Weapons of Mass Destruction or WMD are weapons designed to kill a large number of people. WMD production begins with research and development among persons with highly specialized scientific and technical training. This requires a location and resources to employ such persons with know-how to build production facilities of WMD. Once a location, resources, know-how and production facilities are employed, stockpiles can be built. While production facilities and the human know-how to manufacture WMD are necessary for their creation, according to U.S. Law, those factors exclusively are not considered weapons of mass destruction.
Know-how is the most dangerous aspect of WMD in today's world; persons who receive classroom training in these specialized techniques can travel anywhere in the world where location and resources may be available to produce WMD. Also, communicating the know-how, a potentially lethal weapon to large numbers of people, is largely unregulated in some parts of the world. There are United Nations Treaties which have attempted to regulate the spread of know-how throughout the world, but it is still possible for a person with know-how to communicate their knowledge how to manufacture WMD to anyone, without the signatory of the International agreements who holds their place of citizenship knowing of the illegal transfer or being able to stop it.
The international scientific community of technicians with knowledge to teach and manufacture weapons of mass destructions likewise consist of independent persons, some with no national loyalties to the nations who have signed international agreements barring the spread of WMD, i.e. the know-how, potential "dual use" technologies, or the end manufactured result. A young person trained today, in an al-Qaeda training camp, in the methods of producing stockpiles of WMD, has an entire lifespan to communicate his knowledge to whomsoever he pleases. And a persons political or ideological views can change over a lifetime. In the old Soviet system, scientists were often retired to special Gulags apart from the rest of society, so as there would be no chance they can reveal the potential lethal know-how to unauthorized persons.
One of the most troubling aspects of the War on Terror is understanding that scientific knowledge itself has become a weapon in the hands of dangerous persons against innocent people.
In times of crisis, the habit has been to call upon our best, brightest and most talented individuals to find solutions. This usually in the past meant scientists and technicians; now we have discovered in the War on Terror knowledge itself has become a dangerous thing, and new gadgets and technology cannot defeat terrorist cells who do not wear the easily identifiable military uniforms as is custom throughout the Western world. In fact, we've discovered past scientific and technical solutions in warfare now threaten the civil populations of the nations that discovered and built them. Knowledge indeed is a weapon.
Types of WMD
Weapons of mass destruction were defined by the U.S. military, as late as the 1980s, as nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons (or NBC) designed to kill large numbers of personnel or civilians with a single device. Radiological weapons are now also considered WMD.
The phrase "Weapons of Mass Destruction" can be traced as far back as 1937, in reference to the aerial bombing of Guernica, Spain, during the Spanish Civil War.
Saddam Hussein and WMD
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek and Libyan Socialist General Secretary Muammar Gaddafi in negotiations with Saddam Hussein relayed a message through Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush that Saddam would be willing to avoid removal by force and voluntarily go into exile, provided Saddam was allowed to take $1 billion and "all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction."  While no WMDs were found in Iraq, the program for such was discovered to be in place, and there is speculation that they were exported to neighbouring countries before the war. Plus, Saddam was given twelve years to fulfill UN resolutions regarding WMD, which he refused, evaded and kicked-out weapons inspectors.
|“||In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.||”|
- Saddam Risked His Life for WMD Secrets, WeeklyStandard.com. Spetember 29, 2007.
- Scoop for Spanish Daily: Transcript of Private 2003 Bush Talk Promising Iraq Invasion, Editor & Publisher, September 26, 2007.
- Report Says Hussein Was Open To Exile Before 2003 Invasion, He Is Said to Have Sought $1 Billion and Information on Arms, By Karen DeYoung and Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post, September 27, 2007; Page A17.
- Llegó el momento de deshacerse de Sadam, El Pais, 26/09/2007. (In Spanish).
- Report holds out the possibility that WMD may still be found...one day The Telegraph. July 14, 2004
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), October 10, 2002. Retrieved from Zmag.org December 4, 2007.