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Terrorist Group Use of CBRN Weapons

Assess the likelihood of terrorist group using CBRN weapons.

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Terrorist Use of CBRN Weapons


This is a very interesting topic which is at the forefront of international security concerns in the new milenium. It is likely that this assignment is an essay you will submit or a discussion you will take part in; I need to be clear at the outset that I can not submit a response in a form that could be handed in. What I will do is outline the current status of the issue as I see it framed in the literature and give you substantial references that you can examine on your own time. There is certainly no shortage of information available online about this topic. You will need to assess what you yourself think about the current threat of terrorist use of these weapons.

First, I will define CBRN (from Wikipedia) as an acronym for "chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear" agents used as weapons of either mass destruction (large scale demolition with or without large numbers of human casualties) or mass disruption (large-scale induction of fear and disturbance of the functioning of a society). In some usage, this term is extended to include explosives and the acronym has an "e" added (CBRNe). The use of these agents as weapons DURING TERRORIST ATTACKS, while apparently not widespread historically, is increasing and therefore has the potential at least to pose a major threat to international security. For further detail about CBRN in general see the following:

I will stick to the original usage of CBRN and will not include information about explosives, except the important incidence of explosives used AS A DISPERSIVE AGENT IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER AGENTS IN THE CBRN CATEGORY, which has high potential for inclusion in strategies to use CBRN weapons.

As one might guess, an analysis of terrorist use of CBRN weapons is complex and includes a number of interrelated factors. Since your assignment is for a biochemistry class, it seems inappropriate to get into a discussion about the politics of terrorism. As I see it, the major issues with these weapons from your perspective then would include (but are not limited to) the following:

1) What is the potential for damage or death to individuals by CBRN agents?
2) What is the potential for large-scale delivery of CBRN agents in high-population areas?
3) How likely is it for individual terrorist groups to obtain CBRN agents or produce them on their

Let's first examine number 1.

1) What is the potential for damage to individuals by CBRN agents?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of CBRN agents with the potential to injure or kill humans. The following paper has a concise analysis of ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the likelihood of a terrorist group using CBRN weapons.