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7. Chemical and biological weapon developments and arms control



I. Introduction

II. Chemical weapon disarmament

III. Biological weapon disarmament

IV. Allegations of CBW proliferation and use

V. CBW disarmament in Iraq

VI. Delayed toxic effects of the modern battlefield

VII. Conclusions


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The implementation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention moved into a new phase as the first treaty-specified milestones were reached on 29 April 2000, the third anniversary of the entry into force of the convention. The verification regime now includes new categories of facilities to be inspected. The transfer restrictions on Schedule 2 chemicals took effect in 2000 and, consequently, the non-parties to the convention are becoming increasingly isolated and excluded from economic transactions important to their economies. All four states which possess chemical weapons (CW)—India, South Korea, Russia and the USA—are now destroying them, although major technical and political problems remain.


It is highly uncertain whether the negotiation of a protocol to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) will be successfully concluded before the Fifth BTWC Review Conference in December 2001. The biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry has not been forthcoming with solutions that provide transparency while protecting their business interests. The current US administration also opposes the draft protocol in its current form.


Although the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) became operational in 2000, Iraq continues to refuse any cooperation under UN Security Council Resolution 1284, arguing that it has met all its disarmament obligations. The prospect for the resolution of questions about Iraq’s chemical and biological weapon (CBW) programme remains bleak because the international sanctions regime to force Iraqi compliance is continuously being weakened.


Claims that NATO’s use of depleted uranium contributed to the deteriorating health of a number of European peacekeepers who served in the Balkans raised new questions about exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxins on the modern battlefield.


The proliferation of CBW remained a concern in 2000. Despite strengthened international norms against CBW and the new transfer restrictions imposed by the Chemical Weapons Convention, some states appear determined to maintain major CBW armament programmes. Also of concern was the possible application of advancements in biotechnology to the development of biological weapons.