Biodefense and the return to great-power competition

By Gerald Epstein The Nonproliferation Review

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The 2017 US National Security Strategy asserts that, “after being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned,” pointing to actions that Russia and China have taken to reassert their influence and attempt to change the international order. Such a shift has implications for biodefense. It suggests an increased likelihood of the development and potential use of biological weapons by states, which had been downplayed by those who have been more concerned about non-state biological-weapons programs. State program access to expertise, facilities, and resources implies a greater level of technological sophistication than would typically be credited to non-state actors, influencing the requirements for national biodefense programs to detect, characterize, respond, to, and attribute a biological attack. States also could have missions for biological weapons that differ from those intended by terrorists.

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Gerald L. Epstein (2021) Biodefense and the return to great-power competition, The Nonproliferation Review, DOI: 10.1080/10736700.2020.1852751