Global Security: Non-Proliferation - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Letter to Mr Nicholas A Sims, Dr Brian FG Jones and Daniel Peakes

  Thank you for attending the evidence session held on 19 November to discuss biological and chemical weapons as part of the Committee's inquiry into Global Security: Non-proliferation. At various points during the session the Committee requested a note in further explanation of key points. I have listed these below. Secondly, as a result of divisions in the House, the Committee were unable to ask all the questions they would have liked and I would be grateful if, as you agreed at the session, you could provide answers to these additional questions in writing. Again, I have listed them below. We would welcome your responses to all those questions to which you can provide an answer, preferably before the House rises on 18 December.

Requests for notes on additional points

  1.  The Committee would be grateful for any further information that you could provide regarding the Al-Qaeda laboratory discovered at Kandahar, mentioned in Dr Jones's evidence and by Sir John Stanley when he asked Dr Jones "Can you tell us, from your background in government, what factors were driving al-Qaeda to believe that their laboratory work might end up with a usable biological weapon, which they could use against those parts of the world and individual countries of whose culture and behaviour they disapproved? From which sources were they able to get the basic expertise that they presumably required to get their laboratory going in the first place?". (Question 57)

  2.  The Committee would be grateful for further details of the UK chemical company Mr Feakes mentioned that was fined for an export "made either last year or the year before". This was in response to a question asked by Sir John Stanley regarding controls of dual-use items exported from the EU. (Question 75-76)

  3.  The Chairman requested further information on the following aspects of the Chemical Weapons Convention:

    a. Whether the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons possesses all the possible and necessary means of enforcement in relation to the Chemical Weapons Convention? What impact does the USA's Presidential Veto have on the authority of the inspection regime?

    b. Many signatories are yet to legislate in order to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention and some are yet to even designate a National Authority. What does this indicate about their intentions to comply with their obligations?

    c. Is the UK doing enough to assist in the destruction of chemical weapons stocks and aiding other States to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention? (Question 79)

  4.  Sir John Stanley requested a note on the status of defoliants and herbicides under the Chemical Weapons Convention and whether it would be permissible for these to be used as they were by the USA during the Vietnam War. He asked further for a view on whether "if it is merely in the preamble, is it a policy development that the British Government should press for when we come to the next review?". (Question 82-83)

Additional Questions for all witnesses

  1.  Once existing stocks are destroyed what will be the role of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Chemical Weapons Convention?

  2.  What practical steps should be taken to accelerate universal membership of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention?

  3.  Are there sufficient measures to deal with non-compliance with the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention?

  4.  What would be the likely success of a negotiated verification protocol which did not include the USA? Would this be a useful tool for the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and would it be achievable?

  5.  How effective is the UK's approach to the control of the expertise necessary to create chemical and biological weapons? Can incidents such as the 2001 anthrax attacks in the USA be prevented?

  6.  How effective is the Australia Group in preventing exports of materials for biological and chemical weapon production?

  7.  Is an informal forum such as the Australia Group the most effective way to go about harmonising export controls?

  8.  What are the prospects of an expansion of the Australia Group regime? Is this desirable?

  9.  Is the Proliferation Security Initiative sufficient to intercept smuggling of materials for WMD production or should additional measures be pursued?

  10.  Are the CWC and BTWC able to meet the changing threats that will arise as science advances, for example the development of incapacitating biochemical weapons?

21 November 2008

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 14 June 2009