C, B, R, or N: The Influence of Related Industry on Terrorists’ Choice in Unconventional Weapons


Which factors, given that a terrorist has crossed the threshold into unconventional over conventional weapons, will determine the likelihood that he/she chooses to use C, B, R, or N weapons? In particular, is it true that the more readily CBRN technology, materials, and knowledge are accessible to terrorists, the more likely terrorists will be to use unconventional weapons of the corresponding kind (i.e. the technological determinism argument)? Is there a positive relationship between states’ regulatory capacity and terrorists’ use of those CBRN agents that are most difficult to regulate? Do variables previously identified as significant determinants of CBRN over conventional terrorism also predict among C, B, R, or N?

The assumption of technological determinism for CBRN underlies Canadian policy, but it has not been empirically tested. If untrue, efforts to control substances and technological information in areas of high CBRN industrial and scientific productivity may unnecessarily constrain industry and research, add regulatory burdens on government and ultimately be futile in reducing the CBRN terrorism risk.

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Research Area(s):

Security and Counterterrorism

TSAS WP13-01

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