Supplementary written evidence from Nicholas
A. Sims, Reader in International Relations, London School of Economics
and Political Science
1. Once existing stocks are destroyed what
will be the role of the OPCW and the CWC?
The OPCW will then be able to devote its verification
efforts more single-mindedly to its permanent role of non-production
verification (NPV). This means making sure that all States Parties
are complying with their CWC obligations and not clandestinely
developing or producing CW by diversion from industrial or medical
or other non-prohibited purposes, or by masking it under the guise
of commercial or academic research programmes, or by secretly
modifying their armed forces' legitimate protective programmes
to offensive ones. Inspection of varying degrees of stringency
under the different Verification Annex regimes of the CWC should
then apply equally to all States Parties, irrespective of their
previous CW-possessor or non-possessor status. This is the "non-diversion"
aspect of the CWC as a permanent disarmament regime, something
which ought to have become more prominent since 2007 but
is now due to become apparent after 29 April 2012, the final,
extended, date for completion of destruction of the Russian and
I say "more single-mindedly" advisedly,
because of the possibility that the OPCW will have to revive,
alongside its permanent NPV functions, its time-limited functions
of verifying the complete destruction of stocks and keeping CW
storage and destruction facilities under inspection until then.
This could occur in either of two eventualities, which one might
call the "Albanian" and "Libyan" scenarios
respectively: (1) an existing State Party, which had joined the
CWC as a non-possessor, belatedly discovering hitherto overlooked
CW stocks under its jurisdiction and control; (2) a CW-possessor,
hitherto a non-party, deciding to ratify or accede to the CWC.
It would be up to the OPCW Executive Council to negotiate CW destruction
schedules individually in either eventuality, and the OPCW Technical
Secretariat under its Director-General to conduct the necessary
Up to now no State Party to the CWC has invoked
its provision for challenge inspection. A great deal of work,
not least from the UK, went into devising acceptable arrangements
for "iterative managed access" during the CWC negotiations
of the I 980s, and although these were regrettably watered down
by the USA in 1991 the challenge inspection is still the
most intrusive and politically-charged form of verification in
the CWC repertoire. It is essential that the OPCW maintains a
state of high readiness to mount a challenge inspection should
this provision ever be invoked. Practice challenge inspections
should continue after the destruction of existing stocks so that
preparations for the eventuality of challenge inspection do not
The CWC is, of course, not just about verification.
The other tasks in which the OPCW is already engaged will continue.
These include, for example, promoting national implementation
and universality of membership, through regional seminars and
in other ways, organising annual meetings of CWC National Authority
personnel, encouraging "peaceful uses" technical cooperation,
and standing ready to coordinate members' obligations to provide
assistance and protection against any incident involving use of
2. What practical steps should be taken to
accelerate universal membership of the BWC?
Since the Sixth Review Conference there has
been much greater transparency over progress towards universal
membership of the BWC. Successive Chairmen of the Meetings of
States Parties in 2007 and 2008 (Ambassador Masood Khan
of Pakistan in 2007, who wrote to the Foreign Ministers of all
the remaining non-parties on 29 October 2007, and Ambassador
Georgi Avramchev of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
in 2008) have reported on their correspondence and meetings with
the governments of non-parties and have grouped the individual
non-parties by perceived likelihood of ratification or accession,
from the imminent to the remote. This is a marked improvement
on the reliance on an unsystematic practice of occasional demarches,
and following up vague rumours of interest in joining the BWC,
which used to prevail. (It is to the credit of the UK and other
EU members, and of Australia, that the demarches to non-parties
had become more systematic in the run-up to the Sixth Review Conference.)
Since 2006 clear responsibility has been placed on the Chairmen
of the Meetings of States Parties for carrying forward the commitment
to promotion of universality, which they do on behalf of the States
Parties as a whole.
Accordingly, any practical steps to accelerate
universal membership should be coordinated with the Chairman (Ambassador
Marius Grinius of Canada) of the 2009 Meeting of States Parties
through the BWC Implementation Support Unit which was tasked in
2006 to assist the successive Chairmen with the promotion
Gradually the roster of States Parties to the
BWC is approximating more closely to that of the CWC. However
the BWC with 163 States Parties is still about 20 short
of the CWC despite having been in force 22 years longer (26 March
1975 as against 29 April 1997). It would be highly desirable
for this gap to be closed more expeditiously, bringing the BWC
roster up into the 180s like the CWC and leaving just the "hard
cases" which are party to neither treaty.
Seven of the eighteen UN member-states which
have never signed the BWC and have yet to accede are also fellow-members
with the UK in the Commonwealth: Cameroon, Kiribati, Mozambique,
Namibia, Nauru, Samoa and Tuvalu. The two of these seven where
the accession process was reported as being most advanced in August
2008 were Cameroon and Mozambique. Another Commonwealth member
(Canada) has the Chairmanship in 2009 and it would be good
if the UK could join Canada in persuading Cameroon and Mozambique
to complete their accession processes and the other five Commonwealth
members to start theirs. The most likely of these five to accede
according to the 2007 Chairman's report was Namibia.
