The Continual Emerging Threat and Use of
Weapons of Mass Destruction By Terrorist
Organizations to the United States of America
The utilization of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by terrorist groups and states alike will continue to threaten the U.S. Homeland and its interests abroad. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) provided the following estimate of this emerging threat in its December 2000 analysis of global trends through the year 2015 (Cordesman, 2002). Strategic WMD threats, including nuclear missile threats in which (barring significant political or economic changes) Russia, China, most likely North Korea, probably Iran, and possibly Iraq have the capability to strike the United States, and the potential for unconventional delivery of WMD by both state or non-state actors also will grow (p. 3). The NIC report additionally goes on to discuss the accessibility and advancement of technology for WMD will increase, saying: Prospects will grow that more sophisticated weaponry, including weapons of mass destruction--indigenously produced or externally acquired--will get into the hands of state and non-state belligerents, some hostile to the United States. The likelihood will increase over this period that WMD will be used either against the United States or is forces, facilities, and interests overseas (p. 3). For these and other reasons, individuals in the security and law enforcement profession need to continue to maintain their focus on the capabilities and the potentiality of WMD use by a variety of interests. I use this paper as an opportunity to further educate myself on the use of WMD by terrorist organizations. I do this by giving an overview of the many types of threats that fall into the category of WMD, to include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. I then continue my education by looking at the countries involved with WMD. I'll conclude the paper with looking specifically at some of Iraq's capabilities and programs.
Chemical weapons pose significant threats to both the civilian populace and military organization. One of the biggest reason chemical weapons pose such a threat to both of these groups is the psychological effect caused by their use. Although chemical weapons are no more lethal then conventional weaponry, they cause great fear when even someone thinks of them being used. The most common example would be the exploitations of the media and the footage seen of the Kurds in Iraq when Saddam Hussein used blister and nerve agents. Not only were there dead civilians laying in the streets, but gruesome pictures of the effect that these agents have on the body, both to those killed and survivors. "Chemical weapons are weapons of terror and intimidation as well as a means of producing casualties and physical destruction" (Cordesman, 2002, p. 101). In 2003 the Department of Defense (DoD) stated that most forms of CW are employed in the liquid form, called droplets. Droplets make the substance more stable and easy for use in weaponry. The DoD also put chemical weapons into two categories, persistent and nonpersistent--persistent lasting for days, and nonpersistent only lasting from minutes to hours (Defenselink, 2003). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) put CWs into a few distinct categories, these being; nerve agents such as VX, blood agents like hydrogen cyanide, blister agents like sulfur mustards, and pulmonary agents like chlorine. The latter are the more commonly used and known, but there are also many more...especially the ones that fall into the commercial category, such as metals, pesticides, etc... (Kahn & Levitt, 2000). Most organizations wishing to use some type of WMD tend not to turn to chemicals as their primary weapon. There are many challenges facing someone that wants to effectively employing CWs. The DoD (Defenselink, 2003) lists a variety of issues concerning the factors that must be considered. These factors include; agent type,...
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