The Nexus of Emerging Technologies and Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism is a Combating Terrorism Center at West Point report by Major Stephen Hummel and Colonel F. John Burpo.

Throughout history, the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has been predominantly attributed to nation-states due to the substantial capital, infrastructure, and intellectual capacity required. However, there is a notable shift in this paradigm. While non-state actors have harbored interest in WMD for decades, the commercialization of emerging technologies is diminishing the financial, intellectual, and material barriers to WMD development and utilization.

This report serves as a primer, examining the critical challenges faced by non-state actors pursuing WMD capabilities and exploring the potential of emerging technologies to address these challenges. The report focuses on synthetic biology, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

While there are various opinions on the dual-use nature of these technologies, their potential for misuse, and the threats they may pose, the report emphasizes the challenges in developing a cohesive strategy to prevent non-state actors’ proliferation for nefarious purposes. The user’s intent is a crucial factor influencing the risk and threat associated with these dual-use technologies.

Publication Date– April 2020

The Nexus of Emerging Technologies and Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism contains the following major sections:

  • Introduction
  • Background on Selected Emerging Technologies
  • The Nexus of Emerging Technologies with WMD Terrorism
  • Concluding Analysis and Potential Solutions

There are no known distribution limitations of this report.

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Authors– Major Stephen Hummel and Colonel F. John Burpo

See Also-

Terrorist and Insurgent Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The Role of Drones in Future Terrorist Attacks

Post Image- Three unmanned aerial systems (UAS) soar in the sky, Aug. 21, 2019 at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (Post Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Simones)