img Explainer

What are CBRNEs?
ONC Editorial

Nov 30, 2023

Explaining current regulation standards for CBRNEs.

According to DC Health, CBRNE is an acronym for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive. These types of weapons have the ability to create mass destruction and could foster the downfall of an entire civilization. 

Many of these weapons have been deemed illegal by international legal entities, although very little regulation and oversight exists to ensure that such weapons aren’t being manufactured. For example, while the Biological Weapons Convention prohibits the creation, distribution and use of bioweapons, no formal consequences exist to prevent and punish such activities.

There are five types of CBRNEs: choking agents, blood agents, nerve agents, blister agents and incapacitating agents. Each type targets a different human body system. For instance, nerve agents attack the nervous system, and choking agents attack the lungs and the respiratory system. The goal of these weapons is to shut these systems down in one way or another in order to kill or severely injure a target. 

Given the uniquely dangerous nature of such weapons and the possibility that they could be used one day, many governments have taken to preparing their populations for a potential attack. Governments continue to invest funds into research regarding both CBRNE and effective response measures. The U.S. government has a team of individuals who are dedicated to formulating an efficient plan in case of an attack. 

While CBRNEs are definitely powerful tools of political and war negotiations, many nations have taken public stances against them. Several nations around the world have committed to a no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons, and others claim to no longer be in possession of any biological or chemical weapons. 

Regardless of the amount of truth behind these claims, most governments have recognized the importance of stepping away from a war-ridden global dynamic and moving onto a pathway of diplomacy and peace. 

Niharika Emani is a sophomore at Lynbrook High School who hopes to pursue economics, business and politics in the future. She is especially interested in the intersection of macroeconomics and public policy, as she enjoys researching wealth inequalities, housing crises and corporate political influence. She also holds a diploma in piano and participates in Model United Nations activities.


“ASPR CBRNE Science.” ASPR, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8 Jan. 2018,

“CBRNE - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives.” CBRNE - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives,

“National Strategy for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Standards.” National Strategy for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Standards | Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security,

comments powered by Disqus

Video Site Tour


Subscribe to ONC Newsletter.