Weapons of Mass Destruction

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 4th January 2018.

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Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have in place to monitor nuclear, biological and chemical weapons risks, and to advance the reduction of such risks.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The Government assesses the most significant risks facing the UK over the next five years, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons risks, through the National Risk Assessment (NRA) and the National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA).

In order to assess these risks, Government works with the intelligence community to gather information about the intent and capability of potential adversaries, the types of materials of concern and information about potential targets. The risk assessment processes provide Government department and agencies with the information required for them to take action to address these risks. The 2017 National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies, the public version of the NRA, is attached to this answer and a copy has also been placed in the House of Lords Library.

A summary of the NSRA was published in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, available online here, which helped to guide the government’s wider national security efforts. The sections on proliferation risk were also included in the National Counter-Proliferation strategy which can be found here.

The Government’s risk assessment is complemented by wider work under the UK’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST). CONTEST provides a Cross-Government approach, led by the Home Office, aimed at reducing the risk to the UK and its citizens and interests overseas from terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence.

The use of nuclear, biological and chemical materials in an attack by terrorists remains significantly less likely than an attack with conventional weapons. Government prioritises efforts to stop terrorists gaining access to the technical expertise and specialist materials they would need, and to reduce the vulnerability of people and places to such attacks. Government also ensures the police and other emergency services have the necessary nationwide response capabilities to mitigate the impact of any such attacks.

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