak of disease.
A biological attack can contaminate an area for between several hours and several weeks, compromising equipment and forcing troops to wear highly restrictive protective clothing (reducing their efficiency) and / or take antidotes whose side effects remain largely unknown.
Biological attacks could
cause widespread panic amongst both military and civilian populations.
large number of potential casualties could place huge burdens on medical
facilities and overwhelm military resources. The relatively poor warning devices
available against biological attack and the potential delayed effects of some
agents make mis-identification of the agent or agents used more likely, leading
to the failure of defence measures. One US Army study suggested that a Scud
attack with an anthrax BW warhead would see the effectiveness of military units
downwind fall by 90% if the attack were not correctly detected. With prior
detection, the study estimated a fall in effectiveness of only 20%. The same
report noted that:
A Scud missile warhead filled with botulinum could contaminate an area of 3,700 square kilometers (based on ideal weather conditions and an effective dispersal mechanism), or 16 times greater than the same warhead filled with [the nerve agent] Sarin. By the time symptoms occur, treatment has little chance of success. Rapid field detection methods for biological warfare agents do not exist.
Perhaps even more than chemical weapons, the intimidatory nature of biological weapons is such that an attack or the threat of an attack is likely to cause wholesale disruption or paralysis of civil and economic activity in the affected area. The psychological effects on civilian populations is almost guaranteed to cause panic or terror.
METHODS OF DELIVERY
The high stresses, gravitational forces (G-forces) and heat generated by the acceleration and re-entry of ballistic missiles makes them a less-than-ideal method of delivering live biological agents. Considerable technical efforts are required to package live BW agents in a missile warhead and ensure that the agent is dispersed at the correct height and angle of delivery to create an airborne aerosol. However despite these technical challenges, recent UN revelations that Iraq may have retained 16 ballistic missiles armed with BW warheads in violation of UN Resolutions underlines the serious potential threat posed by ballistic missiles armed with BW agents.
The main potential targets of biological weapons include: troop concentrations; dispersal areas; logistics centres; command and control centres; air bases; ports; key infrastructure installations (oil and power facilities, desalination plants, etc), and civilian population centres.
The contamination of water supplies would seriously hamper the ability of an army to wage war. Biological weapons also have naval applications. An attack on a ship would contaminate the vessel and crew, reducing or destroying its operational efficiency. This would be particularly useful against large ships that can withstand multiple conventional hits (such as the large US fleet aircraft carriers).
Significantly, in exercises during the summer of 1995, Iranian forces used helicopters to spray their own ships with aerosol liquids, suggesting the development of a capability to use biological and/or chemical weapons against oil tanker movements in the strategically vital Persian Gulf.
Unlike chemical weapons, biological agents are not as controllable or predictable in their effects and are even more dependent than chemical agents upon temperature, weather and topographical conditions. Thus there is always a major risk of contaminating the wrong area. However, most biological agents must be inhaled or ingested to be effective: unlike many chemical agents, skin contact is unlikely to cause infection, making it easier to defend against biological agents than chemical agents if the agent can be correctly detected.
Most biological agents also degrade rapidly, although dry agents such as anthrax
spores and some toxins, are persistent. Such agents could also pose long-lasting
hazards, (anthrax spores may persist in the soil in deadly form for decades),
meaning that areas an attacker wishes to move across or occupy may remain
contaminated, necessitating the use of protective equipment and / or
decontamination for attacking forces. The weaponisation (storage and delivery)
of biological agents also poses technical hurdles.
Potential Viral agents include smallpox, yellow fever, equine encephalitis and influenza, which may be genetically modified to increase their effectiveness.
Bacterial agents such as anthrax, meloidosis, pneumonic plague and glanders have incubation periods of between one and five days and are usually fatal without swift treatment.
Toxins include botulinum toxin, which produces an acute muscular paralysis resulting in death of animals or humans; ricin, derived from castor bean plants whose lethality is that of nerve gasses, and mycotoxins which produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritation and potential fatalities.
DEFINITION OF BOMBS
EFFECTS OF BOMBS
PARTS OF BOMBS
TYPES OF BOMBS
ATOM & HYDRO BOMB