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16. Chemical and biological warfare developments and arms control

Contents

RICHARD GUTHRIE, JOHN HART, FRIDA KUHLAU AND JACQUELINE SIMON

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Summary

Events in 2003
included the first of a new form of annual meeting for states parties
to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the
first review conference of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),
as well as the establishment of an ad hoc cooperative mechanism aimed
at stopping the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological methods of
warfare: the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The year also
included the military occupation of Iraq and the renouncing of chemical
and biological weapons by Libya.

In
Iraq, 2003 began with inspections by the United Nations Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which continued until
inspectors were withdrawn in March and the country was occupied by
forces of the United States and the United Kingdom and their coalition
partners. The coalition then carried out its own search efforts. By the
end of the year no clear evidence that prohibited weapons existed at
the time of the attack had been made public. Questions were raised
about the reliability of intelligence assessments and the degree to
which these might have been politicized.

In
December President Muammar Qadhafi made a commitment to dismantle
Libya’s WMD, including its chemical weapon stockpile, following several
months of secret negotiations. This commitment includes the acceptance
of international inspectors in Libya. The decision to demonstrate
verifiably that Libya no longer possesses these weapons suggests that,
in some cases, maintaining a policy of ambiguity as to whether a
country possesses certain weapon programmes is less tenable in the
current security environment.

The
Libyan decision also suggests that ad hoc coalitions of like-minded
states acting on specific issues of concern to meet perceived threats
can be effective under certain circumstances. Conversely, the case of
Iraq has raised doubts as to whether ad hoc coalitions can be
sufficiently certain of the accuracy of their information. The actions
of such coalitions should be seen to be justified by the existence of
reliable information and not unduly influenced or driven by political
considerations. Otherwise there is a risk that the international
credibility of their actions will be fundamentally undermined.

The
first of the annual series of expert and political meetings of states
parties to the BTWC was held in accordance with the decision of the
reconvened Fifth BTWC Review Conference (held in 2002). These are
scheduled to continue until the Sixth Review Conference in 2006. The
focus of the meeting in 2003 was on national measures to implement the
convention’s prohibitions and the security and oversight of pathogenic
organisms and toxins. There is no consensus among states parties on the
extent to which efforts to strengthen the regime can or should be
carried out within other forums (e.g., the Australia Group, the PSI and
the World Health Organization) and the extent to which such efforts
should be pursued within the BTWC regime itself.

A
special conference of the parties to the CWC, held during the review
conference, took a final decision to implement a policy that limits the
tenure of employees in the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to seven years. The OPCW
also adopted a ‘plan of action’ to ensure that the parties have met
their obligations to put in place effective national implementation
measures.

The
parties to the CWC need to ensure that the OPCW’s institutional memory
and expertise are maintained as the new tenure policy is implemented.
The parties should also continue to take into account relevant
scientific and technological developments. If the OPCW does not
formally consider the applicability of CWC provisions regarding
non-lethal weapons or incapacitants and agree relevant policy
decisions, there is a risk that this issue will be decided on the basis
of implementation practice rather than deliberate policy.

 

Appendix 16A. The SARS epidemic: the control of infectious diseases and biological weapon threats

JAMES THUO NJUGUNA

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Summary

The rapid spread of
severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in early 2003 was perceived by
a number of governments as a challenge to security because of its
impact on their economies, including health care systems. The speed
with which SARS spread also contributed to concern about the potential
threat posed by biological weapons generally and the use of infectious
disease as a method of warfare in particular. The SARS epidemic is a
useful case study for evaluating national and international
capabilities to deal with disease outbreaks, both naturally occurring
and deliberate, including related implications for the BTWC.

 

Richard Guthrie
(United Kingdom) became the Leader of the SIPRI Chemical and Biological
Warfare Project and editor of the SIPRI Chemical & Biological
Warfare Studies series in September 2003. Previously, he was an
independent consultant dealing with defence and security issues with a
specialization in the control of WMD and was involved in a long-term
collaboration with the Harvard Sussex Program, where he was responsible
for production of The CBW Conventions Bulletin and for managing
certain data resources. He also edited or co-edited seven volumes of
the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC)
yearbook in 1991–97 and the VERTIC newsletter Trust and Verify in 1992–97, and produced the PPNN Newsbrief in 1989–2001. He is a co-author of Non-Compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention: Lessons from and for Iraq, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 5 (Oct. 2003).

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 Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies (MIIS). 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);
‘Biotechnology and the future of the Biological and Toxin Weapons
Convention’ (2001); and ‘Maintaining the effectiveness of the Chemical
Weapons Convention’ (2002). He co-edited Chemical Weapon Destruction in Russia: Political, Legal and Technical Aspects, SIPRI Chemical & Biological Warfare Studies No. 17 (1998) and is a co-author of Non-Compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention: Lessons from and for Iraq, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 5 (Oct. 2003). He contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2003.

Frida Kuhlau (Sweden)
is a Research Associate on the SIPRI Chemical and Biological Warfare
Project. 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 has contributed to the
SIPRI Yearbook since 2002 and is a co-author of Non-Compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention: Lessons from and for Iraq, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 5 (Oct. 2003).

Jacqueline Simon
(Canada) was a Researcher on the SIPRI Chemical and Biological Warfare
Project in 2000 and 2001. She was a member of the Secretariat to the
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 2001-2003. She is currently
employed with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Ottawa. She
contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook in 2001 and 2003.

James Thuo Njuguna
(Kenya) is a medical biologist and was a guest researcher at SIPRI in
the autumn of 2003. Previously, he worked as a researcher at the
Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute and for the
Kenyan Ministry of Health. He has written on the threat of biological
terrorism in East Africa and is a co-author of a number of publications
on human and animal trypanosomosis.

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