Biodefense Policy Seminar Wrap Up: Part 1

All Biodefense Policy Seminar events for Fall 2014 have concluded. Please enjoy a summary of the October 2014 event and join us for our Spring 2015 series. 

Carus and Caves

On Wednesday, October 22, Dr. W. Seth Carus and John P. Caves, both of the National Defense University, were speakers at the George Mason University Biodefense Policy Seminar on the topic of “The Future of Weapon of Mass Destruction in 2030.” Based on their 2014 paper of the same name, Carus and Caves investigate the possible nature and roles that WMD may play sixteen years from now.

In 2030, Carus and Caves argue, nuclear weapons may play an even larger role than they currently do. They anticipate that more states—for example, Japan and South Korea—could develop a nuclear arsenal in order to safeguard their own security. Proliferation isn’t the only threat that nuclear weapon pose, however. Carus and Caves also highlighted the potential for governments to lose physical control over existing weapons.

Furthermore, they said that the absence of current WMD terrorism is caused more by a lack of intent rather than lack of ability. Regarding chemical and biological weapons, Carus and Caves argue that these weapons could be more attractive in 2030 if the weapons have perceived military value, though they offer very little deterrent value.

In terms of U.S. policy, the speakers said that the United States should respond strongly to violations of WMD norms to deter proliferation. They also warned that if U.S. allies doubt the security guarantees of the United States, they may see developing their own weapons as the only surefire way to protect themselves in a multipolar world. Therefore, the United States needs to reinforce the strength of its security guarantees to prevent weapons proliferation among its allies.

So, should we be worried? Carus and Caves said that there will be a greater scope for WMD terrorism in 2030 thanks to new dual-use technologies that could make it easier to assemble, acquire, and deploy chemical or biological weapons. Moreover, the definition of WMD could change by 2030, beyond the traditional CBRN group, to include nanotechnology or cyber warfare. Overall, the speakers said that WMD in 2030 is likely to present a high consequence, low probability threat, but the danger of wider proliferation and increased use is still very real.

Mark Your Calendars: October 2014 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Title: The Future of Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2030
Speakers: John P. Caves, Jr. and Dr. W. Seth Carus
Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm; food will be served at 7:00pm
Location: Merten Hall 1202, George Mason University, Fairfax Campus

Nuclear weapons are likely to play a more significant role in an increasingly multipolar global system, and technological advances will enable new forms of chemical and biological weapons. The proliferation and use of these weapons could be harder to prevent. To discuss the impact of technological change and the evolving geopolitical environment on the future of weapons of mass destruction, this Biodefense Policy seminar will feature John P. Caves, Jr., and Dr. W. Seth Carus of the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at National Defense University.

October BPS CavesJohn P. Caves, Jr., is the Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University. He joined the Center in 2003, where nuclear and chemical weapons matters have been the principal focus of his work. Prior to joining the Center, Mr. Caves served as the Deputy Director for Counterproliferation Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). From 1997 to 1999, he was the Country Director for Turkey, Spain, and Cyprus in the Office of European Policy, OSD. From 1986 to 1997, he served in a variety of positions within the Defense Security Assistance Agency and in the Office of the Defense Adviser, U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

October BPS CarusDr. W. Seth Carus is a Distinguished Research Fellow in the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at NDU. His research focuses on issues related to biological warfare, including threat assessment, biodefense, and the role of the Department of Defense in responding to biological agent use. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. Carus was detailed to the Office of the Vice President, where he was the Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Biodefense. Before assuming that position, he was on the staff of the National Preparedness Review commissioned to recommend changes in homeland security organization and support the Office of Homeland Security while it was being established. Prior to joining NDU, Dr. Carus was a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, a member of the Policy Planning Staff in OSD Policy, and a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The Biodefense Policy Seminars are monthly talks focused on biodefense and biosecurity broadly conceived. Free and open to the public they feature leading figures within the academic, security, industry, and policy fields.