Military > WMD > Biological: Countries Compared

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Author: Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Hi Lindsey, The World Health Organization declared, in 1979, that small pox had been eradicated.
DEFINITION: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of biological weapons of mass destruction.
Argentina There are no indications to suggest that Argentina has ever possessed or sought to acquire biological weapons. It is a state party of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), having ratified it in November 1979. In September 1991, Argentina, together with Brazil and Chile, signed the Mendoza Accord, which commits signatories not to use, develop, produce, acquire, stock, or transfer—directly or indirectly—chemical or biological weapons. Argentina further strengthened its nonproliferation credentials when, in 1992, it became a member of the Australia Group, a voluntary system of export controls on chemical and biological agents, precursors, and equipment.
Armenia Armenia acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention on June 7, 1994. There is no evidence to suggest that Armenia possesses or is pursuing biological weapons. During the Soviet era the Armenian Center for Prophylaxis of Especially Dangerous Diseases (formerly known as the Armenian Anti-plague Station) was part of the so-called Soviet anti-plague system, the primary objective of which was to control endemic diseases and prevent the importation of exotic pathogens that could threaten crops, animals, and humans. In the late 1960s, however, the system also was tasked with defending the USSR against biological attacks.
Azerbaijan There is no evidence to suggest that Baku possesses or is pursuing biological weapons capabilities. Under a June 2005 Nunn-Lugar biological threat reduction agreement between Azerbaijan and the United States, Baku and Washington will work together to improve security and safety at the Azerbaijan central pathogen health laboratory and at the Baku Anti-Plague Station. In September 2005, 124 samples of 62 unique strains of causative agents of plague, anthrax, cholera, and other dangerous diseases were transported from Baku to the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC, where the strains will be studied jointly by U.S. Department of Defense and Azerbaijan medical researchers. The strains had been collected over many years from environmental, human, and animal sources in Azerbaijan and will be used to identify pathogens in possible future outbreaks. Azerbaijan acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in February 2004.
Belarus According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Belarus does not have a biological warfare (BW) program, and there is no indication that it has plans to establish such a program in the future. Although Belarus was a Soviet republic in 1972, it is a signatory of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which it ratified in 1975.
Brazil There is no evidence that Brazil has ever developed or produced biological weapons. It ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1973 and signed the Mendoza Declaration in 1991, which prohibits biological as well as chemical agents. Brazil's opposition to biological weapons is evident from reports that senior government officials oppose using biological agents even to control coca production in neighboring Colombia. Brazil does have the capacity to produce biological agents; for example, it has one of the world’s largest crops of the castor bean (which naturally produces the toxin ricin) and is proficient in advanced biological techniques such as gene sequencing. However, there is no indication that Brazil presents a biological weapons threat; it is, in fact, a staunch proponent of biological weapons nonproliferation.
China China ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in December 1996, declaring two former chemical weapons (CW) production facilities that may have produced mustard gas and Lewisite. Since 1997, China has hosted 14 on-site inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Although China claims that it no longer possesses any CW stockpiles, the U.S. government believes that China has not revealed the full scope of its program. China has signed a bilateral agreement with Japan to destroy CW that Japan abandoned in Chinese territory during World War II.
Egypt There is very limited open-source information indicating that Egypt is pursuing a biological weapons (BW) program. The country acceded to the Geneva Protocol on December 6, 1928 and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) on April 10, 1972. Most assessments by security experts indicate that while Egypt has a strong technical base in applied microbiology, it lacks the necessary infrastructure for developing or producing BW. Furthermore, there is no corroborated open-source evidence of any organized BW-related research activity. There have, however, been some allegations by Israel that Egypt is conducting research to develop anthrax and plague bacteria, botulinum toxin, and Rift Valley fever virus for military purposes. The Egyptian government strongly denies these accusations.
Estonia Estonia acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in June 1993 and is a member of the Australia Group. There is no evidence to suggest that Tallinn possesses or is pursuing biological weapons capabilities.
