Limiting Terrorist Threats Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction

The attack of 11th September 2001 was a wakeup call for the United States and the rest of the world as well to overhaul their counterterrorism techniques and measures. It resulted to major policy changes and the invasion of Afghanistan. The department of Homeland Security was set up, immigration was tightened, and border control was enhanced. But the 9/11 attacks did not see proliferation measures overhauled. The Bush administration did however attack the Republic of Iraq under the pretext of eradicating weapons of mass destruction in the country. It now seems that the justification used for the invasion of Iraq was incorrect. (Jakarta post) That aside, many nations today hold many and different types of weapons of mass destruction.

Though the definition of the term weapons of mass destruction is considered too wide, some of the notable weapons in this category include nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. It is important to note that no terrorist organization has up to now been declared as having weapons of mass destruction. But there nations considered as enemies of the United States and its allies that have or are in the process of making weapons of mass destruction. These nations include North Korea and Iran. One of the practical measures implemented to prevent the potential terrorist threat of weapons of mass destruction is dissuasion. This approach persuades nations not to develop weapons of mass destruction in the first place. A number of countries including Japan, Turkey, and Germany have been persuaded not to develop nuclear weapons. Disarmament programs like the Nonproliferation Treaty whereby nations come into an agreement not to acquire any more weapons if the others don’t also work in some cases (Carter).

In the context of nuclear weapons, no terrorist organization today has them. Therefore steps should be made to ensure that those nations that have these weapons store them safely under lock and key. The governments should ensure that under no circumstances should these weapons get in the hands of terrorists. These circumstances include sale, seizure or diversion. There have been concerns over countries such as Pakistan which have nuclear capabilities and terrorist groups including Taliban and Al Qaeda. The United Nations with the collaboration of major powers should make sure that no more plutonium is enriched especially in countries considered hostile. If possible, excess stock of these bombs should be destroyed (Indymedia).

Though diplomacy is seen as a soft approach to the issue of weapons of mass destruction, it has worked in some cases. For instance the United States has persuaded some countries such as Brazil and Argentina to forsake their nuclear weapons in exchange for U.S protection. Others such as South Korea have been dissuaded from going on with their nuclear ambitions in exchange of the same. (Carter).

Not one single of the above practices is sufficient for preventing the threat of terrorism using weapons of mass destruction but rather the combination of all and other emerging ones. Governments should evaluate which is the most appropriate method of preventing such a scenario. The most effective way of preventing such an occurrence though is to ensure that such weapons are not made in the first place.


  1. Asia’s role in eradicating terrorism.
  2. Carter, B. Ashton. How to counter WMD.
  3. Eradicating WMD.
  4. Preventing further proliferation of WMD.
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