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Bad Things Come in Small Packages
While most armies in the world shun their use, and military authorities exclude them from warfare, the technology to produce biological and chemical weapons is widely available. Moreover, these weapons are cheap, easy to conceal, and very effective. Since September 11, 2001, biological weapons seem to have become the weapon of choice among the disenfranchised militants of the world. Some people are worried chemical warfare may follow.
Chemical weapons are abundant in variety. Their effectiveness is determined by several factors, including age, purity, weather conditions, and choice of dissemination. They include nerve agents, blister agents, and choking agents, all of which can be ingested through the eyes, lungs, or skin. Sarin, a type of nerve gas, was used by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in March 1995, killing 12 people and injuring more than 5,500 on a Tokyo subway.
Biological weapons, by definition, are any infectious agent, such as a bacterium or virus, used deliberately to inflict harm on soldiers and civilians alike. This classification can include toxins and poisons derived biologically. Biological weapons can be produced nearly anywhere, from government labs to suburban kitchens.
Experts contend, however, that the transformation of a deadly virus or bacterium into an effective weapon is anything but straightforward: A conventional bomb would likely destroy the germ as it exploded. In contrast, dissemination via alternative methods, such as surface mail, has recently proved quite effective.
1. shun v. 回避
2. disenfranchised a. 被剥夺公权的
3. ingest v. 摄取
4. toxin n. 毒素