Monday, May 6, 2013

Biocide Conspiracy in Syria

Conflicting reports from Syria accuse both the government and rebels of using the illicit chemical agent Sarin. Why all the uproar? What is Sarin?


I am not a scientist or involved in the military, but I accumulated a lot of knowledge about chemical warfare when I researched my novel, The Biocide Conspiracy. Sarin, the nerve agent that both the rebel and government forces are alleged to have used in Syria is one of the agents I considered, but then discounted in favour of botulinum toxin when I was developing the plot.

Sarin  is a nerve gas that was developed by the Germans in 1930, ostensibly for use as a pesticide. Designated an illicit chemical weapon it is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. But that doesn't mean much to rebel nations and terrorist organizations - Sarin was the agent used in the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1994.


From a military standpoint Sarin is an effective weapon for the following reasons:
  • Dispersal - aerosol is considered to be the most efficient method of dispersal for a large scale chemical attack. Colourless and odourless, the nerve gas, Sarin is ideal for aerosolized dispertion. Pressurized spray tanks fitted to fixed wing aircraft is an inexpensive way of delivering the killing agent to the enemy.

  • Projections of fatalities vary according to the weather, but under appropriate meterological conditions, and with an aerosol generator delivering 1-10 micron particle-size droplets, a single aircraft could disperse 100kg of the nerve gas over a 300km squared area - with dissemination efficiencies of 90% and an estimated 3.5 million fatalities.

  •  Symptoms appear within moments of exposure, followed by a complete loss of muscle control and, ultimately, death.

  • The infection of  a large percentage of the population would cause massive disruption to the enemy's economic, social and political institutions.

  • Sarin breaks down quickly, allowing an invading force to occupy the area without risk.
I researched bacteriological warfare for my novel, The Biocide Conspiracy  and fear that  what is allegedly occuring in Syria is the start of a terrifying phase in warfare. 

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