The latest report Mapping the Global Future on US national security by the National Intelligence Council suggests that a major threat to the country right through to 2020 will be a terrorist biological weapons attack.1 Given the recent intelligence failures concerning biological weapons in Iraq, it might be considered that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion about that conclusion. This paper attempts to answer the question of what the real threat of bioterror is by reference to the open scientific literature. Section 2 of the paper discusses the nature of the agents of concern and in section 3 various potential attack scenarios are reviewed. The overall conclusion is that there are real threats from terrorists with the capability to carry out a range of attacks with biological agents today, but that these threats do not include the one most commentators probably have in mind when they discuss the issue ¿ a weapons of mass destruction scale of attack on people. In the final section of this paper the implications of the analysis for the risk questions we have been posed are addressed
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