Was versteht man unter Biowaffen?

The United Nations consider biological weapons as "systems that disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants". Together with nuclear and chemical agents, they make up the group of so-called weapons of mass destruction. In 1972, the so-called Biological Weapons Convention on the "Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction" was opened for signature and entered into force on 26 March 1975.

Presently, there are about 200 viruses or bacteria that can be used as a weapon. Smallpox, plague and anthrax are some of the most dangerous pathogens. The yellow fever virus and the tuberculosis bacteria, however, are considered to be less dangerous as they are relatively easy to treat.

There is no proof of any military use of these weapons in the recent past. Single incidents occurred in which biological warfare agents were used in attacks (such as the so-called anthrax letters in 2001). Due to the special nature of research into biological weapons and insufficient transparency, today, it is still impossible to say whether any countries or how many and which states may in secret still carry on with a programme that develops biological weapons. Today, experts, therefore, assume that not one country in the world is working on the development of biological weapons.

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