4-Patents: U.S. Army received patent on bioweapon rifle
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TITLE: US Army Patents Biological Weapons Delivery System, Violates
SOURCE: The Sunshine Project, USA, Germany, News Release
DATE: May 8, 2003
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US Army Patents Biological Weapons Delivery System, Violates Bioweapons
Austin and Hamburg (8 May 2003) - The United States Army has developed
and patented a new grenade that it says can be used to wage biowarfare.
This is in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention, which
explicitly prohibits development of bioweapons delivery devices.
US Patent #6,523,478, granted on February 25th 2003, covers a "rifle
launched non lethal cargo dispenser" that is designed to deliver
aerosols, including - according to the patent's claims - "crowd control
agents, biological agents, [and] chemical agents..."
The development of biological weapons delivery devices is absolutely
prohibited - "in any circumstance" - by Article I of the 1972 Biological
and Toxin Weapons Convention, to which the US is a party. There is no
exemption from this prohibition, neither for defensive purposes nor for
so called non-lethal agents.
"The development of weapons for biological payloads produces great
uncertainty about the US commitment to the Biological Weapons
Convention." says Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project US, "Thirty four
years after the US renunciation of biological weapons, the Pentagon is
back in the bioweapons business."
"Hans Blix might have an easier time finding illegal weapons if he were
inspecting near Baltimore instead of Baghdad," says biologist Jan van
Aken from the Sunshine Project Germany, referring to the fact that two of
the inventors work at the Army's Edgewood Arsenal north of Baltimore,
Maryland. Other inventors work at an engineering firm in Orlando,
Florida, where the US Special Forces operate from MacDill Air Force Base.
This grenade is yet another indication of prohibited biological and
chemical weapons development projects in the US. It stands in a row with
an illegal chemical weapons program focusing on so called non-lethal
agents (see below), uncovered last September by the Sunshine Project,
with research activities on material degrading microorganisms by the US
armed forces (see below), and with a range of questionable biodefense
activities that may well suit offensive purposes (see New York Times, 4
Slides: "Rifle Launched Non-Lethal Cargo Dispenser"
Eroding Prohibition: So-called non-lethal weapons are blurring the lines
between permissable and illegal weapons research. The Army says the new
grenade is for the dispersal of "non-lethal" agents. Claims are the
legally crucial and most carefully crafted part of a patent. The Army is
fully aware of its obligations under the BWC, yet a new bioweapons device
was patented. This underscores why "non-lethal" weapons pose such a
serious threat. The Pentagon now considers bioweapons work that has been
off limits for three decades to be acceptable - if the word "non-lethal"
is appended. But not only do many 'non lethal' agents violate treaties
themselves, it is worse: US "non-lethal" research is creating and testing
hardware that can deliver the full spectrum of biological and chemical
Pre-emptive Diplomacy: US diplomatic-military policy coordination on
"non-lethal" weapons can be seen in its firm resistance to efforts to
place the subject on the international arms control agenda. In September
2002, US diplomats vetoed the Sunshine Project's accreditation to a
Chemical Weapons Convention meeting because the Project wanted to discuss
"non-lethal" chemical (and biological) weapons. Last week, US diplomats
again pre-empted discussion of "non-lethal" weapons, when they blocked
the International Committee of the Red Cross from making a speech at the
Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference.
"This grenade is another example of how the Pentagon's so called 'non
lethal' weapons programs are consistently chipping away at restrictions
on two of the most deadly kinds of arms, biological and chemical weapons.
Programs that develop so called non-lethal chemical and biological
weapons should simply be abolished," says Hammond.
Links to items mentioned in this release:
US program on incapacitating (bio)chemical agents
Anti-material biological weapons: News Release
(On both items also please see the JNLWD documents collection)