The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention prohibited the development, production, stockpiling, and transfer of biological agents for use as weapons. It was ratified by more than 100 nations, yet experts believe that several signatory countries—Iraq, Iran, China, and North Korea among them—may be violating the convention's terms and developing offensive biological weapons. Tragically, as the recent anthrax attacks in the U.S. have demonstrated, terrorists will not hesitate to use such state-derived biological weapons—or crude versions of them secured from other sources—to further their deadly goals.
In this feature, investigate the geography of former and currently functioning state-sponsored biological weapons programs. Note that precise evaluation of a nation's biological weapons capabilities is not possible because most bioweapons programs are or were clandestine. The information in this feature presents data available from published sources only, which are not exhaustive. Those include publications by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (www.cns.miis.edu), the Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (www.ceip.org), and the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project at the Henry L. Stimson Center (www.stimson.org/cwc).
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