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Iraqi Biological Warfare (BW) Agents and Their Effects

Filename:0pgv083.90p
											DIA/OICC
                                                                  	
										22 Oct 90



Background Paper for Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy and 
Resources

SUBJECT:  Iraqi Biological Warfare (BW) Agents and Their Effects

1.         PURPOSE:  To provide Mr. I. Lewis Libby with background
information on the battlefield effects of Iraqi BW agents, 
potential use of BW by terrorists, immunization against BW, and 
availability and reliability of BW detection equipment.

2.       POINTS OF MAJOR INTEREST:

    a.            Tactical Use of BW: Iraq is assessed to have the 
BW agents anthrax and botulinum toxin.  Iraqi weapon systems for 
BW delivery are unconfirmed, but could include bombs, spray tanks, 
artillery, or missiles.

        -The use of anthrax in a tactical battlefield situation is 
not likely due to the delayed onset of symptoms: 1 to 6 days for 
inhalation of anthrax spores.  The first symptoms are 
nonspecific--fatigue and a mild fever, followed by a temporary 
recovery and then reversal to sudden development of respiratory 
distress.  Death occurs within 24 hours after the onset of the 
second phase.  Anthrax spores can live in the soil for
decades, thus this agent is an excellent long term area denial 
weapon.

        -Botulinum toxin could be used as a tactical BW weapon 
when a delayed effect is required: onset of symptoms is 6-12 hours 
for inhalation of botulinum toxin.  By the time botulinum toxin 
symptoms develop--about 12 hours after aerosol exposure--treatment 
has little chance of success. The agent affects the nervous system 
causing dizziness, dilated and nonreactive pupils, progressive 
muscular weakness, and death.

        -A major concern is the dissemination of botulinum toxin 
on a dust composed of silica or other materials which may 
penetrate clothing or masks and significantly increase the 
possibility of exposure on the battlefield.

    b.         Strategic Use of BW: Iraq is more likely to use BW 
 agents strategically.  Delivery means could include aerosol 
generators, spray tanks, or possibly bombs or missiles.  They 
could be used against civilian populations or rear troop 
concentrations, or as an aerial denial weapon against oil fields 
or other industrial or military targets.  A strategic BW attack 
could result in large-scale fatalities and casualties.

    c.         Terrorist Use of BW: BW agents could also be 
delivered by terrorist groups or by Iraqi clandestine services 
against military or civilian targets.  Botulinum toxin and to a 
lesser degree, anthrax bacteria lend themselves to covert 
dissemination because even small amounts placed in water or food 
supplies are sufficient to kill large numbers of people.  
Saboteurs could contaminate water or food supplies near U.S. or 
other Western military encampments should hostilities appear 
imminent.  BW delivery could also be accomplished by use of a 
truck,
plane, helicopter, drone, or ship equipped with an aerosol 
generator to create a large toxic cloud upwind of the target.  The 
difficulty in distinguishing between a naturally occurring 
epidemic and covert dissemination would provide sufficient cover 
for Iraq to use BW without suffering retaliation.

    d.        BW Protection:  Masks will probably offer sufficient
protection against known aerolized BW agents.  However, there is a
possibility of re-aerolizing the agent if the mask is not 
completely decontaminated before being removed.  Iraq may have the 
capability to deliver a BW agent bound to a dust-like carrier 
which could penetrate mask filters and permeable protective suits. 
 Such an agent could work its way through the fabric of protective 
clothing and become imbedded in the skin.

    e.        BW Prophylaxes: Effective vaccines for anthrax are
available.  Anthrax responds well to penicillin if the drug is 
given shortly after the onset of symptoms.  Immunization to 
botulinum is possible but requires multiple injections of 
inactivated toxins over a period of several months.  There are 
antisera to botulinum toxins, but they are effective only if 
administered before the onset of symptoms.

    f.        BW Detection: Rapid field detection methods do not 
exist for anthrax or botulinum toxin.


3.       EXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS:

       Iraq will continue to conduct research and development with 
BW agents and could expand to other infectious agents. 
Weaponization of BW agents will probably use many of the same 
techniques and equipment as chemical agents and will therefore be 
very difficult to detect.  Iraq clearly has the capability to 
weaponize some agents now.


COORDINATION:  None.

PREPARED BY:                           APPROVED BY:
                 [ (b)(6) ]
 



 

 



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