Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Weapon of Mass Destruction Definition:

Device designed to kill humans through the use of atomic or nuclear energy or the release of chemicals, poisons, biological agents or radioactivity.

Related Terms: Weapon

weapon of mass destructionDavid Fidler wrote:

"[W]eapons of mass destruction is a term that generally encompasses nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, with radiological weapons occasionally included. Contemporary international legal analysis generally follows this conventional definition of WMD, even though neither treaty law nor customary international law contains an authoritative definition of WMD."

On April 28, 204, the United Nations Security Council enacted Resolution #1540 in which it indirectly defined weapons of mass destruction as nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The United States Code, at Title 18:

"[W]eapon of mass destruction means any destructive device ... (i.e. explosive, incendiary, or poison gas destructive device or bomb); any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors; any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector... ; or any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life."

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