without vast expenditures of money or the construction of huge facilities, that the development of bioweapons could proceed under the guise of legitimate medical research, that such weapons could overwhelm existing defenses, and that expenditures to counter the threat of biowarfare should be viewed in the light of the harm that might come to an unprepared America through a sneak attack. The program Merck headed was stymied, Kadlec explained, because the technology needed to ensure the safety of the researchers or to safely produce biowarfare agents on an industrial scale did not exist then.
Research continued, however, leading into the 1960s, the so-called golden era of U.S. bioweapons research; the program produced several agents and conducted both small- and large-scale environmental tests (e.g., validation tests for nonnuclear alternatives and atmospheric tests). These tests are germane to BioWatch, Kadlec said, because they demonstrated the feasibility of using environmental samplers to recover organisms released in large quantities into the environment. The United States terminated its bioweapons program in 1969 when President Nixon renounced the use of bioweapons and ordered the destruction of more than 71,000 dual-agent–filled munitions.
But although the United States ended its efforts, the Soviet Union continued its offensive biological warfare activities into the 1980s, Kadlec said. The Soviet program has been detailed in two books: The Dead Hand, for which author David Hoffman (2009) won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010, and, more recently, The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History, by Milton Leitenberg et al. (2012). During this period, the United States believed bioweapons would be used in low-intensity conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, with the intent of incapacitating people, not killing them. Experts also believed, Kadlec said, that biowarfare was a superpower-only capability.
In the 1990s, at the time of the first Gulf War, intelligence indicated that Saddam Hussein had a biological weapons program. Kadlec, who was a United Nations weapons inspector at the time, said that it was known that Iraq had started producing bioweapons in anticipation of its invasion of Kuwait in March 1990. “Iraq had probably 10,000 or more liters of liquid anthrax that they had distributed across the country in 1,100-liter spray tanks for aircraft,” he said. “How do we know that? We found them.” He showed a video clip from January 1990 of an Iraqi Mirage F1 jet spraying Bacillus globigii, an agent used to simulate biological warfare agents (Center for Research Information, 2004), in a final operational test to demonstrate the capability to release a large amount of