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"In the struggle to defend our people and values and to advance them wherever possible, we confront threats both old and new -- open borders and revolutions in technology have spread the message and the gifts of freedom but have also given new opportunities to freedom's enemies. Scientific advances have opened the possibility of longer, better lives. They have also given the enemies of freedom new opportunities... If we prepare to defend against these emerging threats we will show terrorists that assaults on America will accomplish nothing but their own downfall."

President Clinton
National Academy of Sciences
January 22, 1999

President Clinton has made defending the United States against chemical and biological weapons a top national security priority. The possibility that outlaw nations and terrorist groups will seek to use these weapons represents one of the greatest threats to American security in the 21st century. The Clinton Administration has sought to defend against these threats through diplomatic and military means abroad and through increased preparedness at home.


  • Signed three Presidential Directives to prevent, deter or combat Weapons of Mass Destruction terrorism at home and abroad.
  • Appointed the appointment of the first ever National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism to coordinate the United States Government's efforts to confront emerging threats against Americans at home and abroad.
  • Launched a five-year effort (funding started in FY 1997) to equip and train first responders in the 120 largest metropolitan areas in the country to prepare for and defend against chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
  • Directed $300 million in additional funds in 1998 to be spent for weapons of mass destruction preparedness. Among the initiatives were the renovation of the public health surveillance system so medical personnel can detect a biological weapons release early and save lives. In addition, the first ever civilian medical stockpile, containing necessary medication to treat those exposed to biological or chemical weapons, was established.
  • Led international efforts to secure universal adherence to and compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was ratified in 1997. American diplomats are currently working to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention with a new inspection system to help detect and deter cheating.
  • Led cooperative programs and activities aimed at reducing the threat of the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons material and expertise from the former Soviet Union.


January 1999

President Clinton delivers a speech on future national security/WMD threats at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

May 1998 President Clinton signs Presidential Decision Directive 62.
May 1998 President Clinton Establishes a National Coordinator for Security,
Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism.
June 1995 President Clinton signs Presidential Decision Directive 39.


Remarks by the President: "Keeping America Secure for the 21st Century," January 22, 1999.

Presidential Decision Directive 62, May 1998.

Presidential Decision Directive 39, June 1995.

Fact Sheet on Funding for Domestic Preparedness and Critical Infrastructure Protection.

Funding for Domestic Preparedness and Critical Infrastructure Protection.

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