Weapons of Mass Destruction

Authored by: James J. Wirtz

Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415507523
eBook ISBN: 9780203762721
Adobe ISBN: 9781134480296


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Although intelligence analysts have long identified weapons of mass destruction as an important issue for collection and analysis, the field of intelligence studies has not singled them out as a specific topic that requires a unique set of methodologies or concepts. The absence of a separate sub-field of study can probably be best explained by the fact that weapons of mass destruction forms a far-ranging issue when it comes to the practice and study of intelligence. ‘Weapons of mass destruction’ is a term that embodies nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and radiation dispersal devices (so-called dirty bombs) that have the potential of causing catastrophic levels of death and destruction. Intelligence analysts are most interested in discovering the size and capability of a competitor's weapons of mass destruction arsenal, the characteristics of associated delivery systems, and the nature of employment, deployment, declaratory and procurement doctrines that are linked to various weapons systems. Intelligence agencies often make the collection and analysis of intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction their highest priority, and develop sophisticated capabilities to understand the physics, biology and chemistry as well as the associated scientific, engineering, strategic and policy disciplines that contribute to the creation and employment of these weapons.

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