CBRN Weapons of Mass Destruction

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The catastrophic hazards posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are currently at the forefront of global politics. The phrase WMD refers to a class of weapons that have two key characteristics: first, their large-scale devastation effect, and second, the indiscriminate nature of their end effects when employed, particularly against humans (Laura, 2015). According to international law, CBRN and any other munitions capable of mass killing humans, damaging man-made structures, the environment, and natural features such as mountains are classified as WMD (Sharma, 2010).The proliferation of CBRN armament commonly known as weapons of mass destruction constitutes a substantial threat to its allies, international community and the world as a whole. In the world over, terrorist groups have sought the ability to use the technology of the CBRN materials as armament. Over the past years, various countries have heavily built and stored WMD, which are normally CBRN and other materials used in producing these weapons (Sharma, 2010). Even though majority are committed to eliminate all stockpiles of WMD, nine states are currently possess nuclear weaponries- United States, China, Britain, India, France North Korea, Russia, Pakistan while several are also believed to own biological and chemical or both. This paper sought to explore in depth the nuclear weapons to generate new ideas for WMD planning (Laura, 2015).

Research Question

What are the basic characteristics of the biological, nuclear, chemical, and radiological weaponries?

What are the current threats posed by the CBRN globally, their history, international agreements, government policies, and promising strategies to reduce the grave dangers posed by these weapons?

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this research is to sight in-depth information on the major physiognomies of the CBRN as well as the current threats they posed worldwide. The paper sought to explore in depth the nuclear weapons to generate new ideas for WMD planning (Laura, 2015). It reviews the history of the CBRN, international agreements as well as significant government policies regarding the WMD. In addition, this paper has clearly defined meaning of the WMD according to international standards Glauser, 2011).

Literature Review

What are Weapons of Mass Destructions?

A weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) in general terms refers to armaments leading massive destruction of live when used. There are four main types of WMD, namely; chemical warfare agent, biological, radiological materials, and nuclear weapons- commonly referred to us CBRN. Additionally, WMD also include to some extent, missile technology as well as delivery systems or methods like ballistic missiles and aircrafts (Laura, 2015). The generalization of the WMD provides convenient mass-casualty weaponries upon use, however, the CRBN are very distinct in characteristics, their effect upon use, and military plays different roles of various chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons as detailed below (Pita & Anadón, 2015).

Brief History of WMD

Nuclear weaponries: is rated as the most destructive of all in the public eye and imagination due to their horrific as well as unmatched destructive power in comparison to others like chemical. The study shows that all-out nuclear attacks could annihilate millions of persons within a span of few hours and for these reason researchers argues that nuclear weapons should be categories in its own class (Stearns-Boles, 2017). Depending on the atmospheric conditions and the yielding, thermonuclear weaponry dropped in a densely populated area like cities can kill millions of persons destroying large number of man-made structures instantly. For instance, detonation of a small nuclear weapon can kill over ten thousands of people and many more thousand would die due to post detonation effects of radiation (Pita & Anadón, 2015). Due to government security secrecy, it is not possible to give exact accounts on the yield and makeup of global nuclear armaments. However, roughly 13,480 nuclear weaponries are deployed worldwide among the nine stated while 14,100 are held in reserve. Overall, the number has decreased in total currently even though all nine countries continued to modernize and maintain their nuclear weapons, asserting that it is vital for their state security (Laura, 2015).

Chemical Weapons: are also notable due to their extensive and longstanding commercial and military expertise in engineering their components. In comparison to nuclear armaments, chemical weaponries are considerably cheaper and easier to engineer. Numerous graved dangerous chemicals components as well as the precursors of chemical weaponry are currently commercially available in the weaponry market (Brannon, 2016). However, global treaty that burned the use of the chemical armaments, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), was convened into a recognizable force in 1997 (Carus, 2012). The agreement required the signatories to in order to dismantle the existing stockpile of the chemical armaments. According Laura’s research and accountability regarding the chemical weaponry, over two million of such as well as twelve million metric tons of the chemical reactors argents have been ruined (2015). Currently, one hundred and seventy five countries have so far signed the treaty and more are expected to follow suit (Carus, 2012).

Biological weapons: make use of the lethal viruses, toxins, or bacteria are characterized and distinguished from other WMD with their profoundly uncontainable nature (Laura, 2015). They are not boundary based and once unleashed, the biological urgent contained in the weapon for instance small pox, it can spread promptly causing an epidemic in humanoid populations. Even though these weaponries are gravely dangerous, rarely are they used in war or in terrorist attacks due to their uncontrollable nature (Laura, 2015). However, worldwide there is a serious concern on the likelihood of biological weapon use in the future in light of the current dynamism of the biomedical advancement in the biotechnology. The worry is on the technologies availability to create these weapons as well as their widespread biological agents (Carus, 2012).

