US scientists and doctors increasingly suspect unconventional microwave weapons caused over three dozen American diplomats and their families to fall sick in recent months in Cuba and China, according to a report by US media.
Douglas Smith, the director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said microwave weapons are now considered a main suspect, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Smith told the Times that a medical team that examined the diplomats is increasingly sure they suffered brain injury.
"Everybody was relatively skeptical at first," he was quoted as saying, "and everyone now agrees there's something there."
The victims reported hearing intense high-pitched sounds in their hotel rooms or homes followed by symptoms that included nausea, severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue, hearing loss and sleep problems.
The Times said there were many unanswered questions as to who might have carried out the attacks and why. Neither the State Department nor the FBI has publicly pointed to microwave weapons as the culprit.
Cuba has firmly denied any role in, or knowledge of, the incidents.
The US in September 2017 recalled more than half of its staff from the US embassy in Havana and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington after holding Cuba responsible for either carrying out the attacks or failing to protect American officials.
In June 2018, the State Department announced it had sent home US government personnel from China after they reported eerily similar incidents.
In the 1960s, the United States and the former Soviet Union began to explore microwaves' potential use in unconventional weapons, according to the Times.
The newspaper said the Pentagon warned in 1976 that Soviet research on microwaves showed potential for "disrupting the behavior patterns of military or diplomatic personnel."
The Times said it is not known if Washington deploys such weapons but reported that the US military has also researched weapons applications of microwaves, with the US Air Force winning a patent on an invention shown to beam comprehensible speech into an adversary's head.
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