Weapons of Mass Destruction Non-Proliferation Centre beefs up response
Recent attacks in Europe prove that terrorism is still a live threat. Although no terrorist group is known to have acquired nuclear weapons, they do consider chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) material as weapons.
“The current threats to western societies but also to Muslim countries range from Syria’s chemical weapons program to terrorist groups such as ISIL and Al-Qaida and 'lone wolf' actors,” Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, assistant secretary general for Emerging Security Challenges at NATO, said.
Toxic chemical and biological weapons are less expensive to create since components are easily purchased. This makes biological warfare a much more likely possibility from terrorists.
“Horrible pictures of wounded children and women from cases reported to the members of the UN Security Council are testimony to the real threat,” Wolfgang Rudischhauser, director of the NATO WMDC, said. “Doubts also still remain whether all chemical weapons and nuclear materials in Syria have been declared. Materials could still be falling into the hands of ISIL, a group that has shown by its atrocities committed, including the live burning of a Jordanian pilot, beheadings of men and recently of women, that it is ready to commit the most horrible crimes against humanity.”
NATO's WMDC believes the possibility of a nuclear attack from terrorists is low, thanks to the challenges in creating and distributing such a weapon, but is still on guard.
“Attackers could potentially use easily available CBRN material, such as chlorine, radioactive sources from X-ray machines in hospitals, or highly transmittable viruses such as Ebola and MERS,” Rudischhauser said.
In response to the ongoing threat of terrorism, NATO and the WMDC have, among other things, built up the ballistic missile defense capability with interceptors and sensors on NATO territory and at sea; established the Combined Joint CBRN Defense Task Force, a NATO military body specifically trained to deal with CBRN events; and established a deployable analytical laboratory, which can be transported rapidly to investigate, collect and analyze samples for identification of nuclear, biological or chemical agents.