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Good Read, Impossible Quest
on July 29, 2012
Great read and worth it just for the extended bio's of these five who lived interesting lives.
But the quest to ban nuclear weapons has a pretty strong feel of Don Quixote. It's not clear anyone now in power in any of the nuclear weapon states match their fervor for the quest.
And it just may be the lack of interest is because of something the author was either too polite to bring up with the five or just not be aware of.
During the Cold War the U.S. renounced the use of biological warfare. We physically shut down and then dismantled our bioweapons programs and destroyed our stocks of these weapons. The Soviet Union signed the Biological Weapons Convention treaty in 1975 and agreed to do the same. Instead, the Soviets hid their program and in violation of the disarmament treaty they signed began a massive buildup of weaponized biological agents - anthrax, smallpox, etc.
The Soviet Union built a weapons program that was as large as their nuclear weapons program - except we knew _nothing_ about it. Nothing. They were able to hide a weapons program that had ~65,000 thousand people working on it without us knowing about it, let alone talking about ending it (because they claimed they already had.) See "The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History" by Leitenberg, Zilinskas and Kuhn.
Our intelligence system failed. Our arms control treaties were negotiated with someone lying to our faces and laughing behind our backs. The consequences for our country and the world could have been horrific.
These five cold warriors were intimately involved with that failure of intelligence and those arms reduction treaties. I am all for any program that results in the massive reduction of weaponizable fissile material. However, at a minimum these five should address why if we couldn't see a weapons program as large as the Soviet Bioweapons program, why it won't happen again on the path to nuclear abolition.