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16. Chemical and biological weapon developments and arms control



I. Introduction

II. Biological weapon disarmament

III. Chemical weapon disarmament

IV. Use of chemical and biological agents for law enforcement and non-lethal weapon purposes

V. Disarmament of Iraq

VI. Anti-terrorism developments

VII. Proliferation allegations and past programmes

VIII. Conclusions


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In 2002 the USA and, to varying degrees, a number of other countries continued to shift their policies away from reliance on traditional multilateral arms control and disarmament regimes towards a greater emphasis on bilateral and regional efforts to ensure that national measures to criminalize the possession, development and use of chemical and biological weapons are undertaken. Attention was also focused on international activities such as the harmonization and strengthening of export control regulations, improving national and international disease surveillance, preparing for emergencies and response measures.


The extent to which the problem of possible terrorist attacks with chemical and biological weapons requires an intelligence and law enforcement response and the extent to which a military response is called for remain unclear. Many of the counter-terrorism activities against non-state actors are of a law enforcement and intelligence nature and have not been publicized. No suspects were arrested or charged in 2002 for the 2001 attacks in the USA with anthrax-contaminated letters.


The states parties to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention concluded the resumed session of the Fifth Review Conference in 2002. (The first session had been abruptly suspended in 2001.) The review conference agreed to hold expert meetings and annual meetings of the parties until the Sixth Review Conference convenes in 2006.


In early 2002 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the body that oversees implementation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), faced financial and organizational problems. However, the Seventh Conference of the States Parties (CSP), which met in October, took steps to ease these difficulties. In April the OPCW Director-General was voted out of office at a Special Session of the CSP. The CWC is now a well-established treaty and, for the first time, large-scale destruction operations are under way in all four declared chemical weapon possessor states.


The use of chemical and biological substances for law enforcement purposes received increased attention in 2002 because of new information about US non-lethal weapon programmes and the use of a chemical by Russia against Chechen hostage takers in a Moscow theatre in October 2002.


In September US-led pressure in the UN Security Council and elsewhere resulted in the unanimous adoption of a new resolution on Iraq and, as a result, inspectors of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) were allowed to resume the work of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM). There was disagreement in the Security Council on what evidence or behaviour by Iraq would justify military action and on what, if any, further UN sanction this would require. UNMOVIC executive chairman Hans Blix drew a distinction between Iraqi compliance on ‘process’ versus ‘substance’. The inspections therefore highlighted the problem of verifying compliance with the implementation of relevant UN resolutions in a country whose active and full cooperation was questionable.



John Hart (United States) has been a Researcher on the SIPRI Chemical and Biological Warfare (CBW) Project since 2001. Previously, he worked as an On-Site Inspection Researcher at the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) and as a Research Associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) Center for Nonproliferation Studies. In 1996–97 he worked as a Research Assistant on the SIPRI CBW Project. He is co-author of the SIPRI Fact Sheets ‘The Chemical Weapons Convention’ (1997) and ‘Biotechnology and the future of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention’ (2001). He co-edited Chemical Weapon Destruction in Russia: Political, Legal and Technical Aspects, SIPRI Chemical & Biological Warfare Studies, no. 17 (1998) and contributed to the SIPRI Yearbooks in 1997, 1998 and 2002.


Frida Kuhlau (Sweden) joined the SIPRI Chemical and Biological Warfare Project in 2001. She is co-author (with John Hart and Jean Pascal Zanders) of the SIPRI Fact Sheets ‘Biotechnology and the future of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention’ (2001) and ‘Maintaining the effectiveness of the Chemical Weapons Convention’ (2002). She contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook in 2002.


Jacqueline Simon (Canada) was a member of SIPRI’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Project in 2000 and 2001. She served in the Secretariat of the Fifth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 2001 and 2002. She recently completed a project ‘Managing unconventional threats in a new security environment’ for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland. She is currently assisting with follow-up to the Fifth Review Conference of the BTWC at the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, Geneva.

Dr John Hart