Nanotechnology: panacea or threat to humanity?
Material posted: -Publication date: 21-11-2010

According to some observers, at the recent summit Russia – NATO in Lisbon between Moscow and the West reached a new level of strategic partnership, the climax of which was the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who suggested the NATO to create a missile defense system in which Russia will cover Europe from possible missile threats in exchange for a similar commitment from the West. If successful, this project could be the first example of real integration of military capabilities of two previously hostile parties.

Whether the Russian initiative is really to bring together Russia and NATO will become clear in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile in the world the growing threat of a new arms race related to the achievements of science and technology, in particular, in the field of nanotechnology.

In a number of NATO countries at the expert level are being actively discussed issues related to the potential negative impact on the state of the national and international security from the rapidly developing nanotechnology. According to experts, a number of countries and private companies in recent years actively investing in research in the field of nanotechnology, leading to the intensification of the processes of development of scientific and technical activity in this area.

In the US, the financing of research on this subject through the state budget from 1997 to 2004 has increased six times and amounted in 2005 to almost $ 1 billion through the National nanotechnology initiative (NNI), making the research in this area is one of the best-funded in the American scientific programme, exceeding even the funds allocated for the program "human Genome".

Japan is also investing approximately $ 1 billion in research in this area. Developing countries (India, China, South Africa, Brazil) have also joined the race of nanotechnology. Meanwhile, the level of work and the national audit office for research conducted Russia is not yet among the countries most actively developing nanotechnologies.

According to experts of the British Royal scientific society, in the coming years, advances in nanotechnology will affect most areas of human activity, but in 10-15 years will bring dramatic changes in medicine, energy policy and defense. According to some estimates, the explosive growth of nanotechnology is projected in the coming decades. It will be associated with large-scale financial flows from the private sector.

Considering real and potential possibilities of the explosive development of nanotechnology, their deep impact on all the important spheres of society, including the sphere of national security, NATO experts propose to pay special attention to the consequences of the spread of such technologies.

Among the potential negative effects of nanotechnology development that are not related to national security, experts identify a number of threats.

So, the components of the nanotechnology industries potentially hazardous to the environment, and their impact on man and his environment are not fully understood. I believe that such components will be fundamentally new pollutants, against which modern industry and science will not be ready. In addition, fundamentally new chemical and physical properties of these components will allow them to freely penetrate through the existing treatment system, including biological, that lead to the explosive growth in the number of allergic reactions and related diseases.

Important are also the problems associated with the miniaturization of nanotechnology products and risers in this regard, the issue of the protection of private life: the emergence of micromachines spy gives you unlimited ability to collect any confidential and compromising information.

In addition, different degrees of availability of nanotechnology applications in medicine and other socially relevant areas will lead to the emergence of the new boundaries of mankind according to the degree of use of nanotechnologies, which will exacerbate the already huge gap between rich and poor.

These problems have led to the emergence of several social movements and organizations concerned about the widespread introduction of nanotechnology and calling for the establishment of international control over their development and use. For example, the "Greenpeace" generally calls to ban nanotechnology.

Currently, the US remains the clear leader in the use of nanotechnology in the military sphere. According to experts, interest in this area the us military is actively growing with the 80-ies of XX century. In recent years, up to 30% in funding for the national nanotechnology initiative will be spent on projects of the Pentagon. In 2005, expenditure by the Ministry of defense on research in nanotechnologies totaled about $ 280 million.

The UK Ministry of defence also participates in works on research of nanotechnology, investing here approximately 1.5 million pounds per year. Significant difference research in the field of nanotechnology in the UK from similar research in the USA is that in the United Kingdom this area is considered to be corporate and the state is not seeking to increase their own investments here.

The EU in 2004-2006 has approved a budget of 65 million euros for research in the field of military applications of nanotechnology.

However, a number of well-known experts emphasize that the actual results from the implementation of nanotechnology in the area of national security should be expected no earlier than 5-20 years. Today, such studies are in the active phases of research projects, which will soon be transferred to the stage of development.

So, in 2002, the Massachusetts Institute of technology (USA) was created by the Institute of military nanotechnology (Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology) with a five-year financial plan of $ 50 million from the US army. The focus of the research focuses on increasing the survivability of the soldier on the battlefield.

Also suggest that nanotechnology will lead to changes not only in the field of traditional weapons, but also will accelerate the creation of nuclear weapons of the next generation, with enhanced reliability and efficiency in a much smaller package.

Experts point out that nanotechnology is potentially able to significantly influence all aspects of development of perspective samples of arms and military equipment, which will lead to significant changes in military science.

Special attention is paid to the possibilities of using nanotechnology in the creation of advanced chemical and bacteriological warfare, as the products of nanotechnology will allow to create fundamentally new means of delivery of active agents. Such funds will be more manageable and efficient election.

According to experts of NATO, which exists today in military and political circles related to the issue of nanotechnology, its impact on military strategy and the system of international treaties in the field of military security in many respects does not meet the potential threat posed by nanotechnology.

However, in 1995 the number of senior American generals have stated that nanotechnology has much more potential to change the balance of power than even existing nuclear weapons. Leadership in the field of nanotechnology will allow much more efficient use of the principles and methods of modern network-centric warfare.

The experts note that the United States in the coming years will remain at the forefront of research in nanotechnology, but a number of countries will literally go after them, trailing the leader by only one to three years.

Taking into account possible developments in the field of military strategy, experts point out that in the future will remain the priority of preventive actions to neutralize potential enemies in order to prevent them from using the asymmetrical advantages of nanotechnology. In this regard, some experts even claim that with the development of nanotechnology, the current concept of strategic nuclear deterrence would lose its value.

In such circumstances, NATO experts propose today to begin international consultations on the formation of legal framework in the field of monitoring the development of nanotechnologies and their application in the field of defense and security.

I believe that such a system of international control on their principles will differ from the existing system of control over non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, will be built using nanotechnology to create a network of instrumentation that tracks the development of the nanotechnology industry.


Tags: Russia , USA , security , threat