Of the thirteen "signatories-only"
to the BWC, all of them UN member-states, only three are also
members of the Commonwealth, with Tanzania reported as further
advanced towards ratification than Guyana or Malawi. Again, it
would be good if the UK could join Canada in persuading Tanzania
to complete its ratification process and Guyana and Malawi to
start theirs. The unratified signatures date from 1972 in
the case of the two African countries and 1973 in the case
In my view the most important ratifications
to obtain are those of (in alphabetical order) Burma, Egypt, Somalia
and Syria; and the most important accessions, those of Angola
and Israel. However I am under no illusion as regards the difficulty
of persuading the last few "hold-outs" to join. Nor
am I aware (although the Committee may be) of any particular leverage
which the UK could exert in these cases.
3. Are there sufficient measures to deal with
non-compliance with the BWC?
No, but in their absence I see the first step
towards an enhanced compliance regime for the BWC as being to
develop the Accountability Framework recommended in paragraph
8.1 of my Memorandum for the Committee. The key decision
here needs to be taken by the Seventh Review Conference in 2011.
In the medium and longer term I advocate a stronger
institutional structure for the BWC, including the possibility
of negotiating a BWC-specific regime of verification in the 2020s;
but well short of that eventuality I would expect the BWC States
Parties on their current upward trajectory to grow in confidence
to deal more decisively with compliance issues. They can do this
through the existing provisions of the Convention: bilateral and
multilateral consultation under Article V, including the contingency
mechanism of Consultative Meetings, and the complaint procedure
involving the UN Security Council under Article VI.
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 BWC and would it be achievable?
In July/August 2001 the UK and other long-term
proponents of the strengthening Protocol then under negotiation
in the BWC Ad Hoc Group seem to have concluded that the answer
to the first question was none. A Protocol without the USA would
not be worth having. At the time, and since, I understand the
assessment was made that a Protocol without the USA would also
be a Protocol without Russia, China, India, Pakistan or Iran.
It may be significant that in 1997 Russia, China, Pakistan
and Iran had only ratified the CWC once it was certain that the
USA would ratify and thereby be obliged to subject itself to verification.
(India's instrument of ratification, like the UK's, had been deposited
earlier, in 1996.)
As for the future, I would expect the pharmaceutical
and biotechnology industries in EU and other Western countries
to raise strenuous objections to the "burdens" of liability
to inspections and compilation and updating of declarations, invoking
the perceived inequality of compliance costs vis-a-vis their competitors
in the USA and other non-participants in a new verification regime,
even if steps had been taken to reassure them against loss of
confidential proprietary information (a major issue in 1995-2001).
Whether their opposition would be insuperable is impossible to
estimate, but I can imagine governmental and parliamentary approval
for ratification of a verification protocol which the USA and
other key states were unwilling to join would be all the harder
to obtain in countries otherwise supportive of verification because
of these commercial considerations and the resultant lobbying.
Whether a negotiated verification protocol would
be a useful tool for the BWC with the USA is a question which
arises only if the long-established doctrine, held almost as dogma,
that the BWC is unverifiable begins to lose its grip on the US
political class. My view is that it could be useful, and achievable,
but only if designed to fit the BWC's distinctive needs (ie not
a straight copy of the CWC) and shaped in recognition of the BWCs
long history (ie not assuming tabula rasa). It would need to be
constructed around the limitations that (unless much has changed
by the 2020s) some of the BWC prohibitions are more evidently
verifiable than others, and certainty is seldom, if ever, attainable.
Moreover, it should be pursued only after the BWC has exhausted
all the latent potential for strengthening its treaty regime from
within which is contained within the Convention as it stands and
can be tapped through mechanisms developed within its review process,
such as those recommended in paragraph 8 of my Memorandum
for the Committee as policy points for the Seventh Review Conference
to be pursued with high priority. Until then it should remain
a long-term aspiration.
5. How effective is the UK's approach to the
control of the expertise necessary to create chemical and biological
weapons? Can incidents such the 2001 anthrax attacks in the
USA be prevented?
The key to effectiveness is the vigour with
which existing legislation is implemented the Biological
Weapons Act 1974 and the Chemical Weapons Act 1996. Beyond
that, and limiting myself to the biological side because the chemical
side benefits from a UK National Authority and Advisory Committee,
I support raising awareness of the BWC as part of the education
of life scientists and others in their social and ethical responsibilities
(a cause in which academic researchers in UK universities have
been among the most active pioneers in defining the need and laying
the foundations); developing codes of conduct (whom the Royal
Society has likewise been a pioneer); and the close monitoring
of all involved in biodefence research and development, including
threat analysis and protective programmes (although I have no
reason to suppose that internal controls have failed here as they
evidently did at Fort Detrick in 2001). All these are ways in
which the UK can demonstrate compliance with its BWC obligations,
bearing in mind that Article IV requires national implementation
of a stringency and rigour sufficient not just to prohibit but
to prevent BW activities occurring anywhere on its territory or
anywhere else under its jurisdiction or control, and that this
requires constant vigilance.
