Federation of American Scientists hosts symposium on catastrophic threats

The Federation of American Scientists held a day-long symposium on Friday with featured speakers making recommendations to the Obama administration on how to most effectively respond to catastrophic national security threats.

During the meeting, which was held at the National Press Club in Washington, experts addressed multiple areas of security, including biotechnology, conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, cyber security, nuclear safety, and electricity generation, storage and distribution.

The speakers proposed 13 memorandums in all, two of which dealt directly with biological and chemical arms. In a memorandum titled "The Changing Biological Threat," David Franz endorsed intelligent international engagement policies to increase national security and lower costs.

Franz suggested that the next administration realize that while there is no technical solution to stop biological threats, simple metrics for sustainable engagement would change how countries think and act. The administration must seek to understand risks and intentional threats and engaging with people to create relationships is the most important aspect of biological security policy.

In a memorandum called "Goals for Chemical and Biological Nonproliferation and Disarmament," Paul Walker and Marina A. Abrams of Global Green USA recommended goals for biological and chemical arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament.

Walker and Abrams recommended that the Obama administration strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention - the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, fully fund and implement safe and sound destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile in the U.S., continue to support and engage Russia's chemical weapons destruction program, strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, develop a comprehensive policy for governing emerging dual-use technologies, and support the international and national efforts of scientific communities to promote responsible research.

The FAS stresses an ethical obligation to make sure that the technological creations of intellect and labor in the world are applied to the benefit of humankind.