The United States biological weapons program
officially began in spring 1943 on orders from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt
. Research continued following World War II as the U.S. built up a large stockpile of biological agents
. Throughout its history the program was secret. It became controversial when it was later revealed that laboratory and field testing (some of the latter using simulants on non-consenting individuals) had been common. The official policy of the United States was first to deter the use of bio-weapons against U.S. forces and secondarily to retaliate if deterrence failed. There exists no evidence that the U.S. ever used biological agents against an enemy in the field (see below for alleged uses).
In 1969, President Richard Nixon
ended all offensive (i.e., non-defensive) aspects of the U.S. bio-weapons program. In 1975 the U.S. ratified both the 1925 Geneva Protocol
and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention
(BWC) — these are international treaties outlawing biological warfare. Recent U.S. biodefense
programs, however, have raised concerns that the U.S. may be pursuing research that is outlawed by the BWC.
Early history (1918-41)
The United States' first interest in any form of biological warfare came at the close of World War I
. The only agent the U.S. tested was the toxin ricin
. The U.S. conducted tests concerning two methods of ricin dissemination, the first, involved adhering the toxin to shrapnel
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