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The Threat of Biological Weapons Must Be Addressed

Editor's Note: Joshua Lederberg, chairman of The Scientist's Editorial Advisory Board, edited the book Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat, to be published this spring (May 1999) by The MIT Press. The following article, adapted from the book's epilogue, is printed with permission of The MIT Press. As the works for Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat were being assembled, our policy perspectives were informed by new happenings and governmental reactions. Saddam Hussein renewed his h

Joshua Lederberg

Editor's Note: Joshua Lederberg, chairman of The Scientist's Editorial Advisory Board, edited the book Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat, to be published this spring (May 1999) by The MIT Press. The following article, adapted from the book's epilogue, is printed with permission of The MIT Press.

As the works for Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat were being assembled, our policy perspectives were informed by new happenings and governmental reactions. Saddam Hussein renewed his harassment of the United Nations inspectors seeking closure on Iraq's programs in biological weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. For the nth time, final rupture seemed imminent, and with it the threat of U.S. cruise missile attacks on relevant Iraqi facilities. That escalation might be a deterrent/warning, or it might provoke unreasoned responses, including the use of biological weapons if the regime inferred it had nothing more to lose.

The dilemma persists how to invoke...

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