The chemical warfare agent 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate (QNB, or agent BZ) is an anticholinergic drug that influences both the secondary and principal nervous systems. It is singularly one of the most intoxicating anticholinergic psychomimetics recognized, with simply minute amounts required to cause incapacitation. It is categorized as a hallucinogenic chemical warfare agent and is typically distributed as an aerosol, and the principal path of ingestion is through the respiratory system. Absorption additionally occurs through the skin or gastrointestinal tract and physically causes increased heart rates, blurred vision, dry skin and mouth and flushing of the skin. This powerful agent is odourless, and it’s scheme is related to other anticholinergic drugs such as Atropine, although it has a considerably longer period of activity – clinical effects are not observed up to the time of a period of around 30 minutes to 24 hours. During the first 3-4 hours there is confusion and muscle spasms, followed by four to eight hours of stupor. Following around 12 hours the real effects of Agent BZ start to be effective with severe panoramic visual and auditory hallucinations.
In 1993, the British Ministry of Defence issued an intelligence narrative which suspected Iraq of having amassed sizeable quantities of a glycolate anticholinergic incapacitating agent identified as Agent 15 or Agent Buzz. Agent 15 is an supposed Iraqi disabling agent that is probable to be chemically either indistinguishable to Agent Buzz or closely associated to it. Agent Buzz was reputedly hoarded in great amounts preceding and during the Gulf War. The blend of anticholinergic and Central Nervous System effects benefits in the examination of sufferers exposed to these agents. However, contrary to what the British MoD stated a later CIA report discounts this assertion and concluded that ‘Iraq never went beyond research with Agent 15’.
Furthermore, in 1998, there were accusations that elements of the Yugoslav People’s Military force which utilised incapacitating agents imposingly escaping Bosnian exiles in the course of the Srebrenica annihilation in 1995, which resulted in hallucinations and irrational behaviour. Concrete proof of BZ’s use in Bosnia and Herzegovina is, however, unsubstantiated.
Agent Buzz transmission methods comprise the M43 cluster bomb with 4.5kg bomblets, and the 23kg M16, which parachutes down sprinkling 42 small BZ generators. In spite of the fact that sizeable amounts of BZ were manufactured, it was at no time used in the active theatre of war. Military leaders were anxious that its effects could not be depended upon and were somewhat unpredictable. A hallucinating serviceman cannot execute a direct order to surrender, and a theatre consisting of many soldiers firing at hallucinatory entities would naturally be a demanding one to oversee.
Agent BZ in itself is the complete example of a field in which certainty slides through your fingers. It is impossible to detect, and if you are effected by it, you are incapable of understanding what is happening to you. After the event, if you are fortunate enough to realise what has transpired, you will not be in a situation to identify what drug has been used as you would also be unable to prove its deployment.