The Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996 signed into law as Title XIV of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1996 contained a number of Congressional findings. Based on common statutory construction theory these findings are not part of the law but explain the need for the legislation. Sometimes the findings are incomplete or need further explanation but not in this instance IMO. Almost 16 years later they still seem highly relevant and here they are:
§ 2301. Findings
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Weapons of mass destruction and related materials and technologies are increasingly available from worldwide sources. Technical information relating to such weapons is readily available on the Internet, and raw materials for chemical, biological, and radiological weapons are widely available for legitimate commercial purposes.
(2) The former Soviet Union produced and maintained a vast array of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
(3) Many of the states of the former Soviet Union retain the facilities, materials, and technologies capable of producing additional quantities of weapons of mass destruction.
(4) The disintegration of the former Soviet Union was accompanied by disruptions of command and control systems, deficiencies in accountability for weapons, weapons-related materials and technologies, economic hardships, and significant gaps in border control among the states of the former Soviet Union. The problems of organized crime and corruption in the states of the former Soviet Union increase the potential for proliferation of nuclear, radiological, biological, and chemical weapons and related materials.
(5) The conditions described in paragraph (4) have substantially increased the ability of potentially hostile nations, terrorist groups, and individuals to acquire weapons of mass destruction and related materials and technologies from within the states of the former Soviet Union and from unemployed scientists who worked on those programs.
(6) As a result of such conditions, the capability of potentially hostile nations and terrorist groups to acquire nuclear, radiological, biological, and chemical weapons is greater than at any time in history.
(7) The President has identified North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and Libya as hostile states which already possess some weapons of mass destruction and are developing others.
(8) The acquisition or the development and use of weapons of mass destruction is well within the capability of many extremist and terrorist movements, acting independently or as proxies for foreign states.
(9) Foreign states can transfer weapons to or otherwise aid extremist and terrorist movements indirectly and with plausible deniability.
(10) Terrorist groups have already conducted chemical attacks against civilian targets in the United States and Japan, and a radiological attack in Russia.
(11) The potential for the national security of the United States to be threatened by nuclear, radiological, chemical, or biological terrorism must be taken seriously.
(12) There is a significant and growing threat of attack by weapons of mass destruction on targets that are not military targets in the usual sense of the term.
(13) Concomitantly, the threat posed to the citizens of the United States by nuclear, radiological, biological, and chemical weapons delivered by unconventional means is significant and growing.
(14) Mass terror may result from terrorist incidents involving nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical materials.
(15) Facilities required for production of radiological, biological, and chemical weapons are much smaller and harder to detect than nuclear weapons facilities, and biological and chemical weapons can be deployed by alternative delivery means other than long-range ballistic missiles.
(16) Covert or unconventional means of delivery of nuclear, radiological, biological, and chemical weapons include cargo ships, passenger aircraft, commercial and private vehicles and vessels, and commercial cargo shipments routed through multiple destinations.
(17) Traditional arms control efforts assume large state efforts with detectable manufacturing programs and weapons production programs, but are ineffective in monitoring and controlling smaller, though potentially more dangerous, unconventional proliferation efforts.
(18) Conventional counter-proliferation efforts would do little to detect or prevent the rapid development of a capability to suddenly manufacture several hundred chemical or biological weapons with nothing but commercial supplies and equipment.
(19) The United States lacks adequate planning and countermeasures to address the threat of nuclear, radiological, biological, and chemical terrorism.
(20) The Department of Energy has established a Nuclear Emergency Response Team which is available in case of nuclear or radiological emergencies, but no comparable units exist to deal with emergencies involving biological or chemical weapons or related materials.
(21) State and local emergency response personnel are not adequately prepared or trained for incidents involving nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical weapons or related materials.
(22) Exercises of the Federal, State, and local response to nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical terrorism have revealed serious deficiencies in preparedness and severe problems of coordination.
(23) The development of, and allocation of responsibilities for, effective countermeasures to nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical terrorism in the United States requires well-coordinated participation of many Federal agencies, and careful planning by the Federal Government and State and local governments.
(24) Training and exercises can significantly improve the preparedness of State and local emergency response personnel for emergencies involving nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical weapons or related materials.
(25) Sharing of the expertise and capabilities of the Department of Defense, which traditionally has provided assistance to Federal State, and local officials in neutralizing, dismantling, and disposing of explosive ordnance, as well as radiological, biological, and chemical materials, can be a vital contribution to the development and deployment of countermeasures against nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
(26) The United States lacks effective policy coordination regarding the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Over the next few months I will be giving a status report on this blog as to progress made by the federal Executive Branch in dealing with the underlying issues.