Persuade, Change, and Influence: The Use of Psychological Operations Against the Russian Federation

Russia’s U.N. representative, Vasily Nebenzya, told the U.N. Security Council that Russia had discovered “ at least 30 Ukrainian laboratories working on diseases including anthrax, cholera and “the plague,” with funding and oversight by the U.S. military.

He said the “reckless” activity included research related to diseases born by birds, lice and fleas. He warned, `We call on you to think about a very real biological danger to the people in European countries which can result from an uncontrolled spread of bio-agents from Ukraine,’

U.S. officials have denied all such charges and suggested that Moscow may be making the allegations as a pretext for its own use of chemical or biological warfare in Ukraine. Britain also endorsed the US point of view.

CBW a real threat?

On several occasions in the past the USA and Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union) accused each other of doing research to make bio-weapons. But, no concrete action was taken to ferret out the truth. The West remained largely engaged in trumpeting the hoax of “dirty bomb “ignoring the threat emanating from the CBW.

Revelations by dissident scientists

Russian Ken Alibek’s revelations

In Cold War era, news portals used to be flooded with revelations about “Soviet Union’s stockpiles of bio-terror weapons”.Testimonies by Soviet defectors were used by international media to criticise Russian bio-weapons programme.

After defecting to the USA, Ken Alibek, deputy chief of Russia’s bio-weapon programme Biopreparat, reported in 1992 that the ‘Soviets had manufactured 40 tons of weaponised smallpox, a virus thought to have been eradicated from face of the earth’.He further revealed that ‘Russia’s arsenal of disease included anthrax, plague, tularemia, brucellosis, Q fever and glanders’.

Current medical research treats Alibek’s revelations as propaganda gimmicks.What is the truth about Russia’s bio-terror weapons? Russia has never tested or used weaponised smallpox.Pamela Weintraub points out, in her Bio-terrorism (page 80), that it was the British forces that ‘first used small pox as a biological weapon during the French and Indian Wars (1754-67).The British forces in North America distributed blankets used by small pox patients to American Indians aiding the French.The resulting epidemic killed more than 50% of affected tribes’.

Chinese Dr Le-Meng Yan’s revelations

In an interview with India Today‘s Gaurav Sawant, Chinese virologist Dr Le-Meng Yan allegedChinese military scientists investigated weaponising coronaviruses five years before the Covid-19 pandemic. She produced some documents as the ‘smoking gun’ evidence.

Sheargued that the virus did not emerge from the wet market at Wuhan, that it came from a Chinese military lab.

Civilised west used CBW

It is a bitter historical fact that the civilised West (colonists) never had any compunction in using nuclear or CBW against the hapless people. The North American colonists’ gifted blankets and linens contaminated with smallpox to Red Indians. The virus caused inflicted disfiguring scars, blindness and death. This tactic was a crude form of biological warfare.

A 19th-century historian Francis Parkmanwas the first to report this Colonial-age weaponizing of smallpox against Native Americans. He came across correspondence in which Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander in chief of the British forces in North America in the early 1760s, discussed its use with Col. Henry Bouquet, a subordinate on the western frontier during the French and Indian War.

Lethality of bio-weapons

A bio/chemical bomb was actually used by Japan’s former doomsday-cult Guru Shoko Asahara.The Guru was sentenced to death (February 27) `for masterminding the deadly 1995 nerve/chemical gas (sarin) attack on the Tokyo subway and a string of other crimes that killed 27 people’.

The cult’s quest for biological weapons was overshadowed by its chemical attack capability.The cult members were trying to develop botulinium toxin by utilising toxin on green mamba snake and poisonous mushroom spores.

Persuade, Change, and Influence: The Use of Psychological Operations Against the Russian Federation

Professor Ramesh Chandra points out in his Global Terrorism (volume 1, page 27), says, ‘Terrorist interest in chemical and biological weapons is not surprising, given the relative ease with which some of these weapons can be produced in simple laboratories…Although popular fiction and national attention have focused on terrorist use of nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons are more likely choices for such groups’.

Not only sarin, but also several other chemical agents like mustard, tabun, soman and VX are capable of dual use as pesticides and as a chemical weapon.Chandra (page 30 op. cit) points out, “Chemical warfare agents can quite literally be manufactured in a kitchen or basement in quantities for sufficient for mass-casualty attacks”.

