Nuclear Weapons and Mass Destruction as a Global Threat


Since the human race started rolling, the element of technology has been created and considerably advanced. Technology, the art of scientific innovations and enhancements for the benefit of the masses, and its continuing improvements have significantly upgraded people’s lives. But something excessively thought of as good can also turn out to be harmful sometimes. And just as night follows the day, some major drawbacks shadow the plus points of this technology, the critical issue being, that of its use, rather than misuse. Too many people, either intentionally or unintentionally, misuse technology by letting it rule over them, using it to dominate over others, and destructing and meddling into Nature’s affairs.

I personally think that it’s not the technology to be praised for good and blamed for bad, but mainly the people who use it, or misuse it for that matter. The point of focus here, basically, is its misuse. Hence, I intend to put light on the fact how it makes people make use of it for the wrong reasons. At the same time as technology finely controls people, it also gives them a sense of control and dominance that they do not possess as a matter of fact. From availing oneself with simple ingenious devices or gadgets to manipulating it to hold weapons against a country in order to threaten it or invade it, technology does change people.

Due to the competitive nature of humans, while at the same technology, winning them over in their lives, makes this competition-technology bond easily move hand in hand, but then makes this global world a serious victim. The feeling of superiority that comes from having some technology ranges from a moderate set of video games for kids to a far-reaching extent of holding weapons of mass destruction. In the current world, a number of countries compete in a quest for military superiority. Every country is after developing better and more superior weapons with the intention of feeling confident when dealing with other countries on a national scale. From time to time, this overconfidence gets out of hand when a country opposes another and gets to grips with the problem by bombarding the country.

The Long History

The use of weapons of mass destruction is trailed back to the Middle Ages, in 430 B.C. when the theory of Atoms and Void was postulated. Since then, the discovery of electrical discharge through rarefied gas, natural radioactivity found in uranium ore, isotopes, the concept of half-life, the theory of relativity, the nuclear theory, the quantum theory, atomic transmutation, wave mechanics, the remarkable nuclear fission, and the fission chain reaction, uranium weapons, atomic bombs followed by nuclear bombs, ballistic missiles, and finally the weapons of mass destruction have made their way, undoubtedly posing a threat to this world. (Rebehn, n.p., 2003)

During the whole time when each of these was taking shape, whenever the rules of warfare were ignored, the target shifted from the rival’s warriors to its people. Once scientific progress and technological advancement granted access, the armament of choice against a noncombatant enemy turned into biological, then chemical, nuclear, and radiological.

Nature of the Hazard

Weapons of mass destruction may consist of arms engaged without nuclear energy, minor explosive devices, cyber assaults, or nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) warfare means. The existence of NBC agents might not straightaway be evident, causing it hard to ascertain when and where they have been discharged, who has been out in open, and what threat exists for local citizens at the national level and to the whole world at the global level. Such weapons also range from an unvoiced hazard of a poison gas attack to a catastrophic nuclear explosion. Those who would dispatch such assaults know hundreds and thousands could possibly die, obviously, but their basic purpose would be to cause terror and dread in the hearts and minds of millions of people. An overview of the general threat of biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological weapons is as under.

Biological weapons or more rightly termed as biological agents are expected to kill, severely harm, or debilitate people through physical effects. They can range from depositing lethal substances in the country’s food stock to discharging an infectious virus as a spray over some large city. When people are subject to a cause of disease, for example, smallpox or anthrax, they possibly may not realize that they have been endangered, and those who are diseased, or get diseased later on, may not feel ailing for some time. This break between exposure and inception of the disease, the maturation period, is typical of virulent diseases. The maturation episode may range from quite a few hours to a number of weeks, depending on the exposure and the cause of the disease. (Penobscot County Emergency Operations Plan, n.d.)

Unlike severe cases involving explosives or some lethal chemicals, the preliminary finding and reaction to a biological assault on private citizens are probable to be made through communities for providing treatment to patients and maintaining public health. However, such communities cannot identify bioterrorism instantaneously, for the fact that symptoms every so often reflects ones exposed by a person with the usual cold or influenza.