Researches indicates that numerous states have developed and upheld active biological armaments programs regardless of the Geneva Convention of 1925 that prohibited the application of germs weaponries during war (Sharma, 2010). In 1972, Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) barred countries in making, maintaining, or transferring such graved weapons to other states. However, it is unfortunate that the current prohibitions have no enforcement mechanisms like global rules and regulation to govern the biological research that would results in bioweapons such as anthrax (Carus, 2012).

How Nuclear Weapons Operates

Nuclear weapons are engineered to cause damage via explosion just like the convention bombs, releasing a vast amount of energy promptly. Generally, bombs explored due to chemical reaction involving the rearrangement of atoms forming new molecules (Pita & Anadón, 2015). However, in nuclear weaponries, the explosion occurs as a result of changing the individual atoms, either via disintegration or via fusion to create new atoms. The reaction unleashes enormous energy of numerous orders in comparison having greater magnitude as compared to chemical explosion that arise from the rearrangement of molecules. From Einstein’s, the energy released is given by E=mc2, where m is the mass and c is the speed of light. Nuclear weaponries are of two major types namely, fusion and fission weaponries (Pita & Anadón, 2015).

In the case of Fission Armaments, an atom splits. The fission explosive core is made of highly enriched uranium or plutonium. The atoms of the two elements are very heavy due to large numbers of neutrons and protons in their nuclei. When their heavy nucleus divides into two-minute nuclei, it releases extra neutrons (Stearns-Boles, 2007). The released neutrons are further absorbed in other nuclei, and in turn disintegrate releasing more neutrons to set off a chain reaction. According to research, it is only highly enriched uranium or plutonium are the only materials capable of undergoing carefully designed circumstances to achieve a overwhelming powerful self-sustained fissile series of reaction (Stearns-Boles, 2007).

Fusion armaments, which are also commonly known as hydrogen bombs (tritium and deuterium - hydrogen isotopes) fuses as one while creating heavier atoms is what leads to explosion. Fusion is the same reaction process that takes place at the center of the sun. However, this reaction only occurs at extremely high pressure and temperatures (Brannon, 2016). To create such conditions in fusion weaponries, fission explosions are used to trigger fusion explosions. There are no theoretical bounds to the explosive energy of fusion weaponries. Research shows that fusion armaments are ten to hundred times as explosive as compared to the fission armaments (Stearns-Boles, 2007).

Nuclear Armaments Effects

Effects of the use of nuclear weapons are vast and devastating. To get a grasp of the reality, it is vital to understand that nuclear detonations release several forms of distinct energy of which each has its own shocking consequences ranging from thermal radiation, direct nuclear radiation, electromagnetic pulse, blast, and fallout. The thermal radiation consists of both the light and the intense heat (Stearns-Boles, 2017). The heat is too intense to the extent materials at the epicenter of the explosion vaporize immediately. The radiation creates fireballs that promptly expand absorbing oxygen and with blast effect, it creates total ruin of near objects. The light too is too intense to explode sand, blind persons miles away, ignite flammable objects, burn human skin, and shadows into concretes (Delgado, 2008).

The blast due to prompt unleashing of the energy results in shockwaves equal to thousands pounds of pressure per square inch capable of crushing any object on the earth’s surface (Laura, 2015). Electromagnetic pulse released though does not kill humans directly; it disables any electrical device on its path making the experience more devastating. Fallouts consists of exploded materials from buildings, earth and other objects propelled upwards mixed with radioactive materials fall back and continues the descent for over twenty four hours (Laura, 2015).


Weapons of mass obliteration appear to dependably be the go to arrangement with regards to fear monger gatherings. It creates the impression that further examination would be helpful in investigating tranquil choices, for example, verbal confrontations and pioneer gatherings. Doing such research is fundamental since while picking an answer for this issue one must take a gander at all of the choices and this arrangement may be the one that recoveries most lives and along these lines the best choice.


Carus, W.S. (2012). Defining Weapons of Mass Destruction. Retrieved from http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/occasional/cswmd/CSWMD_OccationalPaper-8.pdf

Brannon, R. B. (2016). Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Combating Transnational Terrorism, 99-114. doi:10.11610/ctt.ch07

Laura, R. (2015). Peace and world security. Weapons of Mass Destruction, 3(5), 12-32. Retrieved from https://www.hampshire.edu/pawss/weapons-of-mass-destruction

Pita, R., & Anadón, A. (2015). Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism. Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents, 55-65. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-800159-2.00007-5

Sharma, R.K. (2010). Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear disasters: Pitfalls and perils. Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences, 2(3), 155-156.

Stearns-Boles, S.L. (2007). The Future Role and Need for Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century. Report. U.S. Air Force Academy, Institute for National Security Studies, USAFA. Retrieved from dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA541415

April 19, 2023

War Environment Science

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