|History of Directed Energy Weapons
Definitions/ Electromagnetic Spectrum
Types of Directed Energy Weapons
|Particle Beam, Cosmic rays, Radio Frequency, Infrasonic, Acoustics, and Electromagnetic Energy.
United Nations Committee on Disarmament 1979
Definitions of directed energy weapons such as radiological weapons, particle beam, infrasonic and acoustics, and electromagnetic radiation.
, in 1979, the Soviet Union submitted a document to the Committee on Disarmament in which it listed some types of potential weapons of mass destruction, such as:
a. Radiological weapons (using radioactive materials) which could produce harmful radiation effects similar to effect of a nuclear explosion;
b. Particle-beam weapons based on the use of charged or neutral particles to affect biological targets. Sufficiently powerful bundles of particles could be produced in accelerators used for research; in some operating accelerators, the energy of accelerated particles attained hundreds of millions of electron volts. Reduction of the size and weight of accelerator systems and power sources could permit their use as weapons;
c. Infrasonic "acoustic radiation" weapons. they would utilize harmful effects of infrasonic oscillations on biocurrents of the brain and nervous system;
d. Electromagnetic weapons operating at certain radio-frequency radiations, which could have injurious effects on human organs. Within a few years, devices capable of directional transmission of electromagnetic radiation of enormous power over distances of several hundred kilometres might be developed, and radiation density in excess of safety standards could be produced over areas measuring dozens of square kilometres.
In response, the United States and other Western countries, while expressing readiness to work out agreements on specific types of weapons which might be identified, took the position that a single treaty on the subject of all potential new weapons of mass destruction would have to be so general in its scope and so vague in its definitions that it would not be effective.
Every year since 1979, the General Assembly, on the initiative
This approach is reflected in the expanded draft agreement, the annex to which contains an approximate list of types and systems of weapons of mass destruction, including:
1. Radiological means acting with the aid of radioactive materials;
2. Technical means of inflicting radiation injury based on the use of charged or neutral particles to affect biological targets;
3. Infrasonic means using acoustic radiation to affect biological targets;
4. Means using electromagnetic radiation to affect biological target.
In order to accommodate the views of members of the Committee on Disarmament, the Soviet side had the expanded draft agreement provide for the possibility, should the need arise, of prohibiting specific new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction on the basis of separate agreements.
Thus, the proposals of the USSR on the scope and subject of the prohibition provide for:
a. The conclusion of a comprehensive agreement on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction, with a list of specific types of weapons to be prohibited;
b. The possibility of supplementing the list of prohibited new types of weapons of mass destruction in the future; and
c. the possibility of concluding separate agreements on specific new types of weapons of mass destruction.
Scientific and technical basis for the possible development of certain new types of weapons of mass destruction
The approximate list of possible new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction covers physical effects, the harmful or fatal consequences of which for the human organism have already been thoroughly investigated; the general level and orientations of the corresponding fields of science and technology are such that these physical effects might find a practical application in real weapons in the foreseeable future.
The danger of radiological weapons being developed is based on the existence in principle of the possibility of using radioactive materials in order to injure, damage or cause harm by means of the radioactive radiation produced when such materials decay.
The way in which radioactive materials affect human beings has been adequately studied and consists in the destruction of biological structures under the influence of the ionizing radiation resulting from the radioactive decay of such materials. There is every reason to believe that the effects of radiological weapons, should they be developed, would be similar to the effects of the radioactive materials which are formed in nuclear explosions and which cause the radioactive contamination of the area. The danger of radiological weapons appearing is increased by the rapid development of nuclear industry and technology in many countries of the world; this creates the objective conditions necessary for the widespread dissemination of radioactive materials and increases the potential danger of such materials being used to develop radiological weapons.
There is broad international agreement on the question of the need to prevent the possible emergence of radiological weapons. The joint USSR-United States negotiations on major elements of a treaty prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of radiological weapons have now been successfully completed and the agreed proposals on this question have been submitted to the Committee on Disarmament for consideration.
2. Technical means of inflicting radiation injury based on the use of charged or neutral particles to affect biological targets
The danger with regard to the development of technical means of inflicting radiation injury based on the use of charged or neutral particles lies in the existence of the possibility of in principle using bundles of charged or neutral particles (electrons, protons, neutral atoms, etc.) to cause injury to biological target, and in the existence -- even now-- of the scientific and technological basis for the possible future development of sources of such particles that could be used for these purposes. It has been established with a considerable degree of certainty that the way in which the particles that can be used for such purposes cause injury is in many respects similar to the way in which the radiation from a nuclear explosion causes injury.
Sufficiently powerful bundles of charged or neutral particles can now be produced in, for example, the accelerators which are being widely used both for research on high-energy physics and the atomic nucleus and of work in other fields of science and technology, including agriculture and medicine. Several countries are already operating or installing proton accelerators in which the energy of the accelerated particles attains hundreds of millions of electron volts, high-current accelerators of the meson facility type and high -current continuous or pulsed electron accelerators. Several countries are carrying out intensive work on the development of fundamentally new methods of accelerating charged particles, and, taken together with the success achieved with regard to the development of superconducting materials, this opens up real possibilities of reducing the size and weight of accelerator systems and the sources of energy used to operate them and, in theory, paves the way in the foreseeable future for the development of powerful accelerator devices-- whose weight and dimensions could permit their use as weapons. Direct confirmation of the possibility of this happening is provided by the programme of work being carried out in the United States with a view to developing weapons using bundles of accelerated charged or neutral particles, as may be seen from published accounts of hearings in the Untied States Congress and other material that has appeared in the United States press.
3. Infrasonic means using acoustic radiation to affect biological targets
Weapons based on the utilization of the radiation of acoustic generators in the infrasonic range may become one of the possible new types of weapons of mass destruction. Data to be found in scientific literature convincingly demonstrate the existence of a wide spectrum of damaging effects of infrasonic oscillations on the human organism and other biological targets. The mechanism of such effects can be of the most widely varying kind -- mechanical, biological or neurochemical. Evidence of the danger of the damaging effects of such oscillations on human beings is, in particular, offered by the fact that many countries have already introduced health regulations in respect of maximum admissible acoustic effects. Particular concern is caused by available data concerning the harmful effects of low-power infrasonic oscillations on biocurrents of the brain and the nervous system as a whole and, thereby, on the psychic condition and intellect of human beings. In assessing the potential danger of the utilization of infrasound as a weapon of mass destruction, great importance attaches to its basic physical property --that of practically unimpeded propagation over large distances without noticeable attenuation. The development of powerful engines in connexion with advances in rocket technology, supersonic aircraft and in other areas of technology offers a technical basis for creation of powerful long-range installations with characteristics which may make such installations suitable for use as infrasonic weapons.(Editor's note. This is a strikingly similar description of the Russian Woodpecker radio signal broadcast over the United States in 1976.(See CAHRA website under Timeline 1976).
4. Means using electromagnetic radiation to affect biological targets
As a result of research into the effects of electromagnetic radiation on biological targets, the existence of harmful effects of radio-frequency radiations within a wide range of frequencies on such vitally important organs of the human as the heart, the brain and the central nervous system may now be regarded as a firmly established fact. Assessments quoted in international literature of the potential danger of the development of a new weapons of mass destruction are based on the results of research into the so-called "non-thermal" effects of electromagnetic radiation on biological targets. These effects may take the form of damage to or disruption of the functioning of the internal organs and systems of the human organism or of changes in its functioning.
As regards the possibility of devising technical means of generating electromagnetic radiation, many countries already have a highly developed technical base in the field of radio engineering and radio electronics. Powerful high-frequency generators, radar devices and other radio engineering installations serving various purposes have been developed and brought into use. The development of these means reflects a common trend in that efforts are being made to improve their characteristics, increase their efficiency and reduce their dimensions. Data available in the scientific literature show that the peak capacity of electromagnetic radiation generators has increased almost a hundredfold during the past four years alone. It is expected that, in the next five or six years, means capable of the directional transmission of electromagnetic radiation density in excess of known safety standards will be attainable in areas measuring dozens of square kilometres.
It is therefore to be expected that, taking into account further achievements in science and technology, it may be possible in time to devise means of generating powerful electromagnetic oscillations whose parameters could make those means suitable for use as a new type of weapon of mass destruction.
During the course of the discussion in the Committee on Disarmament of the question of the prohibition of new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction, Soviet experts as well as experts from a number of other countries adduced concrete scientific data and facts which convincingly demonstrate that, in view of the present level of science and technology in certain areas, it is scientifically justified to speak of the possibility of developing corresponding new types of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular those listed in the annex to the expanded draft agreement. It is practically no longer possible at the present time to dispute the fact that the possibility of developing new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction -- the consequences of whose emergence are as yet difficult to foresee -- exists, and that the problem of the comprehensive prohibition of the development, manufacture and stockpiling of new types and systems of such weapons is therefore a pressing one.
1980 Red Cross
The history of electromagnetic weapons can be also be found in international documents such as the International Committee of the Red Cross Report. Review Conference of the 1980 Convention page 158 entitled Future Weapons.
"The Conference of Government Experts that met in Lucerne and Lugano in 1974 and 1976, and whose findings served as a basis for the United Nations conference that adopted the 1980 convention, discussed a number of futuristic weapons. these included laser weapons, microwave, infrasound, and light-flash devices, environmental warfare and electronic warfare. The experts recognized that at that time it was too early to consider specific restrictions on devices that were only at the research stage. However, the majority stress the importance of keeping a close watch on developments in order to introduce specific prohibitions or limitations that might be necessary before the weapon in question became widely accepted. ...as regards the futuristic weapons discussed a the Lucerne/Lugano Conference, developments in laser technology have raised the possibility of one disturbing application, namely, the use of lasers as anti-personnel weapons to damage eyesight. This matter is referred to above under the heading "Blinding weapons". There has also been further research into other new technologies, in particular directed energy weapons such as high-power microwave and infrasound devices. ...In particular, it is important to ensure that new weapons do not have indiscriminate effects and that they do not contravene the rule prohibiting the use of weapons of a nature to cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury to combatants."
SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (1978). Anti-personnel Weapons. Crane, Russak & Company, New York.
Chapter 8. Electric, acoustic and electromagnetic-wave weapons
p.203. "It has also been suggested that at very low frequencies, resonances may be set up at other sites in the body, such as the heart, with various physiological effects, including possibly death, as a result. It appears that these phenomena have been investigated with a view to possible military applications."
1986, January 21. Press Conference on Gorbachev's Nuclear Arms Elimination Proposals. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. Tass for abroad. Part1 The USSR; A. International Affairs; 1.General and Western Affairs;SU/8162/A1/1. Lexis-Nexis.
Editor's comment. The speaker who is answering is not identified in this article. "[Answer] Weapons based on new physical principles would include, amongst others, means in which physical principles which have not been used hitherto are used to strike at personnel, military equipment and objectives. Amongst weapons of this kind one might include beam, radio-wave, infrasonic geophysical and genetic weapons. In their strike characteristics these types of weapons might be no less dangerous than mass strike weapons. The Soviet Union considers it necessary to establish a ban on the development of arms of this kind. The Soviet union has not carried out, nor does it intend to carry out either tests of such arms, or -even less so - the deployment of them. It will seek to ensure that all other countries do not do so either."
Haarp, Weather Modification, and Earthquakes