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13. Chemical and biological weapon developments and arms control




The legitimacy of the 1993 Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) continued to be strengthened during 1998 as additional
states signed and ratified the convention. At the end of 1998, there
were 121 states parties and 48 signatories. Moreover, 90 states parties
submitted their initial declarations to the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and 85 states parities notified
the OPCW of their National Authority. A total of 384 inspections in 28
countries were also carried out by OPCW inspectors. Progress in adding
a verification protocol to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons
Convention has been limited, but the success of implementation of the
CWC should serve to increase faith in the goal of universal disarmament
in the BW area as well.

The work of
the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) experienced serious setbacks
during 1998, culminating in the air strikes by the UK and the USA in
December. The difficulties between UNSCOM inspectors and Iraqi
officials in 1997 were carried over into 1998, characterized by blocked
access to facilities requiring inspection, disputes over the national
composition of inspection teams, and a general lack of cooperation by
Iraqi officials with respect to the requirements of UNSCOM inspectors.
The inability of UNSCOM to declare Iraq free from non-conventional
weapons meant that sanctions against Iraq would continue, despite the
opposition to such measures by China, France and Russia.


Appendix 13A. Benefits and threats of developments in biotechnology and genetic engineering



Concern about the proliferation and possible use of
biological weapons (BW) increased in the 1990s, and attention was given
to the history of BW development in offensive biological warfare
programs. The scientific and medical advances centred on the Human
Genome Project could bring great benefits to humanity. However,
developments in biotechnology will cause enormous social changes, and
the norm must be reinforced which promotes the peaceful use of the new
biotechnology capabilities but prevents their misuse in offensive BW
programmes. Both national and international medical associations have
warned that future scientific and technological advances could be

The 1972 Biological and Toxin
Weapons Convention (BTWC) does not restrain beneficial research
designed to achieve the kinds of medical advances, but its parties
undertake 'never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or
otherwise acquire or retain . . . . [m]icrobial or other biological
agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of
types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic,
protective or other peaceful purposes'. The urgent necessity now is for
the verification protocol to the BTWC, under negotiation in Geneva, to
be completed. Current indications are that an effective and efficient
protocol could be agreed before the Fifth Review Conference of the BTWC
in 2001. This would considerably strengthen the prohibitions embodied
in the BTWC.