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The FBI, Counterproliferation, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Research Paper

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The FBI, Counterproliferation, and Weapons of Mass Destruction

The United States government significantly increased activities in programs involved in the protection of the nation and the world against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2009 and 2010. The Obama Administration, in December 2009, gave a presidential policy directive aimed at countering biological threats with a focus on infectious illnesses whether such threats were manmade or natural. It was the second such directive the Administration had issued. The Quadrennial Defense Review in 2010 emphasized on how WMD’s proliferation was a threat to global security. In April of the same year, the Administration unclassified the Nuclear Posture Review for the first time and it was released alongside the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The treaty was aimed at lowering the number of deployable US and Russian weapons. Representatives drawn from all over the world met in May with a goal of renewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The goal of the treaty is a progressive reduction and eventual elimination of the number of states with nuclear weapons (Mauroni 2010, 58).

The race for nonproliferation started during the Cold War. During the era, conflict theory was relatively rational and enemies were well-defined. After 9/11, concerns about nuclear weapons began shifting from aggressive acts of nation states to the possibility that terrorist actors could take control of some of the stock piles to cause harm. Nevertheless, even though the push for nonproliferation began during the cold war, the regime hasn’t modernized at a rate fast enough to keep up with the growing threats. Counterterrorism and nonproliferation have not yet come together to work as one field and this has slowed down measures to eliminate chances of individual terrorist acts using WMD (Jennings, 2013, 1).

Preventative actions by nations have predominantly focused on nuclear threats. Indeed, biological and chemical threats were not given as much attention as nuclear threats until after the first Gulf War in the 1980s that pitted Iran against the Iraqi Kurds (Pilat, 2009, 15). The threat is real as non-state actors are the ones that have mainly used biological and chemical attacks. In 2006/2007, Iraqi insurgents used Chlorine with traditional explosive devices in an experiment to inflict the most harm possible. While the attack led to the injury of hundreds of people and the loss of death, it was not as lethal as the insurgents had hoped largely because of suboptimal delivery systems. A few days after 9/11, there was an anthrax attack in Washington DC that led to the death of five people and the infection of 17 other people. As per the FBI’s account, the investigation into the attack was one of the most complex operations the bureau had faced. The result of the investigation was that the culprit acted alone and was a government scientist employed in the biodefense lab. Experts concluded that the anthrax had not been “weaponized” after reviewing images of the same attack. Also, tests were done and they ascertained that the powders used in the attack had not been weaponzied.

As threats grow, new threats such as “agroterrorism” are capturing the imagination of the general population and defense experts. Agroterrorism, in particular, involves attacking agricultural targets using biological agents. These attacks can have tremendous health and economic effects as has been demonstrated by the outbreaks of “mad cow” and foot-and-mouth diseases in Europe. This is true even in scenarios where the spread of such diseases is organic and not artificially created. These attacks have the potential to cause a lot of social and economic disruption and lead to the infection of humans…

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…domestic and international security. Going forward, there is need for a more collaborative effort between all concerned agencies that stresses on consistency in both policy and actions. The filling of such gaps will help nations curb most of the threats posed by non-state actors (Jennings 2013, 6).

Methods of Evaluation

There is need to put in place frameworks that can integrate domestic and international security efforts more effectively. To this end, there will be a policy analysis to identify the alternatives and options available. The data for this analysis will be sourced from various academic fields including military science, political science, history, and security policy. Also, data will be sourced from official testimony and public statements that have been made by credible government and security officials. Instead of using a quantitative analysis, a qualitative analysis will be done to explore the subject of WMD terrorism partly because there are limited data sets that can be subject to a quantitative analysis. As is the goal with most qualitative analyses, the goal of the exercise will be to identify synergies and patterns that can lead to results greater than their individual parts in the event they are combined (Levi 2009, 9).

Qualitative analysis is appropriate because of the limited number of incidents that have been recorded involving WMD terrorism. Further, because of classification and other factors, it is not easy to get all the evidence and data from the known incidents. Therefore, most of the current debate on these issues is being done using incomplete information (Ogilve-White 1996, 43). This analysis will use publicly available knowledge and will not seek any classified documents. Among the open source knowledge that this analysis will have access to is diplomatic agreements, international protocols, and national and international policy. Generally, law enforcement agencies do…

Sample Source(s) Used


Busch, Nathan, and Joyner, Daniel (ed). 2009. “Introduction: Nonproliferation at a Crossroads.” In Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of Nonproliferation Policy. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.

Reiss, Mitchell. 2009. “Foreword.” In Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of Nonproliferation Policy. Edited by Nathan Busch, and Daniel Joyner. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.

Cameron, Gavin, Pate, Jason & Vogel, Kathleen. (2001). “Planting Fear: How Real is the Threat of Agricultural Terrorism?” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 57(5), 38-44.

Jennings, Elain. 2013. U. S. proliferation policy and the campaign against transnational terror: Linking the U.S. non-proliferation regime to homeland security efforts. Master’s Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School.

Levi, Michael. 2009. “On Nuclear Terrorism.” Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Mauroni, Albert. J. 2010. “A Counter-WMD Strategy for the Future.” Parameters, 58-73.

Ogilvie-White, Tanya. 2008. “Facilitating Implementation of Resolution 1540 in South- East Asia, and the South Pacific.” In Implementing Resolution 1540: The Role of Regional Organizations. Edited by Lawrence Scheinman. New York: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

Pilat Joseph F. 2009. “Dealing with Proliferation and Terrorism.” In Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy, edited by Nathan E. Busch and Daniel H. Joyner. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

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