Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$72.25



View/Hide Left Panel

Russian biologists in joint research projects would undoubtedly reduce the probability of their potential use by bioterrorists.

Without a doubt, the development of biological science and biotechnology that we are currently observing will lead in the near future to outstanding fundamental discoveries affecting our understanding of the functioning of certain genes in microorganisms, mechanisms of pathogenesis, and the interaction of viruses with the immune systems of animals. This will make it possible to combat human, animal, and plant diseases more effectively. On the other side of the coin, these discoveries will also lead unavoidably to the appearance of new artificially constructed microorganisms and viruses with greater virulence than the initial strains, pathogens not recognized by the immune system, modified toxins with a high degree of stability, and so forth. At present, bioterrorism based on the use of the latest achievements in molecular biology appears unlikely due to the need for large expenditures and highly skilled specialists associated with terrorist groups. However, within the next few years it could present a colossal problem for the modern world.

In conclusion, I would like to focus attention once again on certain statements included in my report:

  1. The relative ease of making biological weapons, the practical invulnerability of the perpetrators, and the possibility of the outbreak of disease on a gigantic scale obviously make biological weapons one of the most attractive tools for terror in the twenty-first century.

  2. In connection with the poverty-stricken position of Russian biology, Russia possesses favorable conditions for terrorist groups, including terrorist groups from third countries, to make or even develop biological weapons. In this regard, Russia could potentially become one of the top sites for the manufacture of biological weapons by terrorists. Active targeted support for Russian biological science by the world community, and primarily by the United States of America, would undoubtedly promote the elimination of these negative tendencies.

  3. The main factor restraining the spread of bioterrorism is the lack up to now of a sufficiently wide-scale successful act of bioterrorism receiving world-wide attention, regardless of the country in which such an act might occur. An unfavorable situation has developed in Russia, and it might become one of the main proving grounds for the testing of bioweapons in terrorist or criminal actions. This cannot be permitted, because the successful staging of an act of bioterrorism on Russian soil might serve as the starting point for the further spread of bioterrorism. It is essential that an international system for countering bioterrorism be created and that Russia be actively involved in this system.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement