Porton Down (02:30)
Porton Down is a top-secret military research base in the United Kingdom. It has been in operation for 100 years conducting research on biological and chemical weapons.
Defense Science Laboratory (03:46)
Dr. Michael Mosley received access to the controversial military base Porton Down. The site has evolved along with the threats facing the United Kingdom. Chief Executive Johnathan Lyle says the site's 3,000 scientists are looking to give the military every possible advantage.
First Chemical Weapons (04:32)
Porton Down was established after chlorine gas was used against British troops during World War I. Scientists worked to understand, combat, and develop chemical weapons; weapons were tested onsite.
Destroying Chemical Weapons (06:09)
Porton Down is the only facility in the United Kingdom that can destroy recovered chemical weapons. Before destruction, the weapons are x-rayed and identified. Mustard gas is one of the most common chemical weapons.
Biological Weapons (06:19)
The Geneva Protocol banned using chemical weapons in warfare, but not creating them. Britain started developing chemical weapons in response to the fear that Nazis already had them. Biological weapons can replicate and spread on their own.
Sarin Gas (05:53)
After World War II, the Allies discovered the Nazis developed the chemical nerve agent. It is extremely toxic and kills quickly. During the Cold War, Porton Down tested the agent on human volunteers.
Cold War Development (04:14)
Porton Down increased chemical weapons production during the Cold War. Scientists developed Venomous Agent X, a nerve agent significantly strong than sarin gas. It is still produced for research purposes.
Defense Development (02:24)
Porton Down stopped production of chemical and biological weapons in the 1950s, when nuclear weapons started being developed. The departments focused on defensive solutions in case the Soviet Union launched a chemical or biological attack.
Chemical Weapons Ban (03:12)
After Saddam Hussein used sarin gas in Iraq, the U.N. banned the production, stockpile, and use of all chemical weapons. An organization was created to inspect all sites where chemical agents are present.
Chemical Weapon Attacks (03:09)
The use of chemical weapons has increased since World War I. The worst attack was in Syria in 2013. Samples from Syria were sent to Porton Down for identification; the chemical was sarin.
Addressing New Threats (06:06)
Porton Down is adapting and using spider webs to test how long Ebola remains in the air. Scientists search for a better understanding to combat the virus more effectively.
Credits: Secret Science: Chemical and Biological Weapons (00:42)
Credits: Secret Science: Chemical and Biological Weapons
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