WMD and the Arctic
Past national security decisions leave environmental and human health impacts that challenge the international community. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD), specifically nuclear and chemical weapons, have significant environmental and health effects in the Arctic. Improper WMD weapons disposal during the Cold War is an example of vulnerabilities now surfacing with Arctic warming. Decreasing sea ice cover means the global commons are expanding into the Arctic. Increased trade over new transit routes and competition for previously inaccessible resources makes the Arctic a contested area of strategic importance where the vital security and economic interests of multiple nations will collide. This competition includes both nuclear weapons states (NWS) and nonnuclear weapons states (NNWS), leaving the Arctic at sustained risk from WMD effects. Today is the opportunity to engage globally across government, academia, and industry for the Arctic's future to ensure that past and future WMD effects do not destroy this international resource.
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