The 2023 Department of Defense (DoD) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Strategy outlines the Department’s guidance and approach to addressing the pursuit, development, and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Strategy accounts for the Department’s priorities and approach to integrated deterrence set forth in the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) and addresses the current and future security environment, including the pacing challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the acute threat posed by the Russian Federation. The ability of both the PRC and Russia to procure, develop, and deliver WMD has progressed since the release of the previous DoD CWMD Strategy in 2014, which focused on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations and managing risks emanating from hostile, fragile, or failed states and safe havens.
While the PRC and Russia present the principal WMD challenges, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) remain persistent regional threats that must also be addressed.
Iran as a Persistent Threat. It is assessed that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program at this time, but has the capacity to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear device in less than two weeks. Further, the United States assesses Iran to be noncompliant with its CWC obligations. For example, Iran has not submitted a complete chemical weapons production facility declaration to comply with CWC processes. The United States is also concerned that Iran is pursuing dual-use central nervous system-acting chemicals for offensive purposes.