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India adds world's hottest chili pepper to its anti-terrorism arsenal

India's newest biological weapon, the world's hottest chili pepper, or bhut jolokia, is 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, and just a touch on the tongue burns, as our correspondent found. India’s Army plans to use the chili in tear gas.

A farmer shows a 'Bhut jolokia', world's hottest chili pepper, plucked from his field in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, in this July 2007 file photo.

Manish Swarup/AP/File

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For about $10, Ravi Arora will sell you a pound of the Indian military's latest biological weapon in its anti-terrorism arsenal.

"No, no, no. We recommend not to try them," Mr. Arora says when asked how he suggests using them, speaking at his office in a massive wholesale spice, bean, coconut, and dried-fruit market in Navi Mumbai, Mumbai's sister city. "Before exporting these chilies we have also informed my clients not to taste them.... It is killing."

That potency is just why the Indian military said last week that it would use the bhut jolokia, or "ghost chili,” which holds the Guinness World Record for hottest spice, to make tear gas hand grenades in the fight against terrorism. The nontoxic weapon can be used to choke terrorists or force them out of their hideouts, defense officials explained.

A good bhut jolokia measures just over 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measure of hotness. (Regular Tabasco sauce, by comparison, sits between a mere 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville units; Habañero sauce registers at a little more than 7,000.)

Handle with gloves


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