Weapons of mass destructions can be considered the most devastative weapons that can cause massive injuries both to humans, animals, and structures. Developed during the turn of the 21st Century, it has both an immediate and after effects that can cause damages to properties, death, social implications, environmental problems, economic problems, and even political turmoil. In a general note, the weapons of mass destructions or WMD are weapons that can kill a large quantity of humans, or can cause a greater degree of damage to natural and man-made structures, and to the atmosphere.
The term WMD covers various types of weapons intended for such purposes. These weapons can be classified as chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological armaments. In addition to such, the manner upon which these weapons are utilized can be categorized as the ABC warfare (atomic, biological, and chemical warfare), and the CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear warfare). The emergence of these categories of WMD’s emanates during the period of the “Cold War” wherein the nuclear weapon only is being considered as WMD.
But during the collapse of the then powerful Soviet Union, followed by the Middle East crisis (including the invasion of the U. S. in Iraq in 2003), the anthrax attack of 2001, and the September 11 attack, the concept of WMD broadened to its present categories and can be considered an asymmetrical warfare wherein the “weapon” is not a conventional artillery but takes other forms so that it can be brought unnoticed. Due to its popularity, the American Dialect Society voted the term weapons of mass destructions as the 2002 Word of the Year (Menon 2004).
Different Types of Weapons of Mass Destructions As mentioned above, there are several categories of WMD, each have specific forms or manifestations, effects, and warfare. The nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons are considered such as capable of potentially bringing death on a larger scale, and even destructing an entire city or civilization: the devastating effects can be immediate while others are in a long-term manner. Chemical Weapons The context of chemical warfare can be categorized to two agents: the nerve agents, and the surface agents.
The nerve agents can damage the whole nervous system by blockading the diffusion of nerve impulses or messages all throughout the body. Some of the nerve gas agents are the VX, Sarin, Tabun, and Soman. The surface agents affect the surfaces of the body in contact with the agents. These include chlorine gas, phosgene gas, mustard gas, and hydrogen cyanide (Davis and Purcell 2006). The large-scale usage of chemical weapons first happened during the World War 1 when the German army released chlorine gas to the atmosphere towards the French armies.
Since then, the usage of chemical weapons has been adamant though there has been an International agreement banning chemical weapons. Several countries began disposing their chemical arsenal in the 1990’s but the fear of the threat of a sudden attack still exists Biological Weapons The context of biological warfare exists in the premise of utilizing living microorganisms. These biological agents can eventually reproduce, thus creating a potential harm to the environment in a small period of time.
The setbacks of utilizing biological weapons are the inherent unpredictability and uncontrollability of the agents once being released. Because of these, biological weapons are rarely used. The biological agents include fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can incapacitate or can kill. These include smallpox, anthrax, bubonic plague, and toxins that can cause botulism (Hutchinson 2003). The usage of biological warfare stems as early as the 14th century when the cadavers of a plague-infected body were thrown on enemy camps to cause the spread of infection.
During the 20th century, the lone widespread biological warfare military attacks were made by Japan against China in the 1930’s. Nuclear Weapons The power of nuclear weapons lies on the principle of harnessing the energy coming from the nucleus of the atom. Aside from the powerful blast the weapon can make, the after affect of the explosion produces radiation. These radiation, when in contact with skin or absorbed by the body, can eventually cause severe biological effects such as: edema, neurological disturbances, gangrene, and cancers.
The most devastating example of such power was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the World War II. Hiroshima was bombarded by an atomic bomb equivalent to 15 kilotons of TNT, and Nagasaki with an equivalent energy of 20 kilotons (Drielak and Brandon 2000). Control of Weapons of Mass Destructions Since these weapons can have a devastating effect, control or regulation of such are implemented by the United Nations with various international agreements.
Three agreements deal specifically with the biological and chemical warfare: The Geneva protocol of 1925 that prohibits the use of bacteriological weapons and chemical poison gas in war; the Biological convention of 1972 that prohibits the usage, stockpiling, and production of toxin and biological weapons; and the Chemical weapons convention of 1993 that verifies the compliance of countries in the agreement. With respect to nuclear weapons, the International Atomic Energy Agency was established to monitor the spread and development of nuclear materials and technology.
