Weapons of Mass Destruction

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Weapons

The proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons, commonly referred to as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and their delivery vehicles constitutes a significant threat to the security of Canada, its allies and the international community. Regardless of whether proliferation is carried out by state or non-state actors, the pursuit of WMD increases global tensions and may even precipitate armed conflicts. Canada is a party to many international conventions and other arrangements designed to stem the proliferation of WMD, and CSIS works closely with both domestic and foreign partners to uphold the nation’s commitment to this cause.

Canada is a leader in many high technology areas, some of which are applicable to WMD programs. As a result, foreign entities seeking to advance WMD programs have targeted Canada in an attempt to obtain Canadian technology, materials and expertise. CSIS investigates these attempts to procure WMD technology within and through Canada, and in turn advises the government as to the nature of these efforts. CSIS actively monitors the progress of foreign WMD programs, both in their own right – as possible threats to national or international security – and in order to determine what proliferators may be seeking to acquire.

A number of terrorist groups have sought the ability to use CBRN materials as weapons, including DAESH and AQ. While the technological hurdles are significant, the possibility that a terrorist group could acquire crude CBRN capabilities cannot be discounted. Even a relatively unsophisticated use of chemical, biological or radioactive material in small-scale attacks could have a disruptive economic and psychological impact that could far outweigh the actual casualties inflicted.

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