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Bioweapons. Political Dimensions. I. Supplements to Guillemin’s History: World War II. The case of Stalingrad… Suspicious outbreak of tularemia at Stalingrad Kenneth Alibek (Soviet weapons scientist) alleges USSR used bioweapons Other scientists believe outbreak was natural.

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Political Dimensions

i supplements to guillemin s history world war ii
I. Supplements to Guillemin’s History: World War II
  • The case of Stalingrad…
    • Suspicious outbreak of tularemia at Stalingrad
    • Kenneth Alibek (Soviet weapons scientist) alleges USSR used bioweapons
    • Other scientists believe outbreak was natural
b japan s unit 731
B. Japan’s Unit 731

1. Guillemin lowballs the figures for Chinese deaths. But Langford (Introduction to Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2004, p.142) says 250,000 Chinese killed by Japanese BW, mainly plague.

2. A few thousand – 250,000 is a big range. Can we narrow down the effectiveness of the Japanese program?

a testimony of hayashi shigemi october 7 1954
a. Testimony of Hayashi Shigemi (October 7, 1954)
  • "In 1943…(we) spread cholera once in Shantung Province... The germ was first dumped into the Wei River, then the dike was destroyed to let the water flow into a larger area to rapidly spread the germ. I personally participated in this mission. I handed the germ to Kakizoe Shinobu, an Army medical doctor. He then in turn sent someone else to spread the germ. According to my knowledge, in our local area there were twenty five thousand two hundred ninety one Chinese people who died from this. How many died altogether I do not know, because it was top-secret information. Our mission was to murder Chinese people in mass, to test the effectiveness of the cholera germ, and to be ready to use it in fighting the Russians.“
  • Problem: Unable to locate source of testimony (reprinted on highly nationalist web sites – but no trials in 1954…)
b sources of evidence
b. Sources of evidence
  • Estimate of 3000 = testimony of one official who witnessed about 600 deaths/year for 5 years at Ping Fan
  • Now considered “gross underestimate” because excludes other camps
  • Prisoners not issued unique IDs: 101-1500 used as ID numbers, then recycled with next batch of prisoners. X-Rays destroyed by end of war.
  • NONE of these estimates include the actual plague outbreaks in China. But can those be blamed on Japanese BW, or were they natural?
  • Ishii had incentives to exaggerate effects of BW
c possible bw caused epidemics 1939 1942
c. Possible BW-caused epidemics, 1939-1942
  • 1939-1940: Typhoid (near Harbin) from well poisonings
  • 1940: Cholera (near Changchun)
  • 1942: Paratyphoid A and Anthrax (near Nanking)
  • 1939-1942: Plague epidemics near Ningbo (possibly from infected rats released in cities by Japanese troops)
3 bureaucratic politics
3. Bureaucratic Politics?
  • Japanese forces were decentralized (Unit 731, Unit 100, Eu 1644, other units)
  • Ishii-Kitano rivalry created incentives to overestimate BW effectiveness by both researchers
  • Hypothesis: Ishii and Kitano deliberately avoided use of controls (i.e. comparison to plague deaths in non-BW areas) in order to produce results (think US BMD tests or manufacturers’ tests of effectiveness for parallels)
    • Hypothesis suggests deaths were >10,000 (killed directly) but <250,000 (because that ascribes all epidemics to BW, which is probably false)
    • Proven BW-induced epidemics killed <1000 in each case, sometimes < 100
    • Accordingly, real figures more likely to be in 20,000-50,000 range
  • Problem: No evidence with which to test hypothesis. Much was destroyed and most of the rest is STILL classified by the US
ii biodefense prevention
II. Biodefense: Prevention
  • Preventing state use of BW
    • Mass vaccination is impractical (unless one has time – i.e. intends to use them first)
    • Deterrence – Threaten retaliation with something that exceeds benefits of BW use (thus increased BW effectiveness increases threat needed to deter)
    • Nonproliferation – Prevent the spread of capability (more on this later…)
b preventing bioterrorism
B. Preventing Bioterrorism
  • Access control. US data and regulations:
    • >300 registered institutions with bioweapons agents
    • >16,000 registered individuals with bioweapons agents
    • Only security requirement is a lock on the door
    • No requirement to exclude non-screened personnel for labs
    • No requirement for secure transport
2 challenges of detection
2. Challenges of Detection

a. Initial Symptoms too vague to know attack has occurred


Clinical Effect

Initial Symptoms




Pleuritis, hepatitis





Q fever







b epidemiologic clues
b. Epidemiologic Clues
  • Tight cluster of cases
  • High infection rate
  • Unusual or localized geography (rural disease in urban area)
  • Unusual time of year (i.e. flu-like symptoms in midsummer)
  • Dead animals (for some diseases)
3 thinking ahead which groups are threats
3. Thinking Ahead: Which groups are threats?

a. Required capabilities

  • Virulent strain of agent
  • Equipment and expertise to culture agent safely
  • Equipment and expertise to stockpile agent until use
  • Equipment and expertise to generate right size aerosol OR access to processed food / water supplies
c nonstate cbrn use is rare
c. Nonstate CBRN use is rare
  • Only 10 of 74 CBRN attacks involved pathogens (typhoid and anthrax) or biological toxins (botulism toxin)
    • From Whitlark and Stepak (2010)
c defense against accidental release
C. Defense against accidental release
  • Encourage other countries to implement safeguards, esp. on government programs
  • US: High security for BW research but not private research.