In 1969, former President Nixon proscribed the manufacture and use of biological weapons, putting an end to U.S. bio-warfare agenda. Signed in 1972, the Biological Weapons Convention outlawed the production, accumulation, and use of biological weapons. So far, the measures taken against it include the bioterrorism detection system initiated and tested by the United States in 2002. Furthermore in 2004, President Bush declared to launch an effective research and production program, namely ‘Project Bio-shield’ against the bioterrorism agents.

Over to chemical agents, which are also intended to slay, serious harm, or debilitate people as a result of physiological effects, work at a much faster rate as compared to biological agents. Through aerosol generators and sprayers, these menacing chemicals can be introduced into the targeted place. Symptoms can range from blistering or swelling of the eyes and skin, lung disease, coughing, lightheadedness, faintness, motion sickness, seizures, headache, some serious eye problems, etc. (Porteus, n.p., 2006)

In order to relieve the suffering and pain, several approaches include counter-toxin medicines, antibiotics, sedatives, bandages for skin burns, cleansing of skin and eyes and cleaning the skin with peroxide, etc. (Porteus, n.p., 2006)

The Geneva Protocol of 1925 banned the use of chemical hazardous gases or other chemical agents as a means of warfare. However, it did not disallow the production and accumulation of these weapons. Later on, in 1993, the Chemical Weapons Convention was signed by more than 140 countries, which prohibited the manufacture and ownership of chemical weapons.

Nuclear agents, in addition to causing a serious menace to people through physical effects, also result from psychological effects. A nuclear explosion is pretty obvious to ascertain, while the effects have very high magnitudes. These weapons are highly expected to be supplied in the form of airborne missiles shells released by air force bombers. Then there is this threat from terrorists who could also make accidents happen by simply carrying nuclear warheads into a city and could be exploded either by a suicide bomber or by remote control. (Porteus, n.p., 2006)

Contingent on the dosage of nuclear radiation received, if people don’t expire from the early effect of the explosion, the sufferers may undergo vomiting, exhaustion, weariness, headache, skin diseases, hair loss, and recurrent bleeding, and cancer or birth deficiencies in the long-run. In order to apply treatment, sufferers ought to bathe themselves off properly with bleach or simply by using soap and water. Treatment may also possibly be applied by pumping the stomach or using such medicines that would lessen the absorption of radiation in the insides of the body.

The amount of nuclear weapons around the world has been greatly lessened as a result of arms control negotiations. One such negotiation was in 1991, introduced by the U.S. and named the U.S. Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. Then in 2000, an unequivocal commitment was made by five dominant nuclear-weapon states for nuclear arms reduction under effectual international jurisdictions.

Radiological Weapons are mostly thought of as probable choices for terrorists. They release radioactive material, which infects tools and equipment, or land for example. This can be really very injurious, and even deadly in some cases. In a conventional detonation, containing radioactive substances may not make it certain whether radioactive material was involved or not, contingent upon the kind of explosive mechanism used. It is not very easy to determine the presence of a radioactive hazard, lest the defendants have the proper detection devices and have been competent to make use of it in a suitable manner.

From slight effects such as skin flushing, motion sickness, vomiting, queasiness, unsettled stomach, weight loss, and flu-like symptoms, these symptoms can also rise to an extreme extent of causing cancer and ultimately death. In treatment, like in the case of nuclear agents, the sufferers should bathe themselves off with soap and water. Here the treatment basically depends upon the amount of radiation received.

All these weapons of mass destruction, in the hands of a terrorist present a severe hazard to international concord and security in today’s world. The government of the United States, along with its foreign allies is resolute to work together to toughen up their national and shared fortifications critical of this dominant threat.

Strategic Approach since 9/11

Even seven years after the dreadful event of 9/11, the United States considers itself to be threatened by the same terrorists who posed attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – terrorists who still assure them that they will bring nuclear and biological weapons into play against them, should they get hold of some means to acquire them. Hence, it has been since 9/11 that the U.S. government has assumed a tactical and inclusive attitude towards fighting against weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and other twenty-first-century threats.

