- Armament and disarmament
- Conflict, peace and security
- Peace and development
THOMAS STOCK, MARIA HAUG AND PATRICIA RADLER
1995 marked the 80th anniversary of the first use of chemical
weapons (CW) in modern history. Efforts continued to obtain the 65 ratifications
needed to bring the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) into force: there
were 28 ratifications in 1995 but an additional 18 are needed. By the end
of 1995 neither Russia nor the USA, the two major possessors of CW, had
ratified the CWC. The most realistic estimate for entry into force of the
CWC is the end of 1996 or early 1997.
The setting up of international machinery for the future
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague
progressed, as did the work of the Preparatory Commission, but agreement
is still lacking on issues such as those related to declaration and verification.
Some of these issues may be solved when 65 documents of ratification have
been deposited and it becomes clear which states will comprise the first
conference of states parties.
The debate continues on Article XI (economic and technical
development). The preparations for national implementation undertaken by
many states show strong commitment to the CWC. What is most needed is the
political will to solve the major remaining problems. There is still reason
to believe that the CWC can be implemented in an effective and efficient
The destruction of chemical weapons continued to be a major
problem, particularly in Russia. The Russian CW destruction programme faces
major financial problems even though Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and
the USA continue to donate funds and expertise. The Chemical Weapons Destruction
Act was introduced in the Duma in December 1995. Doubts remain as to Russia's
ability to destroy its stockpile within the timeframes envisaged in the
CWC. Both Russia and the USA must consider public opinion and environmental
concerns when destroying chemical weapons. The cost of CW destruction continues
to increase. The cost of destruction in the USA has grown to $11.9 billion
and in Russia to c. $6 billion.
The problem of old chemical munitions dumped at sea continued
to receive attention, especially in Europe, where concerns were raised about
the environmental impact of these weapons. In 1995 Japan officially admitted
that it had abandoned CW in China in World War II.
New information about the advanced state of the Iraqi biological
weapon (BW) programme demonstrated that a country can develop a sophisticated
offensive BW programme and keep it secret for years. Questions must be asked
about how Iraq kept its BW programme and the magnitude of its other weapons
of mass destruction programmes secret, despite four years of inspections
by the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM). The completeness and accuracy
of information supplied by Iraq about its CW, missile and nuclear programmes
are still being questioned. Until full declarations have been made, it is
unlikely that the sanctions on Iraq will be lifted. Under the plan for future
monitoring and verification, a detailed import and export control system
has been approved, to enter into force following the lifting of sanctions.
The dangers of terrorist use of CW or BW were given terrifying
prominence by the incident on the Tokyo underground system involving the
nerve agent sarin. There is still no clear explanation of the Gulf War Syndrome,
although studies in 1995 indicated that it is unlikely that it was caused
by Iraqi use of CW or BW.
Allegations of CW and BW use in 1995 were confined to disproved
or unsubstantiated incidents in areas that were difficult for experts to
reach, a pattern consistent with previous years.
Issues related to the strengthening of the BWC received
greater attention in 1995. The Ad Hoc Group of Experts considered various
measures to strengthen the BWC. Despite progress in developing provisions
to strengthen the BWC, it is doubtful that a verification protocol will
be ready for the Fourth BWC Review Conference in 1996.
CBW defence received increased attention from policy makers
and defence establishments in 1995. The world must contend with states and
individuals who may acquire and use these weapons. It is impossible to construct
a totally secure control system, but the entry into force of the CWC, the
strengthening of the BWC and effective national legislation will make it
more difficult for terrorists to manufacture, procure or use CW or BW.