Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
More Cooperation Needed on Biological, Chemical Threats: U.N. Report
A United Nations report released on Thursday calls for improved global cooperation in efforts to deter and address biological and chemical arms, pointing out that at present there exists no agency with overarching oversight on the matter (see GSN, Oct. 20).
The U.N. Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force-produced report noted that monitoring regimes that supply technical expertise to member nations on deterring and preparing for acts of chemical or biological terror could perform their functions better if they would exchange more information, according to a U.N. press release.
"Measures to develop and enhance preparedness against chemical and biological weapons use by terrorists should be pursued in a broader CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) context," reads a summary of the report.
The report on "Interagency Coordination in the Event of a Terrorist Attack Using Chemical or Biological Weapons or Materials" advocates more regionally focused initiatives aimed at spreading counter-WMD technical best practices.
The task force recommended that the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination office be officially approved as the body for organizing aid responses following a chemical or biological attack.
The report calls for more cooperation between Interpol and entities focused on probing and taking action against alleged instances of biological or chemical weapon usage.
Additional research is needed on public health responses and cleanup activities following a WMD attack, the report adds.
More must also be done to organize the dissemination of information to populations in an emergency situation, the task force said, while calling for the establishment of an emergency communications entity to handle such efforts (United Nations release, Nov. 10).
Task force chairman Assistant U.N. Secretary General Robert Orr said: "I think people are aware there are some very real issues here."
Though the United Nations offers a forum for "various actors" to gather and share insights with experts on terrorism dangers, that platform is "very fragmented," Orr said in remarks reported by the Xinhua News Agency.
"The U.N. family came together around an issue that was not a natural. It's not easy for some of the agencies, funds and programs to take a deep dive in this area because their mandate takes one piece of it," he said
"Biological and chemical threats are often the step child, or the orphan, after nuclear and radiological [threats] and I think its a function of the human experience that when we think about really what would keep us up at night, it's a mushroom cloud," the chairman said.
"Yet, if you look at the pound for pound or ounce for ounce threat, you look at the biological or chemical side of the equation, we are probably in many ways much more threatened by threats that come from the biological or chemical world," Orr added.
"The pace of change in the natural sciences in particular on the biological side is breathtaking. What can be produced in anyone's garage, anyone's bathroom, anywhere in the world today is fundamentally different than what could be produced 10 years ago. So, the fact is that the context of this report is a very fast-changing, science-based shift, tectonic shift, in particular, on the biological side."
"Chemical threats are many but I would underscore the biological side because I don't think that policy makers at the national level, at the international level, fully appreciate you just need to sit in a room with some scientists, from the natural sciences, for a few hours to realize that this world is moving so fast that any attempts to govern this space properly are challenged simply by the pace of change," Orr said (William Reilly, Xinhua News Agency/CRIENGLISH.com, Nov. 11).
Meanwhile, the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs last week opened a new branch in Vienna, Austria, according to a United Nations in Vienna press statement.
The new branch responds to "the growing need to cooperate and facilitate closer cooperation and effective interaction in all areas of disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control with [U.N. Office at Vienna] and with Vienna-based organizations and related specialized agencies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as well as with other relevant regional intergovernmental organizations," the release states (United Nations in Vienna release, Nov. 10).
March 12, 2013
The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.
March 7, 2013
A fact sheet on current and projected costs of maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent, produced by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.