For instance, the U.S. president in 2002, proclaimed the ‘National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction’, which brought about a thorough approach for averting the planet’s most threatening weapons from being accessed by terrorists. Strong Anti-proliferation course of action and Capabilities, Reinforced Nonproliferation Measures, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Aftermath Administration Preparedness were the three pillars against the terrorists’ threats, established by the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. (Bush, 2002) In order to put together these pillars efficiently, the strategy also demanded reinforced intelligence competence, a focused line of attack against proliferates, research and development, and superior international collaboration.

Later in 2005, the ‘National Strategy for Maritime Security’ was proclaimed by the President which drew around a strategic approach to defending the maritime field from the risk of both terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Counteracting Terrorist Attacks and Hostile Acts, Defending Important Groundworks and Population Centers of Maritime, Curtailing Destruction and Accelerating recovery, and safeguarding the Maritime sphere were the four objectives addressed by this strategy.

A significant association with the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction is specifically recognized by the National Strategy for Maritime Security, which draws around a vision for integrating maritime security programs and schemes initiated by the government into an inclusive approach including all entities such as state, federal, local, public and private sectors. Evenly significant, the strategy also outlines the measures for collaborating and harmonizing their efforts with their international allies. (Lehrman, n.p., 2006)

In 2006, again, a new ‘National Strategy to Combat Terrorism’ was signed by the President, which identifies the vital significance of fighting against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction by incorporating nonproliferation, anti-proliferation, and anti-terrorism elements to challenge and conquer the bond of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. This strategy focused on several critical issues and addressed them in a comprehensive approach.

All these three significant strategies for fighting against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction highlight the inclusive approach the U.S. President has drawn around to make sure that the government employs all tools of national power. It is also with the intention that the United States operates diligently with foreign allies to defend the most threatened maritime area from the world’s critical national and international threats.

Focusing Strategies towards Action

Devising all these strategies has not been enough for the United States, which is now on the road to taking a number of upbeat and practical steps to execute these strategies. It is on its way to establishing proactive programs and associations to protect the whole global environment against the hazard of weapons of mass destruction terrorism.

There are programs initiated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection through the Container Security Initiative for protection, especially for detecting and inspecting supplies that come from abroad. For strengthening these practices, another program, namely ‘Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism’ (C-TPAT), has also been established. Furthermore, the effective establishment of the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, by the National Security Presidential Directive, in 2005, developed a valuable global nuclear and radiological detection design to defend the state. This effort presents an outstanding opportunity to strengthen their collaborations with their allies abroad. (Council on Foreign Relations, n.p., 2001)

Another program, namely ‘Proliferation Security Initiative’ was also introduced by the President to reinforce their strengths and embargo consignments or shipments by land, sea, or airborne cargoes of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. (PSI, n.p., n.d.) The State Department has intimately worked with a number of federal organizations to advance the Proliferation Security Initiative. Furthermore, active support has been extended by the Department of Defense, which has performed a leadership role in holding and coordinating the exercises of the Proliferation Security Initiative Operational Experts Group. It has also worked to develop novel ideas for operation for prohibiting weapons of mass destruction.

The financial administration has also performed a very important role in defending the supply chains from weapons of mass destruction and terrorist threats. The Department of State has been working in strong collaboration with the Treasury Department to discourage, discover, and disrupt the financial movements that bolster trade in weapons of mass destruction. The purpose is also to work against such trade which can assist and encourage terrorist and planned crime pursuits. The United States, based on the objectives of these strategies, has operated with extensive international allies to deter the flow of assets of individuals involved in illegal activities and draw attention to the threats they cause to the integrity of their global financial system which is highly relied upon by their international supply chain.

