The apparent accessibility as well as the catastrophic potential of Weapons of Mass Destruction has made the threat to the western nations more real and grave than ever before. This paper asserts that a holistic approach and more concerted efforts need to be made by all nuclear weapons states to check the proliferation and stockpiling of these weapons and to consolidate the gains of decades of arms control negotiations. Introduction The unrelenting wave of globalization has by far become the most talked about issue in academia, the business world as well as among government agencies everywhere.
The integration of economic, cultural and political systems in the world today has arguably given the United States of America an upper hand in the dominance of the world affairs. Due to this influence the U. S. and its allies especially western nations have earned many foes in form of influential hostile elements in foreign states. These hostile states most often feel that the U. S, its western allies and its vital interests have and continue to undermine their civil liberties and the sovereignty of their respective countries and people.
This increased animosity is the basis of the ever increasing threat of external aggression against the U. S, its western allies and its interests worldwide. The cataclysmic potential of any such external attack has today emerged as a dominant western security concern: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their systems of delivery (David A. Cooper 1). The number of countries currently in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction has risen significantly since the World War II with a growing number striving to acquire the technology for making these weapons.
It is therefore relatively easier for any determined force to access these weapons today. Main Text Weapons of mass destruction are so called because of their ability to indiscriminately cause death to a very great number of people. The origin of the term and early usage is fairly well documented but not authenticated. However, it is a fact that the phrase became rather popular following decisive atomic bomb attack on Japanese cities-Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
At this time, the term was used in reference to nuclear weapons but that changed over time and today it is used to refer to several categories to weapons with mass killing capabilities. They include: nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons. The making as well as the use of biological and chemical weapons can be traced back to a few centuries. However, nuclear weapons have only a recent history and their use limited. Over time countries have been seen to exercise restraint in their use, opting to stick to the conventional war despite having stocked piles of the WMD.
France was defeated by Germans in the 1940’s but its imminent defeat was not an enough reason to use WMD for is defenses. There are cases however when countries have used WMD, either in defense or when under no particular threats. U. S did it to Japan in 1945 with a devastating result, Iraq too”when facing Iranian human wave assaults during the Iran Iraq war,” Ephraim et al (12). Their usage or lack of it does not present a specific pattern that would be used as a basis to indicate possible future use. A states decision to resort to WMD is distinct from another and does not abide to a particular criterion.
The United States used chemical warfare during the Vietnamese war and yet it was not under considerable threat, the Israelis were ready to use nuclear weapons during the Arab- Israeli war, but eventually did not, in spite of the offensive weaponry unleashed against them by Egypt. The United States is credited with having pioneered the manufacture of most of these weapons. Biological weapons had seen their continued manufacture till 1969 when President Richard Nixon outlawed the production. These are weapons with an ability of spreading deadly disease such as anthrax and smallpox among others.
Russia, Iraq, and North Korea are still suspected to have these weapons in their possession. German was the first country to employ chemical warfare, against the French at the start of the 20th Century. Nuclear warfare was first again introduced and employed by the U. S during the Second World War. It is the most expensive of the three weapons o make due to the scarcity of the required nuclear elements such as plutonium. Soviet bloc followed suit in its manufacture and immediately afterwards evidenced a rapid proliferation of its manufacture.
China, Britain and France have these weapons; Pakistan and India have also tested this weaponry and are believed to be having them. Currently, the United States has the largest stock pile of these weapons followed closely by Russia. The annihilation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, sent shock waves to the humanity and also to the source of the weaponry itself; The United States. The reality that these weapons spell doom for mankind was brought to the surface precipitating a flurry of opposition towards manufacture and application of these weapons in a war.
However these opposing sentiments come to bear fruits later starting form 1970 when the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons came into force. It had an objective or curbing the spread of these weapons and their technology. The Chemical Weapon Convention on Disarmament was enacted in full in 1997. It is the threat posed by manufacture of weapons of mass destruction that has seen the international community take measures trying to limit their proliferation. States also adopt bilateral and multilateral policies to collectively scale down production.
These treaties are however undermined by the lack of uniform accepted instruments of enforcement, with some countries still producing these weapons, though discreetly. Production and use of WMD has been greatly suppressed as a result of the overwhelming pressure from the international community. Another threat however has emerged, with an enormous intensity. Since the September 11 terror attack on the U. S. A, western nations are trying to grapple with the un-settling and the eminent threat of WMD terrorism. Whether this threat is real or imagined is still an issue.
But it has seen western powers installing measures and mechanism to try to cope and combat this threat, as Davis argues: “…the September 11 attacks and the anthrax incidents that occurred in autumn 2001 clearly demonstrated to Americans that the possibility of becoming a victim of terrorism is real” Terrorist activities has been on the rise in the recent past, mainly targeting U. S and its key interests world wide, with no respect to might or strengths, terrorists have been staging spontaneous attacks to both the small and big states.
Kenya and Tanzania, in Africa, bore the blunt of terrorism in 1998 when the al-Qaeda staged twin strikes on the American embassies resulting to a large number of casualties. Australia and United Kingdom also have been attacked recently. The continued sophistication of weapons used by the terrorist groups instills fear and concern from most western countries. The threat of WMD terrorism increased day by day as the groups grow in size and financially, they might in the future be able to access more sophisticated artillery spelling doom to their worst critics in the western world.
Controversy abounds about the suitable definition of the term terrorism. It is a dynamic concept which largely depends on the individual’s point of view. To the victims of those attacks and mostly governments, terrorism is a form of outlawed violence and threat whose intention is to instill fear and subjugation in pursuit of either political or religious motives. The perpetrators of terrorism view it as some form of self determination. It is a tactic strategy to make the world aware of their plight.
In spite of its many and opposing meanings and definitions the real reason behind terrorism is to instill fear and intimidation, either imagined or real fear. The United States and U. K for example gave a long list of organizations in the world, which they either perceive to be terrorists, have terrorist links or sympathetic to terrorists. Al Qaeda tops the list and still poses the biggest threat to U. S security. The reason why there is increased fear of threat of WMD terrorism is due to the increased acquisition of nuclear technology by many countries other than the originanal signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea and many more are suspected to have nuclear weapons, some have even come to the open and declared so, with recently North Korea pulling out of the non-proliferation treaty. There might be many reasons why countries acquire nuclear weaponry. The most important reasons according to Frank Barnaby are: “the prestige, the need to source real or perceived security threats and domestic political motives”. (16). Others do it to counter the acquisition by their neighbors. An example is where Pakistan developed nuclear technology after India had exploded theirs.
Others like Israel, Frank continues in the same pagees: …. perceive that they have security problems which they believe may be removed or reduced by the acquisition o nuclear weapons”. Most of the arm races have been seen to grow from unfounded perceptions that a state is facing serious security problems that can only be erased by the acquisition of nuclear weapons. States use the nuclear technology to show case their might and abilities in a region in the hope that they will emerge as regional leaders. The United States produced nuclear weapons in the cold war to quell any threat that could have occurred, emanating from the Soviet bloc.
It was meant to act as a deterrence measure for any Soviet attack, as now they Soviet knew that Americans would retaliate with unequalled force and destruction. The international community and organizations have been on the forefront in trying to stop nuclear proliferation due to its great annihilation capacity which is more intense than the chemical and biological. There is more international outrage when a country explodes its nuclear weapons than when chemical and biological weapons are tested. According to Frank, this is because they cause less destruction than nuclear weapons (16).
The nuclear weapons proliferations is the major concern for U. N at the moment seen in the way it moves with speed to lead negotiations with countries that are suspected to have them, as well as taking measures that countries that at the moment don’t have nuclear weapons remain without access to this technology. Before the September attacks in the United States, there were no major concerns over terrorists’ access to WMD. But the mere enormity of the destruction caused by the attack sent shockwaves to western powers. They have had to rethink their policies and military strategies the fight against terrorism.