Universities: Essentially no safety regulations (voluntary only, apply to NIH grants for recombinant-DNA research only)

iii proliferation of bw
III. Proliferation of BW

A. What are the incentives to build BW?

1 advantages of bioweapons
1. Advantages of Bioweapons
  • Small amount needed
    • Pathogens grow inside host
  • Extremely toxic
    • Botox: Dot of an “i” kills 10
  • Easy/inexpensive to grow
    • Cheese making equipment (viruses more difficult than bacteria / toxins)
  • Large amount produced in short period of time
    • Days to weeks
  • Potential for panic
2 disadvantages of bioweapons
2. Disadvantages of Bioweapons
  • Protection of Workers and Public
    • Release into environment (Sverdlovsk was state of the art!)
  • Quality control
    • Particles must be aerosolized (1 micron or so)
  • Delivery problems
    • Rain, wind, UV light
    • Bombs, bomblets, and shells produce poor, localized aerosols
    • Heat and shock waves (explosions) kill most organisms
  • Poor storage survival
  • Difficult to control release – “boomerang effects”
3 causes of bw proliferation
3. Causes of BW Proliferation
  • Portfolio Strategy: Every BW aspirant has also pursued Chemical and/or Nuclear Weapons. What does this suggest?
  • Cost-Effectiveness: BW cheaper than other WMD
  • Ease of acquisition: offensive BW relies on dual-use technology
  • Difficult to detect: Weakness of BWC, permissibility of defensive research
4 predicting bw proliferation
4. Predicting BW Proliferation
  • Best predictors are security variables:
    • Enduring Rivalry Increases Risk
    • Dispute Involvement Increases Risk
    • Defense Pact Decreases Risk
  • Large states more likely to develop BW
  • Other predictors include:
    • Democracy Decreases Risk
    • IO Membership Slightly Increases Risk
    • Wealth Increases Risk
c proliferation the risks
C. Proliferation: The Risks
  • Risk of state use – Relationship depends on balance between deterrence and escalation
    • Deterrence – Use of threats to prevent BW
    • Escalation – Use of BW to achieve dominance in war
    • Little evidence to test comparisons – State BW use has always been rare. Only examples are cases where no retaliation was possible.
d bw doctrines as evidence planning the unthinkable
d. BW Doctrines as Evidence (Planning the Unthinkable)

i. Realism: States use BW to alter the balance of power with rivals. Implies BW good for the weak side in asymmetric dyads, bad for the strong side in asymmetric dyads, and good for balanced dyads. Problem = balance of capabilities appears to increase war risk!

ii organization theory
ii. Organization theory
  • Military organizations pursue autonomy and therefore develop offensive strategies
  • Undermines ability of BW to deter (realism) because militaries are partially independent of political calculations that drive civilians to avoid war
iii strategic culture theory
iii. Strategic culture theory
  • Civilians also pursue goals other than national security – i.e. re-election
  • Militaries differ in the degree to which they seek autonomy
  • No clear conclusions about whether more BW is dangerous
  • Which theory is correct? Read the case studies…
2 risk of nonstate use
2. Risk of nonstate use
  • Proliferation should increase risk of nonstate use, ceteris paribus. Why?
  • However, hypothesis is difficult to test because all is not equal: Role of nonstate actors in politics changes over time (increase in foreign military intervention by nonstate actors)
3 risk of accidental use
3. Risk of accidental use
  • Risk is not zero – remember Sverdlovsk
  • Risk increases with each new BW state
  • Safety measures can slow the increase but not avert it.
4 the danger of proliferation
4. The danger of proliferation
  • The nonstate dimension: We don’t need to assume “rogue states” are any different in order to conclude that more BW is dangerous. Majority of BW uses have been nonstate or accidental releases!
  • State-level deterrence fails: does not deter nonstate actors and has only limited effect on accidental releases (provides incentive for strong safety systems)
  • Conclusion: Deterrence alone is insufficient. Efforts to reduce proliferation or roll back BW programs necessary to decrease BW risk
d anti proliferation strategies
D. Anti-Proliferation Strategies
  • Nonproliferation: Arms Control

(See Assignment 1 and in-class exercises for details on the BWC and its effect on proliferation)

a the 5 th review conference of the bwc
a. The 5th Review Conference of the BWC
  • US scuttles the conference (Guillemin) BUT
  • Russia also tried to undermine BWC through definition of dozens of terms (would create legal loopholes to enable “everything but” BW programs)
  • NAM (led by China and including Pakistan and India) sought to strengthen Article X (sharing technical expertise) at the expense of Article III (export controls) and even inspections
b the 6 th review conference
b. The 6th Review Conference
  • Ended December 8, 2006
  • Only significant accomplishment was agreement on annual meetings before the next Review Conference in 2011
  • (The 2011 meeting is our simulation)
2 counterproliferation compellence as a strategy
2. Counterproliferation: Compellence as a strategy
  • Rejects deterrence alone – must have ability to coerce states or groups with BW into renouncing it, not just to refrain from using it
  • Distinct from arms control – includes use of force; associated with reluctance to make concessions (bargain)
3 paradoxes of anti proliferation
3. Paradoxes of Anti-Proliferation

a. Counterproliferation can undermine nonproliferation – Threat of pre-emptive war may encourage WMD development. New counterproliferation strategies threaten first use of nuclear weapons (new bunker busters). See the Sagan article for why this might be a bad idea.

b the deterrence dilemma
b. The deterrence dilemma
  • Deterrence cannot roll back BW, because BW programs built in full knowledge of the deterrent threat (i.e. already taken into consideration)
  • Increased ability to deter increases threat (primary driver of proliferation)
c the nonproliferation paradoxes
c. The nonproliferation paradoxes
  • Rewarding bad behavior: Incentives to renounce BW may encourage others to build BW as bargaining chips
  • Substitution effect: Verification on one dimension of WMD may increase appeal of other dimensions