Trimming down the Terrorism threat

A number of operational and technical challenges are posed when it is about protecting the United States and its international allies from a furtive biological or nuclear assault by terrorists. Therefore the United States has to adopt a strategic attitude, able enough to minimize this threat to its absolute bottom, for the fact that they cannot meet the expense of failing in this very mission.

Here, the concept of ‘layered defense-in-depth’ evolves, which is a strategic notion exercised in a varied range of safety-related fields, from rocket-propelled weapons security to cyber-security. (Lehrman, n.p., 2006) Henceforth the United States considers that it should develop this layered defense-in-depth with its international allies, in order to lessen their collective threat from weapons of mass destruction terrorism.

Especially pertinent to fighting against terrorism, the core basis of this layered defense-in-depth is that not anyone particular layer, or capability for that matter, is good enough to effectively provide defense against an unwavering and adaptable terrorist opponent. But on the other hand, if multiple layers of defenses are used to interfere in the terrorists’ or its facilitators’ activities and plans for an attack, it will make it difficult for them to overpower such defenses, and ultimately be discouraged, detected, and even to collapse during the course.

An effectual layered defense-in-depth should not only concentrate on averting terrorists from tagging along with those driving forces which would make the weapons of mass destruction, and other relating illegal powers available to them, but in addition to that, it should take in force defensive steps to spot and disrupt the in effect connections between terrorists and those that may possibly assist a nuclear or weapons of mass destruction attack.

In view of the fact that terrorists’ conspiracies and intrigues have time and again included manifold jurisdictions, with the terrorist assailants, armament engineers, transport negotiators, financial backers, and other assisting agents functioning in different countries at a global level, the United States focuses on the fact to work with its international allies in order to set out, implement and carry on with the layered defense-in-depth against the weapons of mass destruction terrorism.

The Global Program for fighting against Nuclear Terrorism

In 2006, President Bush and President Putin, in order to challenge the mounting threat of nuclear terrorism, proclaimed together with the ‘Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism’, a novel attempt whose objective to integrate a budding network of associate partners on the same wavelength to fast track the development of alliance capacity to fight this threat in an unwavering and orderly fashion. The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism carries a strategic and inclusive approach to fighting against all phases of the nuclear terrorism encounter, from reinforcing substantial fortification against nuclear weapons to perceiving the existence of, and disrupting, its progress through or to terrorists, to important management in the aftershock of a nuclear assault. (Office of the Press Secretary, 2006)

A Developing Global Finest Practice

As the U.S. secretary, Dr. Rice has enunciated, the crucial threats that are faced gradually do not only result from nation-states, but in addition to that from the practices of non-state actors, either terrorists or other criminal groups that are involved in weakening, global illegal activities. The terrorist rivals not only pursue to kill innocent and blameless private citizens, but they also tend to aim at the substructures and economic infrastructure with the objective of decreasing down the nation’s capacity.

Unceasingly reinforced capabilities, for encountering and overpowering terrorists and non-state actors duly require new and adaptive public-private alliances. These alliances are ought to be capable of uncovering criminal or terrorist activity at an earlier time of its expansion. Such alliances or partnerships must also be such as to facilitate governments to fast-track the suitable implementation response. As many organizations have worked regarding this, and shown, that many such partnerships are in their right place and have functioned well by now.

The United States is expected to reinforce and spread out these partnerships in different directions for the very same purpose of discouraging, detecting, and taking definite and assertive measures against terrorists involved in the weapons of mass destruction trade. The individual firms that possess, run, maneuver, and protect ports and the delivery and logistics providers that accompany them in their operations acknowledge that elevating the systems of security throughout the global supply chain not only defends the national security of a particular nation, but in addition to that, on their part, it defends their discreet commercial reputations, improves their end result, and on a wide level upgrades both their economic securities.

In a very short period of time, these public-private alliances have turned out to be the finest practice at a global level. It pursues to aid both government and some certain business production, and private sector units are encouraged to take into account novel means through which such alliances can defend supply chain, or global supply chain at a wide scale, from current threats.

