Thursday, July 26, 2007

History of American Policies, Part I: The CWC

Russia is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which calls for the total destruction of all chemical weapons by April, 2007. Russia has received an extended deadline until 2012 but is unlikely to meet it; the General Accounting Office (GAO, since renamed the Government Accountability Office) estimates that Russia will not complete the destruction of its chemical weapons until 2027. Even if Russia is proceeding in good faith and with due speed towards the destruction of her chemical weapon stockpiles, this process takes time, as the US is discovering; the Department of Defense estimates that American stockpiles will not be destroyed until 2023. Throughout this process destruction facilities and transport systems remain targets for theft.

Dr. Amy E. Smithson testified that
In December 2002, Russia began destroying mustard gas at its Gorny storage site. Russia also declared 24 production facilities to the CWC’s international inspectorate, of which six have been destroyed and another seven converted to peaceful uses under the watchful eye of inspectors.
However, these conversions are not quite the good news they appear to be. Because of the dual-use nature of biological and chemical weapons, many of the materials and technologies employed in these “peaceful use” facilities have potential use as weapons. Furthermore, scientists employed in these fields continue to exercise skills which can later be applied to C/BW again.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

The dual-use quality of C/BW explains why attempts at finding alternative work for C/BW scientists is often a red herring. The 2007 CTR Report to Congress states that “DoD works with institutes and scientists previously involved in BW research to employ them in peaceful research focusing on investigating dangerous pathogens for prophylactic, preventive, or other peaceful purposes” (37). While this may help reduce the chances that an unemployed scientist will sell his knowledge to terrorists, it does not take away from his knowledge of the field but actually adds to it. Nor does it guarantee that he might not accept a better offer from a terrorist organization in the future.