Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) weapons existed since the fifties, but with the increased threat following the introduction of the radiological weapon, the view of on CBRN as agents of defence has totally changed to Weapons of Mass Destruction (CBRN, 1999). However, this has clouded people’s judgment, but CBRN weapons are just as safe until a country or terrorist organization decides to apply their use with the aim of terrorizing, instead of mass casualties. This paper aims to do an in-depth discussion on the development, use, threats and the steps taken to reduce the CBRN weapon use in reference to North Korea known for its proficiency in nuclear weapons.
North Korea’s Chemical and Biological Weapon Capability
Although, a tremendous challenge exists in determining the CBRN capability of a country, it is not hard to trace the evidence of chemical and biological weapons to the mother country that produces them. For instance, assessing North Korea capabilities does not come as obvious, compared to other countries known for their expertise in chemical and biological weapons (Spiers, 2010). The difficulty tied to this assessment boils down to the fact that they do not feature as members of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC); hence, their infrastructure has never faced declaration for serious scrutiny by the international bodies. Another reason is that, despite North Korea being a member of the Biological Weapons Convention, no developed mechanism for inspection exists to guarantee scrutiny into their manufacturing industry. Additionally, the fact that its facilities have an isolated location from the rest of the world shields them from any science probing and international scrutiny (Egan, 2005). Evidently, Science studies go to show that North Korea has a higher CBRN capability than any other country, because they possess plenty of the plutonium elements; among other resources, that gives them an advantage in the increased production of the nuclear warheads. Another boost to this capability results from the possibility of highly knowledgeable nuclear scientists that continue to research and implement new adverse changes in the Chemical and biological weapon industry. Moreover, Pyongyang’s possession of 2500-5000 tonnes of chemical weapons and the continuous funding of the biological weapons program increase North Korea’s CBRN capability, weapon delivery and risk threat to the global security. On the other hand, having not signed the CWC, Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the Geneva Protocol, North Korea remains in the dark away from the international inspection. This increases their CBRN capability and domination in chemical and biological weapons. Furthermore, the political regime of North Korea stood strong and stable, especially under the Kim Jong-il’s rule, which meant that, increase of North Korea’s CBRN capability through the struggle to retain its power over the other state and non-state actors. Summarily, North Korea produces and develops biological agents, which ensure the availability of chemical biological weapons for use. The country has also an adequate delivery system, which portrays the CBRN capability in dispersing and spreading the chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (Spiers, 2007).
Origin and Development of CBRN Weapons
North Korea has developed these weapons through the Soviet support in establishing chemical and biological industry and the defence units for the same. The five-year plan concentrated on erecting facilities for the continuity of the organic and inorganic chemical industry. Kim II Sung also aided the development of more production facilities to improve the Korean economy in 1961 through issuing the “Declaration of Chemicalisation.” This declaration awakened the realization of chemical warfare significance in North Korea, fostering the production of dual-use chemicals, such as phosphate and Sulphur among others (Egan, 2005). North Korea took a step further in the CBRN development by trying out with the production of lethal chemical agents. The development of chemical weapons in North Korea enjoyed the boost from the Chemical Weapons programme in place that oversaw the researches and actual production done, including the stockpiling of the CBRN weapons.
Possible Uses of CBRN Weapons
Despite the lack of clarity on the primary purpose of the North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons, assumptions and in-depth studies show that North Korea could use these weapons in targeting both the civilians and the military; in the case of offensive operations or retaliation from external attacks (Egan, 2005). North Korea would also utilize the use of the CBRN weapons in reducing the combat effectiveness of the South Korean and U.S. military; through cutting them off from their bases, storage areas, mobilization points and slow down any oversees reinforcement’s attempts.
