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Russian nanotechnology "weapons": defensive or offensive?

Although it is distressing to read the headline from ITAR-TASS “Russia to design nanotechnology weapons — commander“, when one reads the text, at first these “weapons” sound more like defensive protection than offensive weapons:

Principally new weapons based on nanotechnology will be designed in Russia within 15 years for combating radiation, chemical and biological terrorism, the chief of the Russian Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defence Troops, Colonel-General Vladimir Fillipov, told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday.

“In the conditions of the increasing threat of radiation, chemical and biological terrorism, specialists of the troops take an active part in the development of systems and complexes for ensuring safety of facilities of state importance,” he said.

But next, there is also mention of “arms”:

“The result of interaction of the troops with research organisations of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the industry has been the creation of a scientific-technological basis that allows looking with cautious optimism at the development of arms and means of radiation, chemical and biologic defence within 15 years,” Filippov said.

He said he pinned hopes on the Programme of Coordination of Work in the Field of Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials that “will allow developing advanced arms and means of radiation, chemical and biological defence at a new qualitative level”.

This is a translation issue. Do they mean defensive-only technologies, or offensive as well? It would be great to get a clarification on this. —Christine

10 Responses to “Russian nanotechnology "weapons": defensive or offensive?”

  1. James G. Says:

    I think it’s safe to say, everyone is going to have nanotech defensive and offensive weapons, except maybe the Swiss, etc. What’s important is that the free nations stay ahead of the closed dictatorships like Russia, North Korea, China, etc, or we WILL have serious problems.

  2. Nanoman Says:

    I agree James. That is one reason I tell people we need to start focusing more on serious Molecular Manufacturing technology such as nanofactories and assemblers, and when I say focus I mean invest in a serious Manhattan style Project to make assembler systems. Not just nanomaterials which bring us there incrementally.

  3. Shannon Love Says:

    Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “defensive” weapon. Being able to protect oneself from attack grants as much advantage as being able to attack by the same means. Protected from attack one can safely launch attacks of one’s own.

    Easily half of all military innovations throughout history could be qualified as “defensive.” Fortifications, armor, minefields etc only function when and enemy attacks. Yet, having such defenses makes it much easy to go on the offensive.

    Game theory shows that standing on the defensive is always a losing strategy in an environment of evolving capabilities. Since the aggressor gets to chose the method and time of attack, the defender must simultaneously defend against all possible forms of attack. Resources not expended on attacking are quickly consumed by the attempt to create a universal defense.

    The arms race has been ongoing since the first proto-life form ate another and it will not stop with any new technology.

  4. steve poling Says:

    You seem to forget that the Swiss have this wonderful reputation for being neutral because they are too costly to invade. (Conversely, Belgium was invaded in both world wars.) The reason why the Vatican has Swiss guards is that Swiss mercenaries were regarded as the toughest guys in Europe and were subsequently outlawed. The Swiss have been neutral because they’ve been left alone. They’ve been left alone because they’ve been too hard to conquer. Ergo, I expect the Swiss will use nanotech if it maintains their defensive advantage.

  5. ZZMike Says:

    As we used to say during the Cold War, our weapons are weapons of peace, while the other side’s are weapons of aggression.

    I certainly agree with James – that we stay ahead of certain other countries. One question, though, is who these countries are. North Korea, a future Iran – certainly. Russia (once our enemy, then our friend, now uncertain (bears watching (no pun intended)). China, definitely. They may be a trading partner (one-sided though it is), but they have their own goals, and being second to us is not one of them (either here on land or in space).

    The technical question seems to be, what can nanotechnology produce on a large scale? (I’ll look at the rests of this site for possible answers.)

  6. Nanoman Says:

    Consider this. Serious molecular nanotechnology can be used to produce a monster like the “Blob” of the movies: A roiling ever-motive mass of disassemblers that target organic or even inorganic materials, and break them down for food and fuel, and even make more of itself (replication).
    Lets say this was made. What are some possible defenses that can be used against such a creature, apart from extreme heat or cold? Or would those even work against a true nanotech version?

  7. Neil Sorensen Says:

    Who’s we? The United States of America? I’m afraid nanotech weapons will be far more diffused throughout the world than can be easily anticipated. Russia’s thermobaric nano bomb probably used relatively simple advancements in material production or coating, and even years ago the US military was already using nano version of thermobaric rocket launchers. Developments that are being made are being kept closely guarded wherever they are being made. It’s just as likely that nanoweapons are being made in China and Vietnam as in the US or Russia. I have been saying that only tweaking current weapons with nano ingredients will make for incredibly devastating weapons, which is far more of a concern DNA sensing nanobot assassins or other far fetched weaponry systems. That’s one good argument why there should be a regulatory framework for nanomaterials, which perhaps should be dealt with as controlled substances.

  8. wenn Says:

    i am not agree with the creation of nano weapons! how do if those weapons are used in a bad way?
    this world are going to gone….

  9. pexx Says:

    Everything that would bring USA out of its hyperdominant position in this world,is a good thing.One of these things is dramatic rise of Russia`s technological power,no metter how they achieved it(oil and gas export).It is yet much better than robbery of the third world.Cheers.

  10. Says:

    Yes that’s quite safe …i dont think there are too many doubts if Russia have this type of weapons

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