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Biological and chemical weapons have the potential to pose a national security threat to the United States that the country is ill equipped to deal with, a group of lawmakers and military leaders said Friday at the Aspen Security Forum.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic underscored how globally vulnerable and dangerous pathogens can be if deliberately engineered and released.

The big picture Army General Richard Clarke, commander of US Special Operations Command, said chemical weapons such as chlorine and mustard gas were used in 2014-16 by actors such as ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

What they’re saying: “There are weapons being developed and being developed today that are targeted at specific people,” said Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services and Home Resilience Committee. The Intelligence Committee told the audience.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who sits on the Senate Threats and Capabilities and Armed Services Committee, added that biological weapons can be dangerous if they are designed to target food systems rather than people.

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