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Man Versus Microbe: The Negotiations to Strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (From Biological Weapons Proliferation: Reasons for Concern, Courses of Action, P 106-126, 1998, -- See NCJ-193965)

NCJ Number
Amy E. Smithson Ph.D.
Date Published
January 1998
21 pages
This essay details the attempts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention treaty, especially regarding verification procedures.
One reason for the lack of progress in creating a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was the lack of a formal position on the part of the United States. Since then, the biological weapons proliferation problem has gotten more complex. New technology has opened for those seeking biological weapons. The widespread presence of dual-use technologies, equipment, and materials promises to make monitoring the BWC much more difficult. Most, if not all of the research, development, testing, and production of biological weapons can be conducted indoors, shielded from satellite lenses and the eyes of spies. Advanced industrial equipment can quickly sweep away traces of biological agent that inspectors might detect. Given the difficulty of verifying the BWC, the task of drafting and implementing a verification protocol will be one of the most challenging ever attempted by the international community. New monitoring concepts and techniques will need to be considered. If Washington does not proceed expeditiously with research, trial inspections, and policy formulation, the United States may lose its opportunity to influence the content of a BWC protocol. Policy makers will have to lower their demands of what a BWC protocol must accomplish. The BWC protocol negotiations are part of a larger battle of man versus microbe. The world’s human and animal populations, as well as vegetation, are all vulnerable to germ warfare. All nations should equally fear the prospect of biological warfare. 69 footnotes