Transcribed from image (pp.2-3) of magazine
Thanks to Lena (the hyena) for making this available on-line
CHEMICAL and BIOLOGICAL WARFARE RESEARCH in BRITAIN and the U.S.
In the U.S.A. the Army Chemical Corps, dating from World War 1, felt in 1959 that it was threatened by the development of nuclear weapons, and to prevent its own extinction embarked on a publicity campaign (“Operation Blue Skies”), the theme of which was “War without Death” Its budget rose from 35 million dollars in 1959 to 57 millions in 1961, and 158 millions in 1964. This expenditure does not include 75 millions which were needed to build the research centre which covers 1300 acres at Fort Detrick, near Fredrick, Maryland. Only about 15% of its findings are ever published, but these concern such bacterial diseases as anthrax, glanders, dysentery, brucellosis, plague and tularaemia; rickettsial diseases (Q fever and Rocky Mountain fever); viral diseases (dengue, several types of encephalitis, psittacosis and yellow fever); a fungal disease (coccidiodomycosis); and botulism toxin. There is also work on plant diseases, such as a rice blast fungus which as repeatedly damaged Asian rice crops.
There is active liaison between Detrick and the U.S. Public Health Service [Public Health Administration],.including the transfer of funds. This is additional money not shown as going towards military research, which is taken from the Health Service and used for military purposes.
On 1st September 1959 a young technician came down with pneumonic plague, but recovered. A technician infected with the disease at Porton Down in England  was not so lucky.)
How are the weapons tested? – Seventh Day Adventists, a religious sect who survive in the army as non-combatants, volunteer as guinea-pigs and “occasional experiments have been performed on prisoners”. Field tests of chemical and biological weapons are performed at Dugway Proving Ground, an area in Utah which covers 1500 square miles on the fringe of the Great Salt Lake. 900 people are employed there and these ‘experiments’ are performed on animals. The U.S. and Britain have an arrangement whereby 12 British officers attend a course in the latest developments in chemical, biological and radiological weapons every June at Dugway. Lessons learnt there are passed on to the British Army’s own chemical warfare school at Winterbourne Gunner, Wiltshire, where unit instructors are taught. Such training is not widely practised in the Army but Rhine Army exercises include defensive measures against that kind of attack.
Other U.S. installations include:- Pine Bluff arsenal, Arkansas, which employs 1400 people, producing biological and toxic-chemical munitions and munitions for ‘riot-control’; Edgewood Arsenal where production also takes place; Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver, Colorado, where nerve gas, mustard gas, ‘incapacitants’, and anti-crop weapons are produced; and an installation at Newport, Indiana, where a plant has been working day and night since 1960, producing Sarin, a lethal nerve gas, and loading it into rockets, landmines and artillery shells. The current annual lists the following chemical agents as standardised for use:- Sarin (GB), a nerve gas which can kill in the tiniest quantities; VX which is similar to GB but evaporates more slowly; a blister agent (HD) which is a ‘Purified’ form of mustard gas; an incapacitant (BZ) which creates hallucinations and giddiness; a vomiting agent (DM), which causes sneezing, coughing, vomiting and severe headache; two tear gases (CS and CM), the latter of which also causes burning, itching and blisters. All three (DM, CS and CM) have been used in Vietnam.
This might be a suitable point to refer back to the causes of pneumonic plague in England and the U.S.A., since plague has become a serious hazard in Vietnam. Is it being deliberately spread by the Americans, and if so, how is it done? Plague can be transmitted in two ways: by the bite of fleas which have fed on infected rats, and by droplet infection from one person to another (this being the cause of the rapid spread of pneumonic plague during the Black Death. A technique for producing and disseminating a potent aerosol containing the bacteria would thus be “ideal”. This would involve testing the survival of the bacteria in aerosols, studying the effects of climatic factors on survival, infectivity and virulence, and developing methods of maintaining these ‘desirable’ properties for as long as possible.
The knowledge and techniques required to accomplish this entire programme are reflected in the hundreds of papers which have been published from Porton. Much of it can be interpreted as preparation for offensive biological warfare. Much of it can equally be explained as prudent defensive research. Biological research can be defensive in a different way from nuclear programmes. Whereas the latter has ‘defensive’ properties only in so far as it may be a ‘deterrent’, the former can be used to develop vaccines etc. which might really help people faced with biological attack. Nevertheless there still seems to be a lot of work on offensive weapons. A second difference between nuclear and biological warfare research is that [while] the existence (and cost) of the British nuclear deterrent is well known, the extent of our [sic] research into methods of offensive biological warfare is still shrouded in uncertainty. There is no good reason for this “Conspiracy of Silence”. The public should know what is being done in their name. Does Britain have biological weapons, and does the Government believe in a biological ‘deterrent’?
I welcome the revision being made of the pamphlet “Conspiracy of Silence” by members of the ad hoc Porton action group and hope that the proposed demonstration in May will receive a lot of support.
Published in Megaton, magazine of Aberdeen YCND, 1967
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sources not available to “DAN” (or anyone) in 1967 include:
Hammond PM, Carter G. From Biological Warfare to Healthcare: Porton Down, 1940-2000. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002: the official Porton history.
B. Balmer, 'The Drift of Biological Weapons Policy in the
1945-65’ in The Journal of Strategic Studies Vol.20 No.4 (December 1997)
B. Balmer, 'Biological Weapons: The Threat in Historical Perspective', Medicine, Conflict and Survival, Vol. 18 No. 2 (April-June 2002) pp.120-137.
E.A. Willis, 'Seascape with monkeys and guinea-pigs:Britain's biological weapons research programme, 1948-54', Medicine, Conflict & Survival Vol.19, No.4, 2003, 285-302
and numerous files now declassified in the National Archives.
Main gate at Porton, 1965:
Scientists (or Special Branch men?) observe demonstrators.