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 Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Introduction. Weapons that have a relatively large-scale impact on people, property, and/or infrastructure. WMD are.

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Presentation on theme: " Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Introduction. Weapons that have a relatively large-scale impact on people, property, and/or infrastructure. WMD are."— Presentation transcript:

1  Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Introduction

2 Weapons that have a relatively large-scale impact on people, property, and/or infrastructure. WMD are defined in US law (18 USC §2332a) as: (A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title (i.e. explosive device); (B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors; (C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title) (D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life. CBRN weapons: chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear

3 The Problem  “The probability of a terrorist organization using a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapon, or high-yield explosives, has increased significantly during the past decade.” – 2003 US National Strategy for Combating Terrorism  “Terrorists have declared their intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to inflict even more catastrophic attacks against the United States, our allies, partners, and other interests around the world. ” – 2006 US National Strategy for Combating Terrorism  “The prospect that a nuclear capable state may lose control of some of its weapons to terrorists is one of the greatest dangers the US and its allies face.” – Quadrennial Defense Review, February 6, 2006

4 The Threat High Low High Capabilities & Opportunities Intentions

5 The Environment During the Cold War  Bipolar international system  Monopoly of nukes & CBW by strong, powerful states  Terrorists did not cross threshold of mass destruction  Nuclear terrorism ruled out because of stringent security surrounding atomic material in US/USSR The Post-Cold War threat environment has changed  The Non-Proliferation Regime’s crisis of legitimacy & nuclear proliferation in South Asia, N Korea, the Middle East  Fears of CBRN proliferation post-Soviet collapse  Precedents set by Aum Shinriyko, LTTE and Chechen rebels  The 2001 anthrax attacks in US  Jihadi terrorist groups’ explicit interest in WMD to inflict mass casualties on their enemies  Major advances in biotechnology

6 Opportunities  Transfer by a sympathetic national government, perhaps using export control loopholes  Assistance from custodians of nuclear weapons (security guards)  Unauthorized assistance from corrupt, angry or disenchanted, scientists/officials  Seizure without insider help via armed raids  Coup d’etat and chaos in a nuclear-armed failing state  Technical information to build a nuclear weapon is widely available  With relatively little radioactive material obtained from a power plant or medical facility, terrorists could construct a “dirty bomb”

7 CBRN Weapons 4 Weapon Types 1. Chemical 2. Biological 3. Radiological 4. Nuclear  Effects produced by Chemical and Biological Weapons are usually delayed and spread over time.  Terrorists, in contrast, prefer spectacular, massive impact, instant worldwide publicity, shock & awe effect  Thus, nuclear or radiological may be more likely, but are significantly more difficult to design or acquire

8 Chemical Weapons use the toxic properties of chemical substances to cause physical or psychological harm to an enemy Many different kinds, including:  Choking and blood agents (like chlorine, phosgene, fentanyl gas) cause respiratory damage and asphyxiation  Blistering agents (like mustard gas and lewisite) cause painful burns requiring immediate medical attention  Nerve gases degrade the functioning of the nervous system, causing a loss of muscle control, respiratory failure, and eventually death Can be delivered through bombs, rockets, artillery shells, spray tanks, and missile warheads

9 al-Mubtakkar

10 - Relatively cost-effective weapons - Considered by many to be the most insidious type of weapons Strikes against the agricultural sector pose a serious threat Biological weapons intentionally disseminate agents of infectious diseases to harm or kill others. Key considerations include infectivity, virulence, toxicity, pathogenicity, the incubation period, transmissibility, lethality and stability. * Bacteria (like Anthrax, Brucellosis, Tularemia, Plague) * Viruses (Smallpox, Marburg, Yellow Fever) * Rickettsia (Typhus fever, Spotted fever) * Fungi (the molds that cause stem rust of wheat and rye) * Toxins (like Ricin, Botulinum and Saxitoxin) aka “midspectrum” * Infectious Pathogens: Emerging threats; SARS, Avian Influenza ‘Old’ threats: TB, HIV, Malaria

11 Disenchanted Scientists Corrupt Security Guards Export Control Loopholes Global Crime Networks Black Markets Weak State Governance Proliferation of Chemical and Biological Weapons

12 3) Radiological Weapons  A radiation emission device (RED) or a radiological dispersion device (RDD) or “dirty bomb” is a bomb to cause panic, terror and mass disruption.  Such a device, comprising radioactive material (such as plutonium 239, uranium 235, plutonium oxide and uranium oxide) dispersed by the detonation of conventional explosives, could spark terror and paralyze whole cities, even if its killing capacity were limited  Myriad sources could be used for this purpose  Medical/educational facilities, atomic waste storage reservations, commercial sites, etc.  Many lack concerted security  Especially medical facilities, educational institutions

13  Unique in their explosive energy, derived from nuclear fission: splitting the nuclear of an atom, usually of highly enriched uranium or plutonium, into two or more parts by bombarding it with neutrons, and causing a chain reaction  Destructive power up to 50 megatons  1,000 tons of TNT = 1 kiloton  WWII nukes = 15-22 kilotons  1,000 kilotons = 1 megaton  2 types: Gun-type and Implosion

14 Access to Nuclear Weapons  The transfer, theft and detonation of an intact nuclear weapon (INW) – “sum of all fears” scenario  The theft or purchase of fissile material to fabricate and detonate a crude nuke – an improvised nuclear device (IND)  Attacks against and sabotage of nuclear facilities, in particular nuclear power plants, causing the release of large amounts of radioactivity Illicit market for nuclear materials: the case of A.Q. Khan  In October 2003, US intelligence agents boarded a cargo ship en route from Malaysia to Libya via Dubai and found thousands of centrifuge parts for enriching uranium. The buyer was Libya’s Col. Gaddafi; the seller, Dr A. Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb  This interception uncovered the dark underside of globalization – a worldwide, black market in nuclear materials, designs and technologies that the IAEA chief, Mohammed El-Baradei, has called a “Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation”


16 Critical Infrastructure “Pre-positioned WMD?”  Nuclear power plants  Chemical storage facilities  Bio-technology labs  Dams, water protection infrastructure (Katrina)  Urban Transportation of Toxic Chemicals  Etc.  9/11 attacks used “pre-positioned” weapons

17 Conclusion  Potential exists for limited CBRN strikes  Can’t rule out attacks that local affiliates can execute on a (semi-) autonomous basis  Aim to elicit mass disruption rather than physical destruction per se  Weapon type determines possible availability and impact


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