Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons and Missiles: Status and Trends [Updated January 24, 2003]   [open pdf - 3MB]

The United States has long recognized the dangers inherent in the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons and missiles. Despite the preeminence of U.S. military power, or perhaps because of it, these weapons continue to pose very serious threats to the United States and its foreign interests. NBC weapons could be delivered by means ranging from simple options that terrorist groups might employ (e.g., ships, trucks), to covert forces, aircraft, cruise or ballistic missiles. The total number of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons throughout the world is shrinking as the major powers scale back their inventories through unilateral reductions and arms control, but some additional countries and groups are trying to acquire these weapons. Especially since September 11, 2001, U.S. and allied leaders still debate the nature and extent of the threat, the impact on international stability, and the opportunities terrorists might exploit. This paper assembles current information on the status of weapons programs around the globe and analyzes patterns regarding the threats posed by these weapons.

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30699
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