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War on terror: Anthrax Fact File
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Biological warfare
Biological warfare
In 1995 the US listed 17 countries which it said had biological weapons programmes. These were: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Egypt, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Bulgaria, India, South Korea, South Africa, China and Russia. But Russian leaders insisted they had terminated their biological weapons programme years before.

  • Other countries including the USA and the UK have had biological weapons programmes in the past but these were ended in 1972 when international concern led to a treaty banning the production and stockpiling of these weapons.

  • During World War II Britain tested the use of anthrax as a weapon on the Scottish Island of Gruinard. The island was not decontaminated until 1987.

  • The Aum Shinrikyo group, which released Sarin on the Tokyo underground in 1995, also released anthrax. No one was infected.

  • The biggest human exposure to inhalation anthrax occurred in 1979 at a military biology centre in Sverdlovsk, Russia. Anthrax spores were accidentally released resulting in 79 anthrax cases, 68 of which were fatal.
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