No, because it would be stupid. The strain of Coronavirus we’re currently concerned about (COVID-19 aka novel coronavirus) has an incubation time of 2-14 days, so for a couple days to weeks nothing happens. Then some of the targeted population will get sick. Most of them experience effects similar to a cold. A portion of them will get very sick, but in the end, about 3% die: not exactly a devastation of whatever military unit was targeted.
No, because the U.S. is a signatory to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) which prohibits the use of deadly biological agents in warfare. So doing so would be illegal.
The use of biological weapons like weaponizing the coronavirus is currently against international law and use of such weapons would be considered a war crime.
It’s also not a terribly smart thing to do. Unleashing a weaponized coronavirus against your enemy will likely cause this weaponized virus to spread through the civilian population in your target area, which will spread further until it causes a global infection outbreak. In the long run, you’ll just end up inflicting massive casualties against everyone, friend and enemy alike.
If the US (or somebody) wanted to use germ warfare, the corona virus isn’t a good candidate. As mentioned, the incubation period is too long. Plus, your own soldiers and civilians are just as susceptible as the invaders.
A germ agent doesn’t necessarily have to kill, but it is better to incapacitate than kill outright. Killing a soldier means he can’t fight. Making him so sick he needs to be evacuated means that you are tying up other personnel transporting and treating him. And if they just leave him where he lays, that’s bad for morale.
If you are talking about Dugway Proving Grounds, that’s a facility that tests biological and chemical weapons and defenses against those types of weapons. While they have anthrax, VX nerve agents, and all kinds of nasty stuff on site, that’s not the same as saying that they have the stuff already loaded into bombs and ready to be dropped onto the enemy. One of the primary functions of Dugway Proving Grounds is to come up with defenses against these sorts of weapons, so of course they need to have some of the nasty stuff on-hand to test what actually neutralizes it.
Admittedly, I am not all that familiar with the site. Do you have an actual cite that says they are creating biological WMDs there and aren’t just testing various things for possible defenses of them?
Part of the trouble with biological weapons restrictions is that many of the same techniques used to make the weapons are also useful in learning how to protect one’s population from those kind of diseases. Per the 1972 convention already mentioned, the United States does not officially—nor I suspect, even unofficially—have biological weapons. They do have officially acknowledged examples and cultures of infectious diseases that are used for study. Things like cultures containing Variola major. Analyzing pathogens for how they bind to target cells is important in developing treatments and vaccines. This is different from creating compounds or preparations of these viruses or bacteria that are suitable for deployment as a weapon.
As to Utah, the US government has several military installations there. I suspect you are referring to the Dugway Proving Ground, which has been a testing area for both chemical and biological weapons research in the past. And has had a few miscues involving same, notoriously causing the death of some 4,000 to 7,000 sheep in 1968 when the winds zigged instead of zagged. AFAIK, there are no sites at Dugway that are contaminated by Bacillus anthracis or its spores. Unlike the infamous Scottish island of Gruinard, which was contaminated for many years by such testing. No biological weapons or chemical weapons are stored at Dugway.
Bluntly, IMHO the United States does not feel it needs chemical or biological weapons to achieve its political goals, and so feels it is safer in a world where everyone agrees not to possess or use these weapons. Nuclear retaliation would not be out of the question in the event of a nation using such weapons against United States personnel or its citizens.
WMD is a really fucking stupid acronymm, mass casualties sure but mass destruction is not a good descriptor of a bio weapon.
As others have said, its not that great for what people think its doing. It has a R0 value of two or three, while the measles has R16 and its the type that you would not use on a country with a first class health system. Iraq pre OIF, Iran currently, Cuba, NK that makes sense to deploy an NBC weapon to clog up their health care systems and screw up their manufacturing capability.
Russians were more into Bio weapons than the States, whose nukes and delivery systems worked just fine. I will say that Bio is the way to go if you were gonna go to war with China, just not the beer virus.
Likely even less effective than that. The demographics of the military target are quite a bit different than those of the general population. The virus is mostly killing children, senior citizens, and those with immune deficiencies. The target is young adults who are relatively fit and without major health issues.
Factors weighing against the use of of bioweapons include how easily and quickly diseases spread around the modern world (the genesis of outbreaks is just a plane ride away, so one would have to have a highly effective vaccine or treatment available to protect one’s own forces/population while keeping all that work under wraps), and how fast facilities in developed countries can isolate organisms and detect if they’ve been engineered in a lab.
The penalty for being caught delivering a weaponized plague would be severe.
In the old NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) WMD group, nukes are very very expensive, bio-weapons are cheaper but fragile, while chemicals are pretty cheap. No, Wuhan virus is not weaponizable, and biology is just so unreliable. Yes, somebody will imagine applications for diseases. But the law!
Ah, the law. Suppose a hypothetical president, not a big fan of international law, issues an above-top-secret order withdrawing the US from war crime conventions, and another waiving applicable federal laws. Hopefully not tweeting, he informs the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of the new reality and orders deployment of previously banned materials. Is that now a lawful order? Can the Pentagon be forced to authorize biological warfare?
In part the US is researching defense against bioweapons Which can look a lot like playing with bioweapons, but isn’t.
Also, when the US signed the treaty, that didn’t make the existing stores disappear. So de-weaponizing those took time - I’m pretty sure in the 90’s they were still neutralizing nerve agents, which means baking the ammo. At which point they tried to sell the resulting supposedly inert and non-hazardous shells for scrap. Surprisingly, takers were hard to find.
I’d be interested in the legal reasoning that the President in your hypothetical would be using. Given that the 1972 Convention was implemented into federal law with Public Law 101-298. The President doesn’t get to wish that away. Likely, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs would inform the President that “deploying banned materials,” like restarting a biological weapons program, would be against the law, is therefore an illegal order, and the Chair would refuse to carry it out. The penalty for violating the law is a maximum of life imprisonment, for what it’s worth.
I disagree on whether the Wuhan corona virus could be ‘weaponized.’ The term usually refers to concentrating, treating, and packaging a substances for maximum longevity and dispersion against an enemy. I don’t see why this virus would be different for accomplishing these tasks versus another virus. Agreed, that it wouldn’t be as easy as growing, concentrating, and drying anthrax spores. As it is, weaponized or not, the Wuhan bug certainly seems to be doing a number on China, and may indeed lead to significant social and economic change within the PRC. So is the swine flu that has been annihilating Chinese swine stock.
Leaving illegality aside (which wouldn’t stop the current administration), it is also stupid (wouldn’t stop either) since it would inevitably return to your own population.
I could be wrong–I fervently hope I am–but I don’t see how the current virus can be prevented from going global. It has simply spread to too many countries and seems highly contagious. Also has a long incubation time during which you are contagious.
Well thank you all for your answers … So if the enemy has the thought of a cheap weapon to use against another country this bio/med stuff would be more suited for terrorist to use in retaliation for whatever they are mad about.
Then they could laugh at how they messed up the health care of another country.