The Menace Of Mass Destruction S |WORK|
A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or any other weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to numerous individuals or cause great damage to artificial structures (e.g., buildings), natural structures (e.g., mountains), or the biosphere. The scope and usage of the term has evolved and been disputed, often signifying more politically than technically. Originally coined in reference to aerial bombing with chemical explosives during World War II, it has later come to refer to large-scale weaponry of warfare-related technologies, such as chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear warfare.
The Menace Of Mass Destruction S
Who can think at this present time without a sickening of the heart of the appalling slaughter, the suffering, the manifold misery brought by war to Spain and to China? Who can think without horror of what another widespread war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass destruction?
William Safire credits James Goodby (of the Brookings Institution) with tracing what he considers the earliest known English-language use soon after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (although it is not quite verbatim): a communique from a 15 November 1945, meeting of Harry Truman, Clement Attlee and Mackenzie King (probably drafted by Vannevar Bush, as Bush claimed in 1970) referred to "weapons adaptable to mass destruction."
Safire says Bernard Baruch used that exact phrase in 1946 (in a speech at the United Nations probably written by Herbert Bayard Swope). The phrase found its way into the very first resolution the United Nations General assembly adopted in January 1946 in London, which used the wording "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other weapons adaptable to mass destruction." The resolution also created the Atomic Energy Commission (predecessor of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)).
It is a very far reaching control which would eliminate the rivalry between nations in this field, which would prevent the surreptitious arming of one nation against another, which would provide some cushion of time before atomic attack, and presumably therefore before any attack with weapons of mass destruction, and which would go a long way toward removing atomic energy at least as a source of conflict between the powers.
During a speech at Rice University on 12 September 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke of not filling space "with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding." The following month, during a televised presentation about the Cuban Missile Crisis on 22 October 1962, Kennedy made reference to "offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction."
An early use of the exact phrase in an international treaty is in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, but the treaty provides no definition of the phrase, and the treaty also categorically prohibits the stationing of "weapons" and the testing of "any type of weapon" in outer space, in addition to its specific prohibition against placing in orbit, or installing on celestial bodies, "any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction."
During the Cold War, the term "weapons of mass destruction" was primarily a reference to nuclear weapons. At the time, in the West the euphemism "strategic weapons" was used to refer to the American nuclear arsenal. However, there is no precise definition of the "strategic" category, neither considering range nor yield of the nuclear weapon.
Subsequent to Operation Opera, the destruction of a pre-operational nuclear reactor inside Iraq by the Israeli Air Force in 1981, the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, countered criticism by saying that "on no account shall we permit an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against the people of Israel." This policy of pre-emptive action against real or perceived weapons of mass destruction became known as the Begin Doctrine.
The term "weapons of mass destruction" continued to see periodic use, usually in the context of nuclear arms control; Ronald Reagan used it during the 1986 Reykjavík Summit, when referring to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Reagan's successor, George H. W. Bush, used the term in a 1989 speech to the United Nations, primarily in reference to chemical arms.
After the 11 September 2001 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, an increased fear of nonconventional weapons and asymmetric warfare took hold in many countries. The fear reached a crescendo with the 2002 Iraq disarmament crisis and the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that became the primary justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq; however, American forces found none in Iraq. They found old stockpiles of chemical munitions including sarin and mustard agents, but all were considered to be unusable because of corrosion or degradation. Iraq, however, declared a chemical weapons stockpile in 2009 which U.N. personnel had secured after the 1991 Gulf War. The stockpile contained mainly chemical precursors, but some munitions remained usable.
Because of its prolific use and (worldwide) public profile during this period, the American Dialect Society voted "weapons of mass destruction" (and its abbreviation, "WMD") the word of the year in 2002, and in 2003 Lake Superior State University added WMD to its list of terms banished for "Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness" (and "as a card that trumps all forms of aggression").
There have been calls to classify at least some classes of cyber weapons as WMD, in particular those aimed to bring about large-scale (physical) destruction, such as by targeting critical infrastructure. However, some scholars have objected to classifying cyber weapons as WMD on the grounds that they "cannot [currently] directly injure or kill human beings as efficiently as guns or bombs" or clearly "meet the legal and historical definitions" of WMD.
The most widely used definition of "weapons of mass destruction" is that of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons (NBC) although there is no treaty or customary international law that contains an authoritative definition. Instead, international law has been used with respect to the specific categories of weapons within WMD, and not to WMD as a whole. While nuclear, chemical and biological weapons are regarded as the three major types of WMDs, some analysts have argued that radiological materials as well as missile technology and delivery systems such as aircraft and ballistic missiles could be labeled as WMDs as well.
Chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons capable of a high order of destruction or causing mass casualties and exclude the means of transporting or propelling the weapon where such means is a separable and divisible part from the weapon. Also called WMD.
The significance of the words separable and divisible part of the weapon is that missiles such as the Pershing II and the SCUD are considered weapons of mass destruction, while aircraft capable of carrying bombloads are not.
In 2004, the United Kingdom's Butler Review recognized the "considerable and long-standing academic debate about the proper interpretation of the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction'". The committee set out to avoid the general term but when using it, employed the definition of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, which defined the systems which Iraq was required to abandon:
Chemical weapons expert Gert G. Harigel considers only nuclear weapons true weapons of mass destruction, because "only nuclear weapons are completely indiscriminate by their explosive power, heat radiation and radioactivity, and only they should therefore be called a weapon of mass destruction". He prefers to call chemical and biological weapons "weapons of terror" when aimed against civilians and "weapons of intimidation" for soldiers.
For the purposes of the prevention of weapons proliferation, the U.S. Code defines weapons of mass destruction as "chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and chemical, biological, and nuclear materials used in the manufacture of such weapons".
The Washington Post reported on 30 March 2006: "Jurors asked the judge in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui today to define the term 'weapons of mass destruction' and were told it includes airplanes used as missiles". Moussaoui was indicted and tried for conspiracy to both destroy aircraft and use weapons of mass destruction, among others.
The surviving Boston Marathon bombing perpetrator, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was charged in June 2013 with the federal offense of "use of a weapon of mass destruction" after he and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly placed crude shrapnel bombs, made from pressure cookers packed with ball bearings and nails, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He was convicted in April 2015. The bombing resulted in three deaths and at least 264 injuries.
International restrictions on biological warfare began with the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use but not the possession or development of biological and chemical weapons. Upon ratification of the Geneva Protocol, several countries made reservations regarding its applicability and use in retaliation. Due to these reservations, it was in practice a "no-first-use" agreement only. The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) supplements the Geneva Protocol by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling, and use of biological weapons. Having entered into force on 26 March 1975, the BWC was the first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban the production of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. As of March 2021, 183 states have become party to the treaty.