Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Biggest Threat to Human Race

WMD

June 5, 2018

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Even though mass killing of human beings is not a new feature of warfare, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) pose an unparalleled constellation of challenges to peace and security.

As India is becoming a major player in the world economy, it needs to have security mechanisms of its own. As there is an unconventional battle going in between countries, the likelihood of using of non-conventional weapons becomes a practical reality. The result is the emerging Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – the Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Radiological (NCBR) weapons that can cause great damage to human race. It is becoming extremely important for nations to build on their resources to alleviate the outcome of any emergency threats to lives, property and the environment.

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapon means any weapon that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions. The nuclear reaction may either be fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Nuclear weapons have been used twice in war, both by the US and both on Japan. India has been a declared nuclear power for almost two decades. India has a declared nuclear no-first-use policy and is in the process of developing a nuclear doctrine based on “credible minimum deterrence.” In August 1999, the Indian government released a draft of the doctrine which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”. The document also maintains that India “will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail” and that decisions to authorise the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his designated successor(s). India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 (code named Smiling Buddha) and another one in 1998 (code named Operation Shakti). The United States and Japan imposed sanctions on India after the 1998 tests, which have now been lifted.

India has ruled out the possibility of joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state but said it remains “committed” to a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. India is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and four of its 17 nuclear reactors are subject to IAEA safeguards. Nuclear-armed fighterbombers were India’s first and only nuclear-capable strike force until 2003, when the country’s first landbased nuclear ballistic missiles were fielded. Experts believe that the Dassault Mirage 2000s and SEPECAT Jaguars of the Indian Air Force are able to provide a secondary nuclearstrike role. There are approximately 30,000 nuclear weapons in national stockpiles of the eight nuclear weapons states-Britain, China, France, India, Israel (assumed), North Korea (claimed), Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.

Chemical Weapons

The term chemical weapon is applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action. India signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1992, stating that it did not have chemical weapons and the capacity or intent to manufacture chemical weapons. In June 1997, India declared its stock of chemical weapons (approximately 1,045 tonnes of sulphur mustard). By the end of 2006, India had destroyed more than 75 pc of its chemical weapons/material stockpile and was granted extension for destroying the remaining stocks by April 2009. India informed the United Nations in May 2009 that it had destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons in compliance with the International Chemical Weapons Convention. With this India has become third country after South Korea and Albania to do so.

Biotechnology Warfare

A P J Abdul Kalam had once asserted that India “will not make biological weapons. It is cruel to human beings…” Biological warfare is also known as germ warfare. It makes use of lethal bacteria, viruses, or toxins that are distinguished by their profoundly uncontrollable nature. Once unleashed, a biological agent such as smallpox can spread quickly to cause an epidemic in human populations. India has a well-developed biotechnology infrastructure that includes numerous pharmaceutical production facilities and biocontainment laboratories (including BSL-3 and BSL-4) for working with lethal pathogens. India has defensive biological warfare (BW) capabilities and has conducted research on countering various diseases.

India has a treaty with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which it ratified on July 15, 1974, and pledged to abide by its obligations. India also has an extensive and advanced, dual use pharmaceutical industry. India has a well-developed biotechnology infrastructure that includes numerous pharmaceutical production facilities and bio-containment laboratories (including BSL-3 and BSL-4) for working with lethal pathogens.

The military utility of biotechnology is likely to grow beyond biological weapons and medical protection. Countries have started to realize that juxtaposing this technology with other technologies like nanotechnology could offer many dividends to military and therefore they have started investing in it. India’s recent development and current status of biotechnology industry is rapidly expanding through its extensive and advanced dualuse pharmaceutical industry. In January 2014, U.S. Food and Drug Administration representatives carried out a week-long inspection of a major pharmaceuticals complex, noting that quality control and the microbiology labs were in need of improvement. On June 3, 2015, India and the United States signed a new 10-year defence framework agreement, which includes provisions to work cooperatively to develop defence capabilities, including a lightweight protective suit effective in chemical and biological hazard environments.

Radiological Warfare

Radiological terrorism falls under the broader umbrella of NCBR terrorism/WMD terrorism. Radiological warfare is any form of warfare involving deliberate radiation poisoning or contamination of an area with radiological sources. There are tens of thousands of functioning radioactive sources in over 100 countries, and these sources find applications in multiple medicinal (including cancer treatment), industrial, and agricultural purposes. While these sources are highly beneficial for mankind, some of these same sources, however, can also be critical ingredients for a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD), more generally termed as a “dirty bomb”.

In 1995 Chechen rebels issued threat of releasing radioactive material in Moscow’s iconic parks. Other than that there is always Al-Qaeda’s interest in using CBRN weapons. Apart from these there has been no known instance of radiological terrorism.

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