Use of Weapon Against Third Parties (FRUS) Dec 17, 2015 7:25:44 GMT
Post by Admin on Dec 17, 2015 7:25:44 GMT
The use of biological warfare became more sophisticated during the 19th century. The conception of Koch's postulates and the development of modern microbiology during the 19th century made possible the isolation and production of stocks of specific pathogens (2).
World War I
Substantial evidence suggests the existence of an ambitious biological warfare program in Germany during World War I. This program allegedly featured covert operations. During World War I, reports circulated of attempts by Germans to ship horses and cattle inoculated with disease-producing bacteria, such as Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) and Pseudomonas pseudomallei (glanders), to the USA and other countries (10, 11). The same agents were used to infect Romanian sheep that were designated for export to Russia. Other allegations of attempts by Germany to spread cholera in Italy and plague in St. Petersburg in Russia followed (10, 11). Germany denied all these allegations, including the accusation that biological bombs were dropped over British positions.
In 1924, a subcommittee of the Temporary Mixed Commission of the League of Nations, in support of Germany, found no hard evidence that the bacteriological arm of warfare had been employed in war (11). However, the document indicated evidence of use of the chemical arm of warfare. In response to the horror of chemical warfare during World War I, international diplomatic efforts were directed toward limiting the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, i.e., biological and chemical weapons (12, 13). On June 17, 1925, the “Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare,” commonly called the Geneva Protocol of 1925, was signed. Because viruses were not differentiated from bacteria at that time, they were not specifically mentioned in the protocol. A total of 108 nations, including eventually the 5 permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, Im signed the agreement. However, the Geneva Protocol did not address verification or compliance, making it a “toothless” and less meaningful document (13). Several countries that were parties to the Geneva Protocol of 1925 began to develop biological weapons soon after its ratification. These countries included Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Japan, and the Soviet Union. The USA did not ratify the Geneva Protocol until 1975 (13).
World War II
During World War II, some of the mentioned countries began a rather ambitious biological warfare research program. Various allegations and countercharges clouded the events during and after World War II. Japan conducted biological weapons research from approximately 1932 until the end of World War II (1, 7, 12). The program was under the direction of Shiro Ishii (1932–1942) and Kitano Misaji (1942–1945). Several military units existed for research and development of biological warfare. The center of the Japanese biowarfare program was known as “Unit 731” and was located in Manchuria near the town of Pingfan (1). The Japanese program consisted of more than 150 buildings in Pingfan, 5 satellite camps, and a staff of more than 3000 scientists. Organisms and diseases of interest to the Japanese program were B. anthracis, Neisseria meningitidis, Vibrio cholerae, Shigella spp, and Yersiniapestis (1, 14). More than 10,000 prisoners are believed to have died as a result of experimental infection during the Japanese program between 1932 and 1945. At least 3000 of these victims were prisoners of war, including Korean, Chinese, Mongolian, Soviet, American, British, and Australian soldiers (14). Many of these prisoners died as a direct effect of experimental inoculation of agents causing gas gangrene, anthrax, meningococcal infection, cholera, dysentery, or plague. In addition, experiments with terodotoxin (an extremely poisonous fungal toxin) were conducted. In later years, Japanese officials considered these experiments as “most regrettable from the view point of humanity” (14).
In addition to the experiments conducted on prisoners in the camps of Unit 731, the Japanese military developed plague as a biological weapon by allowing laboratory fleas to feed on plague infected rats (14). On several occasions, the fleas were released from aircraft over Chinese cities to initiate plague epidemics. However, the Japanese had not adequately prepared, trained, or equipped their own military personnel for the hazards of biological weapons. An attack on the city of Changteh in 1941 reportedly led to approximately 10,000 casualties due to biological weapons. During this incident 1700 deaths were reported among Japanese troops. Thus, “field trials” were terminated in 1942.
In December 1949, a Soviet military tribunal in Khabarovsk tried 12 Japanese prisoners of war for preparing and using biological weapons (15). Major General Kawashima, former head of Unit 731's First, Third, and Fourth Sections, testified in this trial that no fewer than 600 prisoners were killed yearly at Unit 731. The Japanese government, in turn, accused the Soviet Union of experimentation with biological weapons, referring to examples of B. anthracis, Shigella, and V. cholerae organisms recovered from Russian spies.
Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2004 Oct; 17(4): 400–406.