Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are, according to U.S. law, "any destructive device…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; any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector…any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life." Throughout history, they have often been referred to as CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive) weapons. Each of these classes of weapons has the potential to inflict significant damage and casualties to the U.S. and its allies.
A Matter of National Security: WMDs Found In Nations Across the Globe
WMD proliferation has always been a matter of a vital national security issue for the U.S. Especially since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, WMDs have had renewed national security priority focus, as prescribed by former President George W. Bush. The proliferation of WMDs and technologies to deliver them among rogue regimes or state sponsors of terrorism —such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Syria—represent a threat to the national security interests of the United States and its allies in these regions.
Bolstering WMD Awareness
The U.S. should remain vigilant in addressing WMD threats at home and abroad. It should continue to develop means to obtain information about WMDs, including potentially re-establishing a WMD-specific commission geared towards improving intelligence capabilities, and tools to destroy them and mitigate their effects.
The nation should maintain response teams that are trained, well-equipped, and ready to address WMD threats in a proactive manner and deal with their consequences. U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is charged with responsibility for overall military defense of the U.S. homeland and defense support of civil authorities. It is critical that NORTHCOM further advance the critical capabilities needed to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of a WMD attack against the U.S. homeland.
WMD Statistics: Dispelling Fallacies and Lies
It takes only 33 minutes for a long-range ballistic missile to reach the U.S. from anywhere in the world. The timeframe is even shorter if a missile is launched close to the U.S. territory.
With this in mind, the U.S. should also develop a comprehensive layered ballistic missile defense system, because ballistic missiles remain one of the best means to deliver WMDs, especially nuclear weapons.
The U.S. should maintain and modernize its aging nuclear weapons arsenal. The credibility of its nuclear capability is essential for deterring some attacks on the U.S., its forward-deployed troops, and its allies, including attacks that could be committed with WMDs, Currently, the U.S. is the only nuclear weapons state without a substantive modernization program. This sends the wrong signal to those who want to harm U.S. interests.