1 September 2011

Managing networks of risk: A tailored approach to Iran’s biological warfare threat potential

Kirk C. Bansak

Bansak is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Formerly, he was a research associate in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program...

Efforts to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons could provoke dangerous reactions, including the country’s pursuit of other unconventional weapons systems. Owing to its highly developed pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, Iran has the technical capabilities for one such system—biological weaponry—within its grasp. It is unclear whether Tehran has already begun a biological weapons program, but the Iranian threat is grave enough to warrant serious consideration of a rigorous biological nonproliferation strategy that could be implemented in parallel with nuclear nonproliferation efforts. That strategy should be tailored specifically to Iran and focused on three sets of factors: those that facilitate proliferation, those that motivate proliferation, and those that shape the parameters according to which proliferation occurs.