There are no global treaties to prevent a biological weapons attack, and the world is not adequately prepared to deal with one, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday.
Speaking to the Security Council in New York, Ban said that while multilateral agencies are in place to verify nations are not developing chemical and nuclear weapons, no such mechanism exists for biological agents.
"The impact and consequences of a biological attack on a civilian target could far exceed those of a chemical or radiological attack," Ban told the council.
He said recent serious outbreaks of Ebola in Africa, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and yellow fever have made him "very concerned."
Ban urged the Security Council to look at ways to strengthen Resolution 1540, which set up barriers to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of "non-state actors" — a diplomatic term for terrorists.
But he recognized that technological advances have made producing and using weapons of mass destruction easier.
"Vicious non-state actors that target civilians for carnage are actively seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons," he said.
Ban reminded the diplomats that eliminating all weapons of mass destruction was one of the founding purposes of the United Nations in 1945.
"I call on all states to focus on one overriding truth — the only sure way to prevent the human, environmental and existential destruction these weapons can cause is by eradicating [ them ] once and for all."
He called old Cold War arguments that superpowers used to justify possessing such weapons "morally, politically and practically wrong 30 years ago, and they are wrong now."