The prevention of Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks (CBRN) is evolving within NATO. Originally, NBC stands for a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon. With the rise of terrorism, the term “radiological” was added to refer to the release of radioactive contaminants, including a radiological bomb or dirty bomb (different from a nuclear bomb). It is termed CBRN or NRBC according to the official NATO terminology. These unconventional weapons are classified as “mass destruction” because their effects are difficult to control and their ability to spread in the environment.
Reinforcing protection against CBRN threats in the area of detection, analysis and intervention is one of the priorities highlighted in the latest NATO Annual Report. NATO itself is very active in the field of research and the establishment of means of protection, detection and decontamination.
The declaration of the Prague NATO Summit, approved on 21 November 2002, originally endorsed the implementation of five nuclear, biological and chemical weapons defense initiatives in order to strengthen the defense capabilities of the NATO Alliance against weapons of mass destruction. The summit confirmed the creation of a battalion of soldiers from several countries, on alert for a period of six months, as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). The personnel appointed to form the battalion remain based in their home country and meet for training and deployment. The air forces component supports the deployment of the batallion, protect it and to search for evidence during and after a CBRN attack.
NATO organised special exercises, such as Volcanex in Zaragoza, Spain, or Precise Response, in Canada to unify the NRBC teams of each NATO member and to harmonize the procedures.