France France possessed a biological weapons program from 1921 to 1926 and again from 1935 to 1940. During these periods, France weaponized the potato beetle and conducted research on pathogens that cause anthrax, salmonella, cholera, and rinderpest. Its scientists also investigated botulinum toxin and ricin. It acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) on September 27, 1984.
India Although some intelligence estimates suggest that India possesses biological weapons, there is very limited open-source information available about a possible Indian biological weapon program. India has defensive biological weapon capabilities and has conducted research on countering various diseases, including plague, brucellosis, and smallpox. India also has an extensive and advanced pharmaceutical industry and is therefore technically capable of developing biological weapons. India ratified the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1974.
Iran There is very little publicly available information to determine whether Iran is pursuing a biological weapon program. Although Iran acceded to the Geneva Protocol in 1929 and ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1973, the U.S. government believes Iran began biological weapon efforts in the early to mid-1980s, and that it continues to pursue an offensive biological weapon program linked to its civilian biotechnology activities. The United States alleges that Iran may have started to develop small quantities of agent, possibly including mycotoxins, ricin, and the smallpox virus. Iran strongly denies acquiring or producing biological weapons.
Iraq Iraq began an offensive biological weapon (BW) program in 1985. By 1990, this program had produced 25 missile warheads and 166 400-pound aerial bombs that were filled with anthrax, botulinum toxin, or aflatoxin. Further, Iraq acknowledged production of approximately 20,000 liters of botulinum toxin solution, 8,425 liters of anthrax solution, and 2,200 liters of aflatoxin. Baghdad also admitted to having researched the weapons potential of the camelpox virus, human rotavirus, enterovirus 17, and the toxin ricin. Since December 1998, when UN inspectors left the country, there has been no verifiable information about the status of Iraq's BW program. In May 2000, the United Kingdom estimated that Iraq could rebuild its BW program within months. As a condition of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire agreement, Iraq ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq in part due to intelligence suspicions that Iraq had a clandestine biological weapons program among other WMD development programs. Investigations following the invasion, however, have yet to uncover evidence of biological weapons production in Iraq.
Israel Israel's neighboring states allege that Israel has an offensive biological weapons (BW) program, but there are no reliable sources on specific biological agents the Israelis may possess. Reportedly, Israeli specialized military units sabotaged water wells with typhoid and dysentery bacteria in Acre (near Haifa), Palestine during the 1948 war, but evidence of such events is fragmentary. Speculation that the program is located at the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona has raised both international and domestic concerns. Activists within the Israeli community have recently protested the expansion of the Institute due to reports, denied by Israeli officials, of multiple injuries and deaths within the facility and one near-evacuation of the surrounding area. Israel is not a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). In 2001, Israel's foreign and defense ministries reassessed policy with regard to the BWC, but no change in approach has yet been made public.
Japan Japan had an active biological weapons (BW) program prior to 1945. The focal point was the now infamous Unit 731 based at a laboratory complex in northeastern China during the Japanese occupation. Unit 731 experimented on Chinese civilians and Allied prisoners of war with various biological agents, including plague, cholera, and hemorrhagic fever. After World War II, the Japanese government abandoned its BW program. Japan signed the BWC in 1972 and ratified it in 1982. Japan has actively supported negotiation of a protocol to strengthen current BWC provisions. Since the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo's sarin attack and failed attempt to disperse anthrax, Japan has increased its focus on bio-terrorism defenses. Although Japan has a growing biotechnology industry, it is still small in comparison to its chemical industry. As a member of the Australia Group, Japan's biotech industry is subject to a comprehensive set of export controls.
