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Countering WMD Threats in Iraq

The Department of State’s Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction ISN/CTR administers WMD threat reduction activities for Iraq in partnership with government, security, academic, public and veterinary health, and industrial communities.

ISN/CTR’s Iraq program secures chemical, biological (CB), radiological and explosive materials, dual-use equipment, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure to prevent their misuse by terrorists and other nefarious actors in Iraq in WMD attacks against the United States, U.S. allies, and U.S. interests abroad.

ISN/CTR’s efforts in Iraq align with and help implement U.S. national security strategies, including the U.S. National Security Strategy, the U.S. National Biodefense Strategy, and the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, among others.

ISN/CTR’s Iraqi stakeholders include:

  • Government ministries and agencies, both of the central Iraqi government in Baghdad (GOI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that have a role in chemical, biological and radiological oversight
  • Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government law enforcement entities and security forces
  • University and research faculties and departments handling potentially weaponizable chemical and biological materials and equipment
  • Facilities that manufacture, store, or distribute high consequence pathogens (HCPs), and/or weaponizable chemicals and their precursors
  • Chemical and biological academic, professional, and private industry associations
  • Chemical academic and industry associations that play a role in the promotion of global chemical management best practices
  • Agrochemical/pesticide and pharmaceutical sectors
  • International organizations with complementary WMD prevention missions

In fiscal year 2022 (FY22), ISN/CTR seeks to fund activities that support one or more these goals in Iraq:

  • Strengthen the ability of the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government to prevent, detect and respond to the misuse, exploitation, theft, diversion, or loss of WMD-applicable material, expertise, and equipment
  • Create a holistic, “one-Iraq” counter-WMD threat capacity through GOI and KRG multisectoral engagements with ministries, academia, private industry, and security forces
  • Improve coordination and interaction among Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government ministries and law enforcement, technical, medical, and first responder/first receiver communities on the detection and investigation of WMD attack plots
  • Improve communication between biological and chemical laboratory networks
  • Strengthen partnership and information sharing between public health, security authorities and other relevant sectors to facilitate coordinated WMD-attack response and attribution

Train Iraqi partners responsible for WMD attack prevention, detection, and response to:

  • Interdict dual-use chemical and biological equipment and materials
  • Address threats from rudimentary and easily accessible crude weapons (e.g., toxic
    gasses, radiological materials) to sophisticated chemical agents used on the battlefield (e.g., sulfur mustard)
  • Enhance the ability of institutions to track the types of WMD-applicable material (chemical, biological, and radiological as appropriate) in their institution
  • Enhance the security posture at vulnerable universities, laboratories, and other facilities housing dual use chemical, biological, or radiological materials or equipment including through the development or improvement of biosecurity and chemical security training programs, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and human reliability/insider threat programs
  • Ensure safe handling, storage, transportation, and neutralization/destruction of dual-use CB materials and waste
  • Improve capability of first responders and hospital emergency units to identify morbidities related to a potential WMD attack and contain further WMD spread
  • Develop and/or implement national and facility-level policies and programs to strengthen oversight of CB materials and related assets
  • Institutionalize CB security by engaging appropriate academic societies to require training in CB security as both a graduating and continuing education requirement
  • Strengthen radiological security practices within hospitals and the oil industry.

Support security of biological and chemical materials and related assets throughout the supply chain:

  • Conduct trainings on identifying and addressing insider threats at CB facilities and other institutions storing, transferring, or otherwise handling CB and explosive materials, such as personnel reliability programs and incorporating insider threat awareness into security forces training programs
  • Institutionalize “know-your-customer” programs at CB suppliers throughout Iraq, and encourage the incorporation of such stringent commercial review practices into local, regional, and national regulations and guidelines
  • Implement trainings to identify and mitigate physical and procedural security gaps, to include facility-appropriate vulnerability assessment methodologies, at CB facilities and other institutions storing, transferring, or otherwise handling CB and explosive materials
  • Install physical security upgrades at relevant facilities and institutions across Iraq to prevent unauthorized access to CB materials and related assets that could be weaponized, including neutralization protocols for high-risk materials

Prevent WMD attacks by promoting awareness of CB and explosive threats and adoption of threat mitigation best practices:

  • Promote the adoption of chemical security norms, management standards, and responsible use policies, such as Responsible Care® and employee vetting.
  • Enhance identification and mitigation of endemic, emerging, and re-emerging dangerous infectious disease threats caused by HCPs and pathogens with pandemic potential.
  • Encourage adoption of biosecurity norms, including improvements across ministries of relevant institutions’ biosecurity practices
  • Improve understanding of, and compliance with, relevant nonproliferation treaty commitments and UN Security Council obligations, including the Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention, and UNSCR 1540
  • Increase broad awareness of Iraqi biological and chemical security policies, programs, and best practice information as well as coordination among relevant ministries and security agencies

Develop innovative strategies and explore novel tools to adapt to the constantly evolving WMD threat:

  • Develop cost-effective, high-impact remote engagement strategies
  • Develop innovative tools and proposals to address new and complex challenges (such as mapping in-country laboratories and industrial plants that hold dangerous chemical precursors or HCPs)
  • Prevent chemical and potential biological casualties through enhancing incident command systems to improve chemical/biological security posture and counter terrorist groups.

Grant Award Information

Total available funding for this effort is anticipated to be $3,500,000. ISN/CTR estimates to make up to 30 awards in the form of Interagency and Cooperative Agreements, each with a 12 month performance period starting 1 October 2022. The funding is projected as part of the FY22/23 Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Activities Funds under the Foreign Assistance Act.

The following organizations are eligible to apply (both domestic and international):

  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Public and private educational institutions
  • For-profit organizations
  • Federally funded research and development centers
  • Public International Organizations

Countering WMD Threats in Iraq. Department of State Bureau of International Security-Nonproliferation. Funding Opportunity Number: SFOP0008431. Closing Date for Applications: Jan 31, 2022.

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