British before the attacks had not reconciled to the fact that terrorism was worth paying attention to, they chose to ignore it as a cause factor to insecurity in their country as Mary Buckley puts it: “Most of the standard British introductory texts on politics and international relations don’t make reference to the concept of terrorism, or if they do it is only to dismiss it on the ground that it is simply a perforative term for guerilla warfare and freedom fighting”. She continues: After 9/11 it became impossible, even for the most sheltered ivory towered academic, to deny the reality of terrorism. (25)
It is after this period that most western countries could be seen introducing stringent reforms in their policies and governance as well as establishing units and mechanism to counter global terrorism. It was not a problem to be left to U. S alone; Germany and U. K were also prone to these attacks. A fact evidenced recently by the attack on the London underground and the most recent foiled terrorist attempts to bomb U. K’s heart of international transport system; the Glasgow international airport, an attempt thwarted by both the public and the police, undoubtedly averting a tragedy that would have witnessed a high casualty and deaths.
It is this knowledge of the enormity that terrorist posed to the world that fronted the then U. K Prime Minister Tony Blair to deploy military forces, in conjunction with U. S. A to Afghanistan in search of the Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. It was also in this solidarity that Britain cooperated with America in Iraq or as Mary Buckley puts it British provided strong support for American government concert about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and provided military forces in support of the American military campaign against Iraq. (65)
It is this fear of the threat of terrorism that should see the much unpopular Americans search for WMD’s in Iraq. Although these were no weapons found, these operations succeeded in seeing the toppling of dictatorial regime and the consequent execution of Saddam Hussein. The operation emphasizes the western authorities’ view that WMD terrorism is real and if not tackled might occur any time soon. German too was shaken by the events of 9/11, more shocking were the news of hoax anthrax ridden letters circulating in German together with finding establishing a fact that Al Qaeda was operating deeply from Germany.
Not only had it a number of the September 11 terrorists lived in Germany, it became increasingly clear that al-Qaeda had a substantial financial and logistical base in Germany (Mary Buckley104) Evidence was also pointing towards there being in Germany, of many extremists and their supporters. A law was enacted later with an intention of banning religious groups with possible links to fundamentalists as well as arming police with authority to arrest suspected terrorists. Security measures in the airports and major transport stations were beefed up, with huge financial allocations in the budget for fighting terrorism.
The police have also been empowered to access any personal information in banks or held by public agencies. Can terrorists really access these weapons of mass destruction especially the nuclear weapons? This is a question that continues to bother many people in today’s world. The mere thought of what they would do if they gained access to such nuclear weapons leaves us shuddering. The increased number of countries with nuclear technology consequently increases terrorists’ organizations access to those weapons.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union presented a new challenge to nuclear containment. According to Frank, (55): …. the break up of the Soviet Union into a number of nation states, for example, leaves with it the risk that some of the 27,000 or so nuclear weapons, will fall into the hands of the people who do no have, and do not want, access to the normal command and control structures. There are renewed fears that terrorists would wish to employ the WMDs to heighten their fight for what they believe is a just cause.
Terrorists unlike the army do not have strict guidelines and laws that restrain their actions. They are known to follow the dictates of their whims and emotions and if they feel justified to employ the use of WMD they would do so regardless of the casualties inflicted. Saddam Hussein used chemical warfare in his fight against Iran and more worrying he used it against the Kurdish population in his own country (Frank, 55). This is a clear indicator that soon, terrorists’ warfare would get more and more sophisticated to embrace nuclear weapons.
Frank, further explores the number of options of terrorists have in their bid to acquire WMD, and nuclear weapons in particular (57). The most viable alternative to terrorists would be stealing from the stockpiles or hijacking one when it is under transportation, plutonium would be their main target. They might even consider exploding or attacking nuclear sites using it to black main the relevant states. Theoretical technology about nuclear weapons has become widespread of late and with the continued availability of plutonium will see many groups improvising nuclear devices.