Ben Wallace close up 220920 CREDIT PA
Politics

Defence Secretary: 'Growing Threat' Of Chemical Attack

Ben Wallace told The Times the internet provides a "turbo boost" to extremist groups and nation states looking to develop such weapons.

Ben Wallace close up 220920 CREDIT PA

The Defence Secretary has warned there is a "growing threat" of international chemical and biological attacks, with some regimes willing to use such weapons on their own people.

Ben Wallace told The Times the attacks were "what happens in a sort of breakdown of world order" and expressed concerns that some states believed it was acceptable to use nerve agents and pathogens against opponents.

He added the internet had provided a "turbo boost" to extremist groups and nation states looking to research and develop such weapons.

"Globally, I think there is a growing threat of chemical or biological [attack]," he told the newspaper.

"It depends on what is at hand for people using the internet.

"It is unfortunately what happens in a sort of breakdown of world order where you see countries like Syria use it on its own people.

"There has been a worry that some states think it is acceptable to use that type of method to carry out or further their aims."

Mr Wallace's comments came during an interview at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down (Dstl), near Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Military personnel deployed to regions at risk of chemical or biological attack must undergo intense training at Porton Down (Picture: MOD).

He also referenced the use of a chemical nerve agent in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the city in 2018.

The UK accused Russia of carrying out the attack on the former Russian double agent and his daughter, which Moscow denied. 

The Defence Secretary said the attack in Salisbury demonstrated the need for more police officers to be trained to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

Dstl handles some of the most highly classified work protecting the UK's security interests and is one of Britain's biggest capabilities for handling dangerous pathogens.

As well as helping the UK battle coronavirus, the facility also helped decontaminate Salisbury following the suspected Novichok attack on the Skripals almost three years ago.

Last week, chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon wrote in a comment piece for Forces News that "Russia most likely has a biological weapons programme".

Cover image: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Picture: PA).