North Korea’s Indulgence in Membership Treaties
Further, in an attempt to regulate the use of chemical and biological weapons by North Korea and other countries, treaties guarding the utilization of nuclear and chemical weapons are present. The Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is one of such treaties that take the international law front in regulating the nuclear-weapon states from abusing their power in CBRN capability to cause mass destruction (Egan, 2005). Having already developed chemical weapons in the past, North Korea joined the NPT as a member, but later in 2003, it withdrew. To them, the treaty only bound the chemical states together with the sole reason of disarmament, instead of controlling the transfer of weapons from nuclear to non-nuclear weapon states, so this meant their divided attention to acquiring and producing the nuclear weapons. Another treaty, known as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), formulated in 1996, laid down the strict measures to ban the testing of nuclear weapons above the earth surface, underground, outer space and underwater. This saw 44 different states with nuclear facilities linking up to sign this treaty (Thomson, 2001). However, North Korea has not signed this treaty, but processes are underway to monitor the functioning and operations of North Korea, in relation to their richness, in the CBRN weaponry. North Korea further went ahead and signed up for membership in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty reached in 1972; to limit the number of missiles that each nation could establish, but due to objection from other international states the U.S. withdrew it in 2002 (Pogany, 1987).
State and Non- State Actors Threat to Peace and International Security
According to reports and studies documented, the chemical and biological weapons have no boundaries, which present a greater challenge as to which actors (state or non-state) present more harm to the global security through their acquisition and use of CBRN weapons. Bioterrorism from the non-state actors poses more threat to the peace and international security than other state actors through the destabilization of health systems and labour for war (Spiers, 2010). The devastating destruction of war machinery also puts the whole world in a panic mood due to the exposure to the chemical and biological warfare, and hence, international insecurity. Although, avoiding the bias pressure on non-state actors’ state actors also contributes minimally to the threats to the peace and international security through the interstate wars, religious tensions internally in the state and the cold aggressions towards their citizens, leading to erosion of both state, human security and the ultimate contribution to international insecurity.
Measures towards Reducing the CBRN Weapons Threat
However, the CBRN weapons issues the world and all the weapon-state in the world have put measures to reduce chemical and biological weapon threat in an effort to maintain peace, international security and save humanity in the process in a very complex way. These measures include the international laws comprised of the treaty and customary laws that regulate the use of nuclear weapons during the war times and peace (Thomson, 2001). Treaty laws bind all the states into an agreement to cut down or regulate the CBRN weapon transportation from on nuclear state to another non-nuclear state. Some of these include the international treaties, like Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty that advocates for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Two other treaties exist as a control measure by banning the testing of nuclear anywhere in the earth’s atmosphere and outer space, hence, the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) and the CTBT. In addition, measures prohibiting the testing and use of weapons in the nuclear-free zones have undergone review to ensure that the UN General Assembly affects the necessary strategies towards CBRN weapon disarmament (Thomson, 2001). Additionally, the humanitarian law that protects the civilians during conflicts has fostered conventions to discuss a common ground for the abolition of nuclear weapons; such conventions include; the Geneva protocol, the CWC and BTWC that condemn the use of CBRN weapons in war. Further, other bodies formulated to establish measures that discuss the same issue and advocate for a ban in chemical and biological weapon utilization through the endless non-proliferation meetings, conferences and bilateral treaties on weapon disarmament (Cillufo, Cardash & Lederman, 2001). Examples of such bodies include the U.N. Disarmament Commission and the General Assembly First Committee.
This counteractive measures do not apply differently to either state or non-state actors, because as much as the non-state actors pose a greater threat to peace and international security; the state actors also equally contribute to the share of threats, because they both use the CBRN weapons.
Regarding the threats that CBRN weapons have on the world’s peace and security, the military will most likely develop the new desires and initiatives in attempt to produce more force that is lethal over the CBRN weapons, which would lead to even more environment, humanity and mass destruction (Cillufo, Cardash & Lederman, 2001). However, with the rise in the CBRN weapon threats, the world survives through the undying devotion of the federal states, governors’ commissioners, humanitarian activists and scientist in search of a lasting solution.