In the mid-1990s, the primary threat posed by NBC weapons
to the United States shifted from an all-out U.S.-Russian strategic exchange to less overwhelming, but more numerous and perhaps less predictable threats.
One needs to develop a strategy to counter CBRN terrorism that is distinct from the strategy to counter nation-state development of NBC weapons
. This measure is necessary to stop the intradepartment and interagency squabbling over roles and responsibilities concerning counter-WMD issues, as well as to define a common lexicon on WMD terms and capabilities.
This is a classic third generation mindset, focusing on outdated scenarios of the planned heavy and sustained use of NBC weapons
against operational forces and/or strategic targets.
Since Ultimate Security was published in late 2003, three dramatic developments have occurred: the failure to find NBC weapons
in Iraq, calling into question the administration's rationale for preemptive war; Libya's decision to abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, raising hopes that proliferation in the Middle East region might be reversed; and the revelation that Pakistani nuclear scientist A.
They claim that if NBC weapons
"are detected in advance, covert attacks are relatively easy to defend against." The history of counterterrorist operations, however, is filled with cases where the terrorists were able to set off their explosives or fire their weapons before they were captured or killed.
In the event that a rogue regime acquires NBC weapons
, deterrence is clearly the first and preferred line of defense.
It assumed that nuclear weapons are only one of the capabilities that can address threats from proliferation of NBC weapons
and ballistic missiles.
As a consequence, it is important to think more carefully about how states and nonstate actors may actually use NBC weapons
. The approach here is to examine how our thinking about adversary use has evolved in the last decade and the implications this evolution has had.
Two issues stand out: (1) what role nuclear weapons have in the post-Cold War age; and (2) how effective nuclear deterrence will prove in regional conflicts where an adversary has NBC weapons
The term consequence management, under the counterproliferation strategy, addresses both the long-term remediation of contaminated terrain and military equipment to preincident conditions and support to coalition allies whose governments request official US military support to respond to the use of NBC weapons
in their country.
The United States discovered many vulnerabilities in its defensive capabilities during the Gulf War, particularly against NBC weapons
and ballistic missile delivery systems.
The new priority is on nonproliferation of NBC weapons
and missiles, building on the 1995 success in securing the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).