I am not complacent about threats from elsewhere
but the first responsibility of the UK, having renounced BW absolutely
and for all time, is to honour its own obligations and ensure
that no one here involves it in a breach of the BWC. The "rogue
scientist" scenario implicated in the US anthrax letters
is but one potential risk to be guarded against in a state of
vigilance which must also extend to the armed forces, industry
and the universities, the private and public sectors and non-state
6. How effective is the Australia Group in
preventing export of materials for biological and chemical weapon
I regret I am not competent to answer this question.
7. Is an informal forum such as the Australia
Group the most effective way to go about harmonising export controls?
I regret I am not competent to answer this question.
8. What are the prospects of an expansion
of the Australia Group regime? Is this desirable?
I regret I am not competent to answer this question.
9. Is the Proliferation Security initiative
sufficient to intercept smuggling of materials for WMD production
or should additional measures be pursued?
I regret I am not competent to answer this question.
10. Are the CWC and BWC able to meet the changing
threats that will arise as science advances, for example the development
of incapacitating biochemical weapons?
Legally I have no doubt that the prohibitions
in the CWC and BWC taken together are sufficiently comprehensive
to encompass future developments in science and technology. Both
treaties were drafted in conscious recognition of the need to
prohibit in advance the sources of future threats. Hence the importance
of the General Purpose Criterion which governs both.
On the subject of incapacitants, I observe that
neither the CWC nor the BWC is limited to lethal weapons in terms
of prohibitions on development (or production, stockpiling, acquisition,
retention or transfer).
But legal comprehensiveness, on its own, is
not enough. Both treaty regimes need to institutionalise collective
scrutiny, at frequent intervals, of relevant developments in science
and technology (S&T) so that new threats do not take them
unawares. There is a need for everyone to be kept aware at the
political and diplomatic levels of what is already covered at
the legal level. Then they can record, by consensus, agreed understandings
of definitions and implications of the two treaties, so as to
reassure the world that this legal comprehensiveness is fully
understood and reaffirmed. This is an important responsibility
of the States Parties, accountable one to another and to the world
at large, and drawing on the best S&T expertise at their disposal.
The CWC has the means to do this through its
Scientific Advisory Board which is a statutory organ of the OPCW
established, as a formal treaty body, under Article VIII paragraph
21(h) of the CWC. Article VIII paragraph 45 requires the
OPCW Director-General in consultation with States Parties to appoint
members of this Board (who serve in their individual capacity);
moreover, under the same paragraph 45 there is also provision
for "temporary working groups of scientific experts to provide
recommendations on specific issues" to be established by
the Director-General, as appropriate, in consultation with members
of the Board. This might be a good way of starting to address
international public policy questions over such matters as the
development of incapacitants and related classes of agent, preparatory
to establishing, with legal and diplomatic input added, the relationship
of the so-called "non-lethals" generally (including
herbicides and defoilants) to the CWC where uncertainties remain.
The BWC does not have an equivalent treaty provision;
such collective scrutiny as does take place is conducted only
once every five years, at Review Conferences, and up to now has
been inadequately handled even then because the conferences have
not been organised in such a way as to make time for systematic
consideration of the S&T papers produced individually by States
Parties or national academies of science or NGOs. In paragraph
82 of my Memorandum for the Committee I drew attention to
UK thinking since 1979 which has favoured a Group of Experts
with a Chairman and a Scientific Secretary, or a Scientific Advisory
Panel, in the service of the BWC States Parties as a whole; and
I urged that the Seventh Review Conference in 2011 should
be encouraged to mandate a Scientific Advisory Panel possibly
based on the UK 1979 model for the First Review Conference
which would advise the BWC States Parties, preferably through
the Annual Meetings of States Parties. This would meet the need,
recognised by the UK at least since 2001, for more frequent consideration
of S&T developments within the BWC than only at five-year
Although not a scientist myself I am aware of
a consensus among scientists supportive of the BWC and CWC that,
as science advances, convergences of chemistry with the life sciences
are likely to erode still further the accepted distinctions between
"chemical" and "biological" categories. Conceptually,
there is already a "mid-spectrum" area on any spectrum
of CBW agents. Does this matter? Overlap of coverage between the
two Conventions, for example in the case of toxins, should not
be cause for concern. It does not matter if something is banned
twice over. It does matter if something noxious falls between
the two and is not banned at all. At present (as stated at the
beginning of this answer) I have no doubt over the comprehensiveness
of legal coverage. But if others do have doubts, and can identify
the S&T areas in which doubts arise, then there could be value
in bringing together expert groups of BWC and CWC scientists to
examine the problem and make agreed recommendations. Comprehensiveness
of prohibitionswith nothing noxious falling between the
two Conventions could then be reaffirmed by the respective
Review Conferences (or, between Review Conferences, by the CWC
Conference of the States Parties in annual regular session and
the BWC Annual Meeting of States Parties if the "intersessional"
Meetings of States Parties are allowed a wider mandate in 2011).
16 December 2008