WMD Proliferation, Globalization, and International Security: Whither the Nexus and National Security? [open pdf - 77KB]
"Throughout the 1990s, the United States national security establishment gradually embraced the idea of a growing threat posed by the proliferation of a variety weapons and weapons technologies that could cause mass casualties to combatants and non-combatants. Nuclear weapons had long occupied the rhetorical space used by policy makers to describe weapons that could kill on a mass scale, but gradually terminology associated with nuclear weapons got subsumed by term "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD), which quickly became an accepted term in the national security policy lexicon. The term is first believed to have surfaced in the media in the aftermath of the German bombing of the Guernica in April 1937. It reappeared periodically during World War II in reference to the indiscriminate killing of civilians by aircraft. Today, the term is defined in U.S. Code Title 50 as "any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors; a disease organism; radiation or radioactivity." For purposes of this analysis, the term is defined as weapons that can inflict mass casualties on combatants and noncombatants using nuclear and radiological devices, long range missiles, and chemical- and biological weapons."
Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
Strategic Insights (July 2006,) v.5 no.6