ABC of conflict and disaster:Weapons of mass destruction threats and responses
- By: Christine Gosden, Derek Gardener
Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) include chemical, biological, and radiological agents with the potential to cause death at low doses and with serious long term health effects in survivors. This article provides general information relevant to all situations, from terrorist attacks in developed countries to conflict zones in Third World countries. WMD agents can be used to terrorise or subjugate populations and wreak economic damage. Many agents are cheap to produce and can be deployed in different ways. As well as overt use, such as in bombs or by aerial spraying, they can be used covertly such as in packages sent in the post, via animal vectors, or by poisoning of water and food supplies.
The classic scenario of WMD use against civilians (the basis of many current exercises) is the release of the nerve agent satin in the Tokyo subway. In this attack the actions of first responders and