Using Promising Technologies & Reducing Terrorism Threats

It is not just the alliances or strategic transparency or immense security budgets that aid in reducing the weapons of mass destruction terrorism. Trimming down the very risk also calls for research and development of new technologies, the relevance and use of such technologies into established and seasoned systems, and further the integration of those systems into pioneering ideas and concepts of control and management, all of which operate mutually in a smooth way with the defensive capabilities of the any particular country’s trading associates across the world.

So here, the technical engineers, contractors, innovators, and suppliers need to be acclaimed and applauded for working so intensely to transmute security modernization in areas for example weapons of mass destruction detection systems, risk management, GPS location technology, and similar other dozens of technologies, and wireless grid into all-inclusive systems that governments and other agencies can use frequently to upgrade their situational consciousness and understanding, reduce risks including security risks and those from nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction terrorism, and to keep the local citizens protected against all sorts of enemies and terrorists that they might come across.

Still an immense Global Threat

Globalization, an important and dominant influence, has been a positive force that has left many nations better off due to the resulted enhanced financial factor, a considerable flow of information, technology, and notions, etc. But then, in many significant ways, it has also caused reasons for conflict and has granted powers to those who tend to misuse them, giving harm to the masses and Nature. The origin of weapons of mass destruction here traces its path back to the globalization of information and technology. Such globalization, of course, increasingly renders minor individuals, groups, and states, damaging capabilities which were formerly limited to the world’s superpowers. Managing such an intense threat will remain to be a challenge. (Wilson, pp.11, 2001)

Fast development in technology and proliferation – predominantly in connection with the information, administering, and communications technologies, networking, biotechnology, improved materials and production, and nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction – are foreseen to have a continuing and overpowering impact on the lives of people and how they think, live, work, organize, and fall into conflicts. This type of globalization in regards to technology, the combination and integration of a number of technological progressions, and unexpected usage of budding technologies, make it hard to foretell the technological future. As far as military technology is concerned, two different tendencies, namely, limited spending on global defense purposes, and altering global armaments organizations, will influence the nature of the upcoming conflict.

The complicated fusion of these factors with some other crucial trends like natural disasters, plagues, and mass migrations, etc. foreshadows an extremely vigorous, complex, and unsure global future.

A number of possible opponents think that they can rule out U.S. force decisions and counterbalance the U.S. established military dominance by holding weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. And then there are others who are encouraged by local threat assessments. In either case, the gravitational force to obtain weapons of mass destruction is very high, and regrettably, globalization sets up an environment more docile towards proliferation activities. All in all the global nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction pose a great threat, not only to the U.S. but to the whole global world, and this threat is expected to increase more and more.

The Bottom Lines

For the time being, ongoing global chaos and instability are anticipated to create requirements for encouraging involvement by the whole world that supports peace, in numerous intricate functioning environments, opposed to adversaries.

The intricate integrated mix of global social, economic, technological, political, and military forms in action during the upcoming 10-15 years tend to lay broad and extensive challenges for the world’s defense and information developments. These critical global issues of terrorism, nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and proliferation, are very much expected to be more complex to concentrate on and tackle on account of globalization.


Bush, George W. (2002), Statement by the President, News and policies, The White House. Web.

Council on Foreign Relations (2001), Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) Strategic Plan, Essential Documents. Web.

Lehrman, Thomas (2006), Preventing Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism in the Maritime Supply Chain, Remarks at Maritime Security Expo, New York, U.S. Department of State. Web.

Office of the Press Secretary (2006), Joint Statement Announcing the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, For Immediate Release, Embassy of the United States. Web.

Penobscot County Emergency Operations Plan (n.d.), Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Web.

Porteus, Liza (2006), Weapons of Mass Destruction Handbook, Fox News. Web.

PSI (n.d.) Proliferation Security Initiative, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. Web.

Rebehn, Michael (2003), The Long History of Weapons of Mass Destruction, openDemocracy Ltd. Web.

Wilson, Thomas R. (2001), Global Threats and Challenges through 2015, Statement for the Record, Senate Armed Services Committee. Web.