The Smallpox Threat: How Secure are Soviet Weapons?

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The news of the day is anthrax. But many fear a much more serious agent of biological terrorism, like smallpox, could be next. Smallpox killed three times as many people as wars did during the 20th century. Right around the time vaccines eliminated smallpox from the world, the Soviet Union embarked on a successful initiative to weaponize the virus that causes smallpox. Most consider smallpox to be a small threat because all the samples in existence are under lock and key. But how secure are the old Soviet technologies since the break-up of the old Soviet Union? Could smallpox or other Soviet weaponry have fallen into the wrong hands?


Jonathan Tucker, author of Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox

This program aired on October 22, 2001.


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