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan has not declared an official policy against biological warfare (BW); it has not signed the Biological Toxin and Weapons Convention (BWC); and it is not a member of the Australia Group. Kazakh President Nazarbayev has, however, declared Kazakhstan's commitment to BW nonproliferation and associated technologies. In 1993, Kazakhstan created a civilian body, the National Center for Biotechnology, to oversee the administration of most of the former BW facilities in Kazakhstan. These facilities include the following: Biomedpreparat, a large-scale biological production facility located in Stepnogorsk; the Scientific Research Agricultural Institute (SRAI) at Otar, which specializes in crop and livestock diseases; and Biokombinat, a small mobilization production facility located in Almaty, which now produces vaccines. The Kazakh Scientific Center for Quarantine and Zoonotic Infections (KSCQZI) (formerly known as the Central Asian Anti-Plague Research Institute) was also involved in the Soviet defensive BW system and is now under the jurisdiction of the Kazakh Ministry of Health. Both KSCQZI and SRAI house extensive collections of virulent strains of human, animal, and plant pathogens. Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, Biomedpreparat has been dismantled and safety and security have been upgraded at KSCQZI and SRAI. In December 2004, the United States and Kazakhstan signed an amendment to a bilateral agreement that will expand cooperation against the threat of bioterrorism through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. The goal of U.S.-Kazakhstan cooperation in this area is to counter the threat of bioterrorism and prevent proliferation of biological weapons technology, pathogens, and expertise at their source.
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in October 2004. There is no evidence that it possesses or seeks biological weapons.
Latvia Latvia acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in February 1997 and joined the Australia Group in June 2004. There is no evidence to suggest that Riga possesses or is developing biological weapons.
Libya In 2003, Libya admitted its previous intentions to acquire equipment needed to produce biological weapons (BW). In October and December 2003, Libyan officials took US and UK experts to a number of medical and agricultural research centers that had the potential to be used in BW research. The country acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention on 19 January 1982. There are allegations that the alleged chemical weapon (CW) plants at Rabta and Tarhunah could contain BW research facilities as well. Prior to Libya's 19 December 2003 announcement to abandon its WMD programs, US intelligence agencies alleged that Qadhafi had attempted to recruit South African scientists to assist in the acquisition of BW, and that Libya had started to develop pathogens and toxins for weapons use.
Lithuania Lithuania acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in October 1998 and joined the Australia Group in June 2004. There is no evidence to suggest that Vilnius possesses or is developing biological weapons.
North Korea Although Pyongyang acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1987, North Korea is suspected of having a biological weapons program. Reports indicate that North Korea apparently began to produce biological weapons in the early 1980s. To date, North Korea has likely developed and produced anthrax bacteria, botulinum toxin, and plague bacteria.
Pakistan While Pakistan is not known to possess biological weapons, it has talented biomedical and biochemical scientists and well-equipped laboratories, which would allow it to quickly establish a sophisticated biological warfare (BW) program, should the government so desire. Indeed, the United States reported in 1996 that Islamabad had been "conducting research and development with potential BW applications." It is not known whether this potential has since been realized. Pakistan signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in April 1972 and ratified it in 1974.
Russia The Soviet Union ratified the BWC in 1975. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union violated the treaty by secretly operating a massive offensive BW program until it dissolved in 1991. The Soviet BW arsenal included the causative agents of anthrax, smallpox, plague, tularemia, glanders, and hemorrhagic fever. In wartime, formulated agents would have been loaded into a variety of delivery systems, including aerial bombs and ballistic missile warheads. Soviet BW scientists also researched, developed, and produced anti-crop and anti-livestock agents. Although the U.S. government believes that the BW agent stockpiles have been destroyed, activities that contravene the BWC may continue at a few military biological facilities in Russia. The Soviet Union also established a so-called anti-plague system, whose primary objective was to control endemic diseases and prevent the importation of exotic pathogens that could threaten crops, animals, and humans. In the late 1960s, however, the system also was tasked with defending the USSR against biological attacks. The anti-plague system continues in today’s Russia. There are reports that some countries, including Iran, have attempted to hire Russian BW specialists to help them acquire biological weapons.
Serbia and Montenegro There is no evidence in the open literature of the existence of a biological warfare program within the FRY or any of its successor states. Published allegations during the 2002 Boka Star smuggling incident suggested Serbia and Montenegro had possibly shipped biological equipment to Iraq, although this could not be confirmed. Yugoslavia signed the Geneva Protocol in 1929. Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Slovenia are all states parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).
