skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 192367 Find in a Library
Title: Defending America: Redefining the Conceptual Borders of Homeland Defense: Terrorism, Asymmetric Warfare and Chemical Weapons, Final Draft
Author(s): Anthony H. Cordesman
Date Published: February 14, 2001
Page Count: 70
Sponsoring Agency: Ctr for Strategic and International Studies
Washington, DC 20006
Sale Source: Ctr for Strategic and International Studies
1800 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislative Hearing/Committee Report
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document focuses on chemical weapons as a means of attack on the American homeland.
Abstract: There are approximately 25 nations that are believed to be carrying out some form of state-sponsored chemical and/or biological weapons development, as well as at least 2 foreign terrorist groups. Chemical weapons are weapons of terror and intimidation as well as a means of producing casualties and physical destruction. The chemical agents that present a threat to public health are tabun, sarin, soman, cyclohexylmethylphosphonofluoridate (GF), o-ethyl-S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl-methylphosphonothiolate (VX), blood agents, blister agents, and pulmonary agents. Other more commercial agents include heavy metals, volatile toxins, explosive nitro compounds and oxidizers, and flammable industrial gases and liquids. Many forms of lower-level chemical weapons attacks might do no more or less damage than attacks using conventional weapons. It is an illusion that the effects of chemical weapons are always radically worse or more repellant than the damage done by conventional weapons. Most chemical weapons are not easy to handle or deliver, and even nerve gas has to be used in large amounts to achieve high levels of coverage and lethality. Chemical weapons can impose serious problems in terms of detection. The domestic production of weapons will probably only be detectable by receiving a warning through human intelligence, or tracing the flow of key equipment and ingredients which maybe legally and physically impossible. The problems in developing effective interception, defense, and response measures can be compounded by using more than one group of attackers, and by mixing agents that require different kinds of protection and decontamination. Most terrorists will find it difficult to obtain the necessary chemical weapons, in the necessary amounts, and develop an effective delivery system or device. Chemical weapons are the weapons of mass destruction that most first responders and law enforcement agencies feel they are best prepared to deal with. However, serious response problems could occur if a chemical attack should be conducted in enough volume to cover a large area. 3 tables, 3 charts
Main Term(s): Chemical irritants; Domestic Preparedness; Hazardous substances or materials
Index Term(s): Decontamination; Domestic terrorism; Explosives; Incendiary devices; Poisons and poison analysis; Terrorist weapons; Weapons
Note: Download December 23, 2001
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.