WMD experts agree that bioterror is leading thret to the U.S.

When asked what the chief threat facing the United States was, 250 weapons of mass destruction experts agreed it was bioterrorism, according to retired Colonel Randall Larsen, director of The Institute of Homeland Security.

While the killing of Osama bin Laden is dramatic and laudable, Larsen said that bin Laden had many followers and that in a fractured al-Qaeda there are many more leaders, according to TimesHerald.com.

Larsen said that a nuclear attack is not the number one hazard facing the United States. It takes billions of dollars to develop nuclear weapons and the containment process of identifying nuclear material and locking it down has met with considerable success.

On the other hand, the costs of preparing a biological attack can be relatively low, between $50,000 and $100,000, TimesHerald.com reports. Likewise, the expertise needed to produce them can be gained in a couple of years of graduate school.

Larsen said that biological weapons can be produced in America with no need to smuggle in dangerous and necessary parts and equipment. Massive damage could be caused with little more than a pickup truck and a $400 sprayer. Two to five pounds of anthrax could expose 380,000 people.

Stopping such an attack would be so difficult that many observers operate under the impression that it is only a matter of time before the United States suffers an attack, TimesHerald.com reports.

To Larsen, the key to defending against such an operation is a quick ability to diagnose victims, the provision of safe and effective vaccines, and a national capacity to take care of many people in a short amount of time.

An estimate of the nation’s readiness conducted last year was not optimistic, and the cost to prepare against such a threat, or even a naturally occurring pandemic, would be high. But, according to Larsen, doing so is more central to the United States’ protection in the future than in building expensive nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.