U.S. Biological Weapons - History - Cold War (1946-69)

Cold War (1946-69)

Immediately following World War II, production of U.S. biological warfare agents went from "factory-level to laboratory-level". Meanwhile, work on biological weapons delivery systems increased. By 1950 the principal U.S. bio-weapons facility was located at Camp Detrick in Maryland under the auspices of the Research and Engineering Division of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. The U.S. also maintained bio-warfare facilities at Fort Terry, an animal research facility on Plum Island. From the end of World War II through the Korean War, the U.S. Army, the Chemical Corps and the U.S. Air Force all made great strides in their biological warfare programs, especially concerning delivery systems.

The U.S. biological program expanded significantly during the Korean War. From 1952-1954 the Chemical Corps maintained a biological weapons research and development facility at Fort Terry on Plum Island, New York. The Fort Terry facility's focus was on anti-animal biological weapon research and development; the facility researched more than a dozen potential BW agents. A facility was opened in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Pine Bluff Arsenal and by 1954 the production of weapons-grade agents began.

Another substantive expansion phase was during the Kennedy-Johnson years, after McNamara initiated Project 112 as a comprehensive initiative, starting in 1961. Despite an increase in testing, the readiness for biological warfare remained limited after this program. A 10 November 1969 report by the Interdepartmental Political-Military Group submitted its findings to the Nixon administration that the American BW capability was limited:

No large inventory of dry (powdered) anti-personnel lethal or incapacitating biological agents is maintained and only eight aircraft spray disseminators are in the inventory. No missile delivery capabilities are currently maintained for delivery of biological agents, although a bomblet containing warhead for the sergeant missile has been standardized, but not produced in quantity. Small quantities of both lethal and incapacitating biological agents are maintained in special warfare devices.

Subsequently Nixon announced that the US was unilaterally renouncing its biological warfare program.

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