South Africa South Africa’s biological weapons program was one of the two principal components of its covert state-sponsored CBW program, codenamed Project Coast (later Project Jota). Personnel associated with Coast have characterized it as the most sophisticated program of its type outside of the former Soviet Union, but international CBW experts generally consider it to have been considerably less advanced from a scientific standpoint. Although ostensibly created entirely for defensive purposes, since government and Cuban military forces in Angola were reportedly equipped for and planning to use—if not already using—CW agents against the South African Defence Force (SADF), from the outset the program also had offensive features and capabilities. The apartheid-era South African government viewed itself as the target of a “total onslaught” by Soviet-backed Marxist guerrillas or regimes in neighboring states and black nationalists at home, and to meet this all-encompassing “red-black danger” it was apparently willing to use almost any means at its disposal to defend itself. It was in this highly charged political and military context, which precipitated a “bunker” or “laager” mentality, that Coast was secretly initiated in 1981 under the aegis of the SADF Special Forces. The chief facility for researching, producing, and testing BW agents and lethal toxic chemicals was a military front company called Roodeplaat Research Laboratories, located north of Pretoria, and other facilities were established to develop protective clothing and manufacture exotic assassination devices. Project Officer Dr. Wouter Basson also set up an elaborate network of procurement and financial front companies overseas. During its existence Coast scientists tested or developed a wide range of harmful BW agents, including Bacillus anthracis, botulinum toxin, Vibrio cholerae, Clostridium perfringens, plague bacteria, and salmonella bacteria. Some of these pathogens were probably used to assassinate individual “enemies of the state,” and it is alleged that both anthrax bacteria and V. cholerae were each employed on at least one occasion to infect larger populations. The CBW program was officially dismantled in 1993, in the midst of a liberalizing transformation of the regime. There are indications, however, that certain personnel who were intimately involved in the program, including Basson, may have provided technical knowledge, equipment, or materials to “rogue regimes” such as Libya, to foreign intelligence personnel, to unscrupulous black marketers trafficking in dangerous weapons, and perhaps also—if certain journalists can be believed—to elements of a shadowy international network of right-wing extremists. These claims have yet to be fully investigated, much less verified. The extent to which various foreign governments, military establishments, and intelligence agencies secretly monitored or covertly assisted in the development of the program likewise remains an open question.
South Korea While South Korea possesses a well-developed pharmaceutical and biotech infrastructure, there is no evidence that Seoul has an offensive biological weapon (BW) program. Citing a biological threat from North Korea, South Korea conducts defensive BW research and development, including the development of vaccines against anthrax and smallpox. South Korea ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in June 1987 and joined the Australia Group in October 1995.
Syria There is very limited open-source information regarding Syria's biological warfare (BW) capability. German and Israeli sources have asserted that Syria possesses Bacillus anthracis (which causes anthrax), botulinum toxin, and ricin. Other independent assessments, however, maintain there is no evidence that the country has progressed past the research and development phase of a BW capability. Syria has a pharmaceutical infrastructure that could support a limited BW program, and it engages in extensive trade of dual-use equipment and goods with companies in Western Europe, Russia, and North Korea. Damascus ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1968 and signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) on April 14, 1972, but has yet to ratify it.
Taiwan Taiwan has been accused of making efforts to acquire a biological weapons (BW) capability. A report from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service claimed that Taiwan has developed three dozen types of bacteria, apparently for weaponization purposes. This report, of questionable reliability, was vigorously denied by the Ministry of National Defense (MND). Taiwan signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1972, but its role in this treaty is not officially recognized. Taiwan has not been permitted to join the Australia Group.
Ukraine The U.S. Departments of State and Defense report that Soviet biological facilities once existed in Ukraine. None, however, is active today. Ukraine has publicly stated that it views biological weapons proliferation as a threat to its own security. The country does not have a biological warfare program and appears to have no intention of establishing one. Ukraine is a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which it ratified in 1975, and a member of the Australia Group. Under an August 2005 U.S.-Ukraine agreement, the United States will fund security upgrades at key Ukrainian biological institutes where dangerous microbes are kept.
