UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the international community to renew its commitment to eliminate weapons of mass destruction as technological advances make it cheaper and easier for terrorist groups to produce and deliver materials for making the weapons.
Ban, speaking at a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, said much good work has been done to curb the production of WMDs, including the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Security Council Resolution 1540 in 2004, which legally obligates UN member states to enforce measures against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
But he said technological advances have made it easier for terrorist groups to gain access to the materials needed for making such weapons. “Vicious non-state actors that target civilians for carnage are actively seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons,” he said.
In fact, the possibility of the use of such weapons by terrorist groups, criminals and other non-state actors has become one of the most significant challenges to nations around the world, said Emmanuel Roux, INTERPOL’s special representative to the UN INTERPOL works to facilitate police cooperation around the world.
“Organisations such as al-Qaeda, Aum Shinrikyo (Japanese doomsday cult), and other extremist groups have, in the past, expressly announced their intention backed by real attempts to develop, acquire, and deploy weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations,” he told the Council.
Roux said the threat of WMDs is more imminent than ever because terrorist organizations have become more complex, with more movement of fighters across borders in recent years, giving them more access to recruits who have expertise in WMDs.
For example, he said that in 2014 INTERPOL seized an Islamic State group laptop owned by a Tunisian chemistry and physics student that contained a 19-page document on how to develop biological weapons. The document also included instructions on how to test the weapons on mice.