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The Nightmare of Bioterrorism

Courtesy Reuters

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As the twenty-first century begins, the following nations possess biological weapons: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, China, North Korea, Russia, Israel, Taiwan, and possibly Sudan, India, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. The list cuts across lines of ideology, politics, and geography. In addition, according to intelligence sources in Europe and the United States, militant political groups across the globe are now developing or seeking to purchase biological weapons for terrorist use.

Meanwhile, the sophistication of biological weaponry has improved by leaps and bounds. Until 1985, all of the world's biological-weapons makers were stuck with the same list of pathogens and toxins that could kill thousands of enemies and be delivered with missiles or large-scale aerosol systems. Each nation knew the list and stocked antidotes and vaccines. It was a standoff.

But biology in the last decade has been what physics was in the 1940s and 1950s: a field of exponential discovery.

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