Aside from this, several treaties were established such as the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the 1970 Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, and the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) of 1988 (Torr 2005). Though there have been various treaties and agreements, the concept of a devastating effect can bring fear and threat to national security. Often time, several countries are facing the threat of weapons of mass destructions that relatively have an effect on homeland security. Homeland Security
The premise of being invaded, unnoticeably, by weapons of mass destruction creates a scene of concern with respect to the implementation and monitoring with regards to homeland security. For instance, the United States can be considered susceptible to an enormous loss of structures, life, and economic desolation from the terrorist or from covert delivery of WMD. More so, the borders are limited by physical boundaries and attempts to literally ‘seal off” the passage across the borders would have an effect on commerce and trade, not to mention the freedom of the people.
Despite these limitations, the U. S. should be protected from such threat of massive destructions. This is the point where the Homeland Security Advisory Council takes its responsibility. Through the advent of information technology, the council can make an analysis and subsequently make the necessary recommendations to create countermeasures to prevent the entry of weapons of mass destruction through individual or in any form whatsoever.
A task force is usually created, in coordination with government representatives and with the senior advisory council, to implement definite steps to prevent the entry of WMD. Usually, the system is bounded by a systematic approach: the task force coordinates with the experts from various levels outside and inside the government to understand the current practices, systems, and plans in the prevention of WMD entering the country. This information is then perceived as inputs on how to eventually improve the existing capabilities.
The task force then develops a new system of WMD prevention based on the gathered information. The gap is then measured with respect to the newly created and with the old system. Afterwards, the gap is analyzed and recommendations for a new system in preventing WMD are created to virtually close the gap (Herring 2000). The Threat and Information Technology The threat can be eminent: from the chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare. The concept of a possible attack cannot be eliminated and the likelihood of occurrence and impacts varies.
Regardless of the different scenarios, the consequences are inconceivable. Since the manifestations of possible attacks vary, not only the homeland security is of great concern but also the utilization of information technology. Information technology can be used to utilize the point of entry or the possible creation of a WMD. Even if the homeland security implements a strict compliance on the borders, the protagonists can have it delivered through the information gateway. This is one of the areas the homeland security should consider.
Through electronic mail or browsing the web, an individual who have the capacity to create such a chemical warfare or a biological weapon can have these in a matter of time. Aside from the information gateway, the usage of satellite communication, networking, cellular phones, and other media can be used as a medium to “bring” unknowingly into the country a weapon of mass destruction. Analysis The prevention of WMD entering a country can be considered an operational, off-putting management, technical, and a system challenge.
Factors to consider are the practice of authority, operational control, and decision- making processes. These factors are distributed to different organizations and individuals at compound levels. The important part is the common adherence to concentrate on the security aspect though the mandates, culture, motivations, and capabilities of an individual or organization varies. This apparent diversity has an advantage only if it is systematically managed. Conclusion
Possible deficiencies based on the above analysis can be: lack of systematic approach, the capabilities of the individual or organizations are dispersed, the concept of decision- making and leadership, the lack of citizen awareness and engagement, and a greater urgency or need to have an investment on the technological or information technology aspect. Weapons of mass destruction can have a devastating effect, both on the life, the structure, as well as to the biosphere. The various WMD consists of the chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare.
All of these have specific effects and consequences once conducted. Though there are several agreements and treaties made with respect to the control and regulation of such weapons of mass destructions, the fear of a possible threat is eminent. This is the area where the homeland security can take part in the prevention of a possible entry of WMD to a country. Usually, new system of WMD prevention is always being developed to compare the existing system and consequently minimized the difference or gaps.
The advent of information technology can be utilized to have a point of entry of WMD in a country. Not knowingly, through the information gateway, satellite communications, and even cellular phones can be utilized as a medium. The implementation of the system of preventing WMD (through the homeland security) can be considered a technical, operational, off-putting management, and a system challenge. Though diversified, the individual and various organizations must adhere and focus on a common goal, which is to prevent the possible threat of weapons of mass destructions.