Cost aspect

Nuclear labs are easy to detect as they generate radiation signatures. But, CBW labs ooze out no signatures to be detected by Geiger meters or other means.

Experts agree that it is more difficult to manufacture Sarin gas, used by the “terrorists” in Japan, than mustard, tabun, soman, et al. To some experts, an effective bio-terrorism facility could be built for $ 200,000 to 2 million. A crude nuclear bomb would cost $5,433,000). Researchers Peter Zimmerman and Jeffrey Lewis (wrote in Foreign Policy, terrorists can construct a nuclear device within the United States, which could be a highly-enriched uranium bullet that they could fire through a gun. As for the physics and computation of the device, a senior physicist with two assistants could be hired at a cost of $200,000. Metallurgy and casting would cost $270,000, precision machining and construction $230,000, gun design, assembly and training $230,000, electronics, arming, fusing and firing $150,000, other facilities $200,000, fissile material between $300,000 and $500,000 and transportation $153,000. The total cost would be $5,433,000.

Nuclear/CBW capability

Itis pertinent to mention that: (1) Robert S. McNamara, in his address to the World Bank Annual Conference on Development Economics at Washington, DC, as far back as on April 25, 1991 inter alia classified India among the’ Countries reported by the Western governments as seeking a CW capability or suspected to be possessing chemical weapons’. The explanatory footnote to the Table 111-2: Distribution of Chemical Weapons, 1990, states that the classified countries denied possession of chemical weapons, or intentions to acquire such weapons (Source: The Post-Cold War World and its Implications for Military Expenditures in the. Developing Countries, by Robert McNamara).

India even conducted mock exercises against the CBW attack. The police claimed to have seized a rare pencil pistol and 25 “chemical” cartridges from a militant hideout in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, leading to suspicion those militants might be switching over to chemical or biological weapons from conventional arms. The pistol and cartridges, marked “neroxin” were seized from the house of Bashir Khan at Krishipora-Nagrimalpora village, the Sub-District Police Officer, Handwara, the Altaf Khan, said today. Khan said during the inspection of the ammunition, one of the police officers suffered giddiness and had to be referred to Army hospital for treatment, leading to the suspicion that the cartridges might be carrying chemical or biological agents’.

Dual-use chemical factories

Methyl isocyanates were being produced at the Union Carbide India when it exploded killing thousands of people. There were 27 factories producing products including Carbaryl through cyanates supplied by UCIL.

An explosiontook place at a Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh factor manufacturing styrene, also known as ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene.Exposure to ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene can affect the central nervous system ,causing headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression.

It is primarily used in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins.

Unconscious children being carried by parents in their arms, people laying on roads, health workers scrambling to attend to those affected by the styrene vapour refreshed grim memories of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. Who knows India has weaponised the aforementioned chemicals for it denied access to foreign ournalist to the factories’ sites.

India itself fears a CBW attack from militants. The Washington Post reported in 2013 that the police in occupied Kashmir published a notice in the Greater Kashmir (now under black out), advising people about nuclear-war survival tips. The tips included constructing well-stocked bunkers in basements or front yards, and having a stock of food and batteries or candles to last at least two weeks.

Allegations galore uninvestigated

The allegation that COVID19 emerged from a wet market in Wuhan could never be verified.Speculation about origin of COVID19 has engendered questions about weapons of mass destruction.

Pakistan and Azad Kashmir accuse India of using chemical weapons

Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister accused India of using chemical weapons against defenceless Kashmiris. Earlier, the AJK president and Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) had accused Indian forces of using chemical agents to kill unarmed protestors (Dawn, May 10, 2020, India using chemical munitions in Kashmir: FO

2017 Dawn Dec 7, 2017). Being a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), India can’t produce or use such weapons. It is unprecedented for the world’s largest democracy to use chemical weapons against civilians.

Amnesty International and other human rights organisations should verify this allegation. Besides, our FO should invoke the CWC’s ‘challenge inspection’ clause. Under it, India stands bound to the principle of ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections (by the CWC Director-General) with no right of refusal.

Concluding remark

The allegations about CBW by some countries should be investigated.