"'WEAPONS of mass destruction' is a terrifying term. We all have mental images of the horrors of a nuclear attack, and photos of Kurdish and Iranian casualties of Iraqi chemical attacks attest to the devastation of chemical weapons. The third weapon of mass destruction--the biological weapon--has been around at least since the Middle Ages when soldiers catapulted the bodies of dead smallpox victims over fortress walls in the hope of infecting their enemies or at least demoralizing them... Biological agents are of concern in part because of the ease with which many of them can be manufactured, transported, and dispensed. And because of the lag time between a biological attack and the appearance of symptoms in those exposed, biological weapons could be devastating. Many biological agents are contagious, and during this lag time, infected persons could continue to spread the disease, further increasing its reach. Hundreds or even thousands of people could become sick or die if a biological attack were to occur in a major metropolitan area. With the knowledge that several nations have produced and perhaps also deployed biological warfare agents, Congress in 1996 passed the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, which authorizes the Department of Energy to establish a Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program. Under this and similar programs, Lawrence Livermore and other laboratories and institutions are working together to increase this country's capabilities to detect and respond to an attack by biological or chemical weapons."
Laurence Livermore National Laboratory: http://www.llnl.gov
Science & Technology Review (June 1998), p.4-9