Thursday, April 14, 2005

Nanotechnology and the International Regime on Chemical and Biological Weapons

Sorry, but I had some family business.

Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra & Francisco Augayo, "Nanotechnology and the International Regime on Chemical and Biological Weapons," NANTECHNOLOGY LAW AND BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2:1, 2005 (pp. ). Electronic version does not provide continuous pagination.


This article does what articles on nanotechnology and weaponry generally fail to do well. The authors from El Colegio de Mexico, examine how advances in nanoscience improves existing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) rather than speculating on nanoweapons per se. They avoid using "gray goo" as a dominant metaphor.

"...[T]he wide spectrum of application of nanotechnologies and their inherent flexibility makes them an ideal foundation for the development of a new generation of weapons that may replace traditional chemical and biological armaments (CBW)."

The authors argue nanoscience could lead to a vertical proliferation of this class of WMDs. They complain convergence (nano-bio-cogno...) could lead to "enhanced mechanisms for substance delivery, a higher capability to target specific physiological functions, and the possibility to generate multilayers CBW."

As to the first function they suggest sophisticted means for "introducing toxic agent in the human body especially given that under normal exposure they would be difficult to be absorbed into the body."

As to the second function, they warn that designer molecules "could be used to block(or over-promote) key metabolic processes at different grades to cause a defined hostile result from temporary incompacitation to death."

As to the third function, they suggest nanocompositve which are activited given very specific physical conditions "(such as radiation levels, temperature, and so forth) can grow into a new generation of controllable, multiplayered biochemical weapons."

This last function is especially prone to parallel proliferation. "The ability to specify when a weapon will become disabling through the use of secondary technologies can limit their prolfieration among opposing states with lesser resources."

Those with the means will force these with lesser means to consider use or lose or nothing to lose as a controlling operational strategem. A response to a multilayers CBM capability might be simple acts of indiscriminate terrorism.

The article ends with a recommendations to improve the current CBW control regime.

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