Accession Number:

ADA510561

Title:

The Clock is Ticking

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:

COMMISSION ON THE PREVENTION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PROLIFERATION AND TERRORISM WASHINGTON DC

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2009-10-21

Pagination or Media Count:

28.0

Abstract:

This was the somber conclusion of the bipartisan, congressionally mandated Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism in its report, World at Risk, released in December 2008. On December 2, 2008, the Director of National Intelligence publicly agreed with this assessment. Today, 323 days since the release of that report, the clock continues ticking and we are now closer to a possible attack. The U.S. government has taken some of the decisive and urgent actions needed, but these actions have not kept pace with the increasing capabilities and agility of those who would do harm to the United States and the world community. The threat of bioterrorism is real. In December 2008, the Commission concluded that terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon. This finding is not singular In recent years, the United States has received strategic warnings of biological weapons use from dozens of government reports and expert panels. The consequences of ignoring these warnings could be dire. For example, one recent study from the intelligence community projected that a one- to two-kilogram release of anthrax spores from a crop duster plane could kill more Americans than died in World War II. Clean-up and other economic costs could exceed 1.8 trillion. Yet the nations level of preparedness for dealing with the threat of bioterrorism remains far lower than that of the nuclear threat. Central to U.S. biosecurity strategy should be the recognition that biological weapons are distinct from nuclear weapons and require a unique approach. Unlike nuclear weapons, which require highly advanced technology, massive infrastructure, and rare materials that can be closely monitored and secured, biological weapons materials occur naturally, require no significant infrastructure to produce, and can be found in nearly every part of the world.

Subject Categories:

  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE