Asia-Pacific Perspective on Bioweapons & Nuclear Deterrence

October 27, 2020
Richard Pilch and Miles Pomper

This article provides an Asia-Pacific perspective on biological weapons and their relevance to nuclear deterrence in the pandemic era. The entire class of biological weapons is banned by international law; however, biological weapons are generally less costly and less technically challenging to develop than nuclear weapons. Conversely, nuclear weapons are openly possessed by multiple countries in the Asia-Pacific despite their corresponding cost and technical complexity. These two types of weapons of mass destruction—biological and nuclear—do not exist in isolation but in a multifactorial geopolitical environment where the threat and control of one impact that of the other. A third factor that holds the potential to influence this dynamic is the increasing likelihood of natural outbreaks and pandemics.

This paper explores potential intersections of biological and nuclear weapons in the pandemic context. First, it describes the threat of biological weapons, including history, threat assessment methodology, and specific threats in the Asia-Pacific region. Next, it reviews options for biological weapons control. Finally, it discusses nuclear deterrence and escalation in the context of both natural and deliberate biological events. It concludes with a summary of key points and recommendations for regional security and stability.

Download the article, “Asia-Pacific Perspective on Biological Weapons and Nuclear Deterrence in the Pandemic Era”Keywords: Biological weapons, nuclear deterrence, pandemic era, Asia-Pacific

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