Biological and Chemical Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism

From the chlorine gas attacks of World War I through the biological threats of the Cold War and to the present day, limiting the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons has been a significant international issue. The last decade, however, has brought an intersection of two key drivers that require a completely new way to look at chemical and biological defense and the challenges of chemical and biological proliferation and terrorism. The first, the changing nature of global security threats, began with the fall of the Soviet Union and was punctuated by the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax terrorist incidents that followed. Second is the shifting nature of technological progress, which brings entirely new capabilities, many of which are no longer the exclusive domain of a few large states. These drivers offer new opportunities and new challenges for chemical and biological defense and nonproliferation.

The aim of CISTP’s Project on Chemical and Biological Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism is to explore traditional and propose innovative new approaches to nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism to reduce the risk of chemical and biological weapons – including advanced and nontraditional agents – in the 21st Century.

Recognizing the proliferation and terrorist threats, CISTP’s Biological and Chemical Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Program is pursuing strategic national and international research on:

  • Transformational approaches for development of physical and medical countermeasures to traditional and novel biological and chemical agents;
  • Risk assessment and policy response to chemical and bioterrorism;
  • Effect of biodefense policies on the execution and management of life sciences research;
  • Understanding and explaining trends among non-state actors including improvised agents and unconventional agents and potential for exploiting our own infrastructure;
  • The role of non-governmental organizations and citizen’s groups in the execution of the Chemical Weapons Convention and implications for future international arms control agreements;
  • Approaches to international regulation, governance, and the security issues of advanced genetic engineering and synthetic biology;
  • Integrated and comprehensive risk assessment (consequence vs probability vs motivation) across the “WMD” spectrum;
  • Biological deterrence theory.