Aug. 7, 2017
A Short History of Biological Warfare: From Pre-History to the 21st Century
This short monograph reviews the history of biological warfare (BW) from prehistory to the present. It covers what we know about the practice of BW and briefly describes the programs that developed BW weapons based on the best available research.
July 18, 2016
The Soviet Biological Weapons Program and Its Legacy in Today’s Russia
In its first Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Case Study, the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction (CSWMD) at the National Defense University examined President Richard M. Nixon’s decision, on November 25, 1969, to terminate the U.S. offensive biological weapons program. This occasional paper seeks to explain why the Soviet government, at approximately the same time, decided to do essentially the opposite, namely, to establish a large biological warfare (BW) program that would be driven by newly discovered and powerful biotechnologies. By introducing the innovation of recombinant DNA technology—commonly referred to as genetic engineering—the Soviets were attempting to create bacterial and viral strains that were more useful for military purposes than were strains found in nature.
June 1, 2014
The Future of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Their Nature and Role in 2030
The longstanding efforts of the international community writ large to exclude weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from international competition and conflict could be undermined in 2030. The proliferation of these weapons is likely to be harder to prevent and thus potentially more prevalent. Nuclear weapons are likely to play a more significant role in the international security environment, and current constraints on the proliferation and use of chemical and biological weapons could diminish. There will be greater scope for WMD terrorism, though it is not possible to predict the frequency or severity of any future employment of WMD. New forms of WMD—beyond chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons—are unlikely to emerge by 2030, but cyber weapons will probably be capable of inflicting such widespread disruption that the United States may become as reliant on the threat to impose unacceptable costs to deter large-scale cyber attack as it currently is to deter the use of WMD. The definition of weapons of mass destruction will remain uncertain and controversial in 2030, and its value as an analytic category will be increasingly open to question.
June 1, 2012
Proliferation Security Initiative: Origins and Evolution
On December 9, 2002, the United States and Spanish navies cooperated to interdict a North Korean vessel, the So San, in the Arabian Sea.1 The operation initially appeared to be an unqualified success, a textbook example of interdiction to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), related materials, or delivery systems. According to press reports, the United States began tracking the vessel when it first left North Korea, believing that it was carrying a cargo related to Scud ballistic missiles. The So San flew no flag, making it a stateless vessel under international law, subject to interception and boarding by warships on the high seas.2 The United States asked the Spanish navy to stop and search the So San when the ship reached the patrol area of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, then under Spanish command. The mission of CTF 150 was “to promote maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities” in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean.3 Thus, the United States proposed—and Spain agreed—to use a tool developed to combat global terrorism in a counterproliferation mission.
Jan. 1, 2012
Defining "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (Revised)
This revised Occasional Paper explores the issue of defining weapons of mass destruction with a focus on summarizing how the term has been used in disarmament negotiations, U.S. national security policy, Soviet and Russian military doctrine, and American political discourse. The paper identifies alternative definitions for WMD, addresses some of the key policy issues associated with different definitions, and proposes a definition appropriate for the Department of Defense.
Oct. 1, 2009
Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
This Occasional Paper traces the general evolution of the countering WMD enterprise in the Clinton and Bush administrations and anticipates some of the major WMD challenges that lie ahead.
May 1, 2008
International Partnerships to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction
This Occasional Paper examines the role, manifestations, and challenges of international cooperation to combat the weapons of mass destruction threat and poses important questions for future leaders to address in moving international cooperation forward in this area.
April 1, 2007
The Future Nuclear Landscape
This Occasional Paper examines aspects of the contemporary and emerging international security environment that the authors believe will define the future nuclear landscape and identifies some associated priorities for policymakers.
July 1, 2005
Can al Qaeda Be Deterred from Using Nuclear Weapons?
This occasional paper pursues four different but complementary approaches to dissect the issue of whether acquisition of NBC/R weapons will mean employment for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
May 1, 2005
Iraq and After: Taking the Right Lessons for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction
This paper primarily focuses on Iraq; however, it also seeks to draw lessons from experiences in libya and Iran to understand better how proliferators think about WMD; the challenges in assessing the status and sophistication of developing world WMD programs; the contours of the emerging international proliferation landscape; and the efficacy of various policy instruments available to the United States for dealing with these so-called ultimate weapons.