Use of Sarin in Bioterrorism
Bioterrorism attacks are feared world over as they involve the use of bio-agents to inflict intentional harm. Scientists fear that deadly viruses and bacteria could be used by terrorists to develop weapons of mass destruction. Sarin which is also known as GB is an odorless, colorless and extremely potent liquid that is a nerve agent. The dangerous aspect of sarin led to its classification by the UN resolution 687 among the weapons of mass destruction. Production and piling of stock was later outlawed in 1993 when it was classified under schedule 1 substance by the Chemical Weapons Convention (Sarin Savagery. 1995).
The mode of action is inhibiting the enzyme cholinesterase. After inhibiting the enzyme, there occurs a synapse buildup of acetylcholine causing a continuous transmission of nerve impulses making muscle and organs not to relax. Sarin degrades after several weeks to months (Pilling, 2004).
One of the documented attacks that utilized GB was the Tokyo subway attack on March 20, 1995. The attack was deemed as domestic terrorism as those that were involved in the attack included members of Aum Shinrikyo. The attack was a coordinated with five simultaneous attacks being executed that saw thirteen people dead, injured about fifty and caused temporary visual problems for about a thousand others (Sarin Savagery. 1995). Sarin was carried in plastic bags covered in newspaper and these bags were dropped and punctured several times with sharp umbrellas on the train floor. This resulted in the poisoning of the trains’ passengers and anybody who came in contact with it (Pilling, 2004).
However, sarin presents an immediate threat which is short-lived because it evaporates quickly. Governments worldwide should prepare to combat any form of bio-terrorism threat by setting up teams to respond to bioterrorism attacks. Also these teams should conduct regular training on the response to such threats.
Pilling, D. (2004, Feb 28). Sect leader sentenced to death for sarin gas attack on tokyo subway. Financial Times. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/249478488?accountid=45049; http://search.epnet.com?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/ProQ%3Aabiglobal&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=unknown&rft.jtitle=Financial+Times&rft.atitle=Sect+leader+sentenced+to+death+for+sarin+gas+attack+on+Tokyo+subway%3A+%5BLONDON+1ST+EDITION%5D&rft.au=Pilling%2C+David&rft.aulast=Pilling&rft.aufirst=David&rft.date=2004-02-28&rft.volume=&rft.issue=&rft.spage=1&rft.isbn=&rft.btitle=&rft.title=Financial+Times&rft.issn=03071766; http://www.emeraldinsight.com?genre=article&sid=ProQ:&atitle=Sect+leader+sentenced+to+death+for+sarin+gas+attack+on+Tokyo+subway&title=Financial+Times&issn=03071766&date=2004-02-28&volume=&issue=&spage=1&author=Pilling%2C+David
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