United Kingdom Under its former biological warfare program (1936-1956), the United Kingdom weaponized anthrax and conducted research on the pathogens that cause plague and typhoid fever, as well as botulinum toxin. The United Kingdom no longer has an offensive biological weapons program, although its defensive biological program is strong. On March 28, 2005, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia issued a joint statement in affirmation of their support for the BTWC and called on all remaining countries not party to the BWC to implement and comply with the pact. London ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in March 1975.
United States The U.S. offensive biological warfare (BW) program was launched in 1943 and terminated in 1969, by executive order. During this period, the U.S. weaponized a variety of pathogens and toxins for use against humans and plants. The anti-human agents it developed for weapons purposes were Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, and staphylococcal enterotoxin B. The anti-plant agents were the fungi that cause wheat rust and rice blast. In addition, U.S. military scientists conducted research on pathogens that cause smallpox, glanders, and plague, as well as several toxins, such as botulinum toxin, saxitoxin, and ricin. The entire U.S. BW stockpile was destroyed in 1969 and 1970; since that time, it has not had an offensive BW program. The U.S. ratified the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC) in March 1975 and had an important role in the process of developing confidence-building measures (CBMs) during several BWC review conferences. However, in 2001, the Bush administration rejected an effort by other signatories to conclude a protocol that would provide verification measures. Since then, the remaining parties to the BWC have conducted semiannual meetings to discuss, among other things, national measures for the implementation of biosecurity regulations and penal legislation, leading up to the Sixth Review Conference in 2006.[2] In addition, the United States has conducted an active biodefense program for many years in accordance with BWC provisions that permit the use of agents of types and in quantities appropriate for prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes. These activities are reported each year to Congress and in an annual information exchange on biodefense activities under the BWC. A 4 September 2001 New York Times article identified previously undisclosed U.S. government biodefense projects involving a model of a germ bomb, a factory to make biological agents, and the development of more potent anthrax. The United States denied allegations that this research was anything other than defensive in nature and asserted that it did not violate any BWC provisions or CBMs. On 28 April 2004, President Bush outlined the administration's perspective on biological weapons by issuing National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-33) called "Biodefense for the 21st Century", an initiative to strengthen the country's biodefense capabilities through programs in threat awareness, prevention and protection, surveillance and detection, and response and recovery. The Bush administration also faces criticism that financial resources have been redirected from non-biodefense research in order to fund additional biodefense research.
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan has inherited several former BW facilities from Soviet times. In Tashkent, the Institute of Virology now focuses its research on human viral diseases, while the Tashkent Center for Prophylaxis and Quarantine of Most Hazardous Diseases specializes in research on bacterial diseases. The later institute once was part of the Soviet anti-plaque system. Both institutes house extensive collections of microorganisms, including dangerous pathogens. For example, the Institute of Virology has a collection of various hemorrhagic fever viruses, such as the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus. The Tashkent Center for Prophylaxis and Quarantine of Most Hazardous Diseases has collections of various types of bacteria, including those that cause plague, brucellosis, anthrax, and tularemia. The largest Soviet BW field-testing facility was located on Vozrozhdeniye Island, now a peninsula, in the Aral Sea. Most of the BW infrastructure is located on the two-thirds of the peninsula that lies within Uzbekistani territory. During the Soviet era, Vozrozhdeniye Island was used to test weapons armed with pathogens that cause anthrax, plague, tularemia and smallpox. Under the CTR program, Uzbekistan and the U.S. agreed on a two-stage project to clean up the island and dismantle its BW facility. The U.S. has allocated $6 million for the first stage, which is to decontaminate 11 pits containing a slurry of formulated Bacillus anthracis that were construed by the Red Army in 1988. This first stage was conducted and completed in May 2002. The second stage of the project will consist of dismantling the BW facility. The budget and timing of the second stage have not yet been settled on. Uzbekistan is a party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).


"Countries Compared by Military > WMD > Biological. International Statistics at NationMaster.com", The Nuclear Threat Initiative. Aggregates compiled by NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Military/WMD/Biological

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Hi Lindsey, The World Health Organization declared, in 1979, that small pox had been eradicated.

Posted on 23 Mar 2005

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

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