the case for cbrn security

CBRN risks and threats, natural, accidental or terrorist related, loom large on all nations of the world. These threats do not differentiate between developing or developed states. However, national priorities, level of poverty, economy and state of development, among other factors, would dictate the level of importance being given to accepting and addressing CBRN risks. Growing industrialisation and increased imports, coupled with lack of or non-stringent regulations, create huge gaps in securing these assets leading to a multitude of toxic threats.

​In most developing nations, issues such as poverty, waste management, lack of health infrastructure, conflict situations, unstable governments, lack of good educational facilities, inadequate safety measures and rampant corruption at all levels, are issues that multiply the risks and vulnerabilities. While some countries are well aware of the CBRN risks and related national vulnerabilities, situations within the country may inhibit adequate positive action towards risk mitigation. These situations may arise due to lack of basic education on CBRN related health, safety and disaster management matters, and more. Therefore, awareness of CBRN threats and risk mitigation measures is a necessity across all levels, creating an urgent need to educate and train all concerned stakeholders. 


Global movement of industrial material and chemicals has also added the issue of dual use goods. Un-checked and inadequately regulated cross border movement of toxic material and industrial goods poses a concern. Industries who deal, handle, or produce chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paints, dyes, plastics, adhesives, and the like, use many toxic chemicals - many of which do not follow industry standard safety measures, most due to ignorance, while some due to complacency and to save costs. The Bhopal gas tragedy (1984), uncontrolled radiological scrap disposal at Goiania, Brazil (1987) & at Mayapuri Delhi (2010) and the Tianjin port warehouse explosion in China (2015) are glaring examples. Some industries use rudimentary or outdated safety equipment not really fit for the purpose. There is a growing need to generate awareness and institute global best practices among such industries to ensure industries do not use rudimentary or outdated safety equipment that doesn’t fit the purpose.


Recent trends show enhanced interests of terrorist groups in CBRN material. Syria and Iraq are such flagrant examples where industrial grade toxic chemicals have been used to cause large number of casualties. Clandestine efforts surfaced like the attempt by Al Shabaab cadres (trained medical interns), were caught trying to stabilise animal extract Anthrax cultures in government hospital laboratories for transportation and use in European cities. The network of such operatives was found to exist in multiple countries within Africa, whilst reports of a smuggling network for radiological substances in the Central Asian region are prevalent as well.


Limited knowledge, complacent approach, and inadequate measures can lead to toxic disasters. To sum it all, every country, institution, and relevant stakeholder needs to be hands-on with awareness, policy formulation, capacity building and response regarding CBRN risk mitigation.

​That is where CheBiRaN consultancy can step in to help.