Conceptual Introduction to Weapons of Mass Destruction

In this guest lecture for the first-year undergraduate subject States, Security and International Relations at La Trobe University, I provide a conceptual introduction to the concept of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).  The lecture begins with an introduction of the three categories of WMD, outlining their impact as weapons and their strategic purposes, along with how their use if governed internationally. I also evaluates the risk of use for each category of WMD.

I would like students to come away from this lecture meditating on four questions:

  1. Is “WMD” a useful umbrella term for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?
  2. Which type of WMD is the biggest risk to international security, as opposed to the security of individuals?
  3. How serious is the risk posed by WMD use by non-state actors?
  4. What is the WMD risk to Australia?

Thank you to States, Security and International Relations subject coordinator Dr Daniel Bray for the invitation to present this lecture and to the student group for their warm reception.


Further Information:

Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Chemical Weapons Convention.

Biological Weapons Convention.

Habib, B. (2011) ‘North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program and the Maintenance of the Songun System’, The Pacific Review, 24(1): 43-64.

Habib, B. (2010) ‘Rogue Proliferator? North Korea’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle & its Relationship to Regime Perpetuation‘, Energy Policy (38) 6, 2826-2834.

Habib, B. (2013). “North Korea’s ‘rational’ belligerence.” Asian Currents. June 2013 (90). pp. 18-21.

Habib, B. (2012). “N. Korea shouts ‘look at me’ with rocket.” 12 December 2012.

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