Proliferation: WMD Diffusion in Asia--Heading Toward Disaster
A survey of global proliferation trends reveals that Asia is the largest demand market for weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—nuclear, biological, and chemical—and their associated delivery systems and technologies. Three out of the world’s four remaining states suspected of possessing chemical weapons are in Asia; and all of the states with biological weapons programs may be Asian as well. Similarly, five of the current eight nuclear weapons powers are located on the continent, which is also home to the two other countries widely suspected of pursuing nuclear weapon programs—North Korea and Iran. Within Asia, fresh demand for WMD is concentrated in three sub-regions: the Korean peninsula, South Asia, and the Middle East. The intersection of mass destruction capabilities along with the rise of religious fundamentalism, political disaffection, economic disarray, and deep inter-state and intra-state conflicts in these sub-regions make Asia potentially the most disaster-prone region in the world.