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Understanding and Countering the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Introduction J. Scott Goldstein SAIC McLean, Virginia Gregory A. Hebner Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New Mexico One has only to glance at a newspaper to understand that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) represents an emerging threat to the safety and security of people around the world. The mere hint that a nation or nonstate organization is trying to acquire a WMD capability, be it nuclear, chemical, or biological, is enough to earn those groups penalties ranging from economic and political embargos to military action. Because of the significant threat to their populations and economic well-being, nations often feel forced to react, even if information on the nature of the threat is not clear or is incomplete. The enormous complexity of the challenge necessitates a multilevel approach that includes public policy and innovative technologies. The papers in this section address issues associated with understanding the reasons for, and adopting countermeasures to, the proliferation of WMDs. National policies and international diplomacy are both involved in creating an international environment that discourages proliferation and, it is hoped, elimi- nates the reasons nations may feel the need to acquire WMDs. The authors discuss national and international policy issues to frame the discussion and technical means, such as sensing platforms, that have been developed to provide timely 125

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126 FRONTIERS OF ENGINEERING intelligence on this evolving threat. Although these cutting-edge systems provide a wealth of information that can inform national policies and responses, gaps remain in our capabilities of observing, characterizing, and determining the intentions and motivations of other countries and nonstate organizations.