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CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION BULLETIN

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FROM TRIGGER POINT TO ENTRY INTO FORCEIt is virtually certain that the Chemical Weapons Con-vention will be in force early next spring. Sixty-three stateshad deposited their instruments of ratification with the UNSecretary-General by mid-September and additional ratifi-cations are imminent. Article XXI states that the Conven-tion shall enter into force 180 days after deposit of the 65thratification. It is also sure that the United States and the RussianFederation, the two signatories with declared chemicalweapons stockpiles, will not ratify in time to be among thefirst 65 states parties. Nevertheless, both countries remainfirmly committed to the Convention and there is good rea-son to expect both of them to be on board when the treatyenters into force. In the US Senate, as the Convention finally approacheda vote on 12 September, there appeared to be well over thetwo-thirds majority needed for ratification. Then, presiden-tial challenger and former senator Robert Dole, who had notpreviously declared any view regarding ratification, sent alast-minute letter to the Senate Majority Leader praising theultimate goal of eliminating chemical weapons but settingdeliberately impossible conditions. The Dole letter facedmembers of his party who had been counted as supportersof the Convention with the prospect of either voting againstratification or rebuffing and embarrassing their own presi-dential candidate and recent colleague. In this situation, theWhite House found it prudent to seek postponement of thevote. The treaty remains on the Senate calendar but is un-likely to be reconsidered until next year.The outside world is familiar with the madness that setsinto US politics at the time of presidential elections and hasno option but to live with it as best it can. In order to bringconsideration of the Convention back to reality after elec-tion fever has subsided, senior US leaders in both major po-litical parties who understand that the treaty is in thenational interest will need to accord it the high priority itmerits and to speak out forcefully. In this, they can counton support from the US chemical industry, whose principaltrade association