Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Review - Chemical Terrorism Threats Report

The National Academies Press has released a pre-publication version of Consensus Study Report commissioned by the Department of Defense on “Chemical Terrorism: Assessment of U.S. Strategies in the Era of Great Power Competition”. Mandated by §1299I, Assessment of weapons of mass destruction terrorism, of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (134 STAT. 4011, PL 116-283), the study is “focused on identifying the most important technical, policy, and  resource gaps with respect to strategies for identifying, preventing, countering, responding to,  and budgeting for chemical threats and attacks against U.S. interests.” (pg 15)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee was charged with addressing “the adequacy of strategies to prevent, counter, and respond to chemical terrorism, and identify technical, policy, and resource gaps” with respect to:

• Identifying national and international chemical risks, and critical emerging threats,

• Preventing state-sponsored and non-state actors from acquiring or misusing the technologies, materials, and critical expertise needed to carry out chemical attacks, including dual-use technologies, materials, and expertise,

• Countering efforts by state-sponsored and non-state actors to carry out such attacks,

• Responding to chemical terrorism incidents to attribute their origin and help manage their consequences,

• Budgets likely to be required to implement effectively such strategies, and

• Other important matters that are directly relevant to such strategies.

As one would expect with any study on counter chemical terrorism in the United States commissioned before July 27th, 2023, this report includes specific discussions about the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program that expired on that date.

CFATS related discussions in the report can be found in sections on:

• Chemical Substitution,

• Insider Threat,

• Report Recommendations


While this document is an important discussion in it’s own right, it should also provide a serious, outsider perspective on the need to reinstate the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. It should be used to disabuse anyone of the supposed problem the CFATS program is duplicative and unnecessary. In fact, this report makes the point that the program should be expanded in its scope.


For more information on the CFATS discussions in the report, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - https://patrickcoyle.substack.com/p/chemical-terrorism-threats-report - subscription required.

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