News | Sept. 16, 2021

A Weapon of Mass Destruction Strategy for the 21st Century

By Al Mauroni, Zachary Kallenborn, Seth Carus, and Ron Fizer War on the Rocks

Photo By: WOTR
VIRIN: 210916-D-QC535-1001

The last time the U.S. government published a national strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Saddam Hussein was still ruling Iraq, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un was a teenager, and Xi Jinping was governing a Chinese province. The White House and the Kremlin were also talking about “acting as partners and friends in meeting the new challenges of the 21st century.” The world has changed greatly over the past twenty years, and ideally, so should national security strategies.

The December 2002 U.S. government concept for addressing WMD has been completely overtaken by strategic, political, and technological developments, including new risks posed by hypersonic missiles, cyber weapons, drone swarms, pandemic outbreaks, and AI. Today, the United States is threatened by a nuclear North Korea, a potentially nuclear Iran, and an eroding nuclear nonproliferation framework. American policymakers have witnessed North KoreaSyria, and Russia all use chemical weapons in recent years and have seen concerning biosecurity trends in Russia and China. Due to the nature of modern global supply chains, various state and non-state actors have greater opportunities to procure the materials and equipment needed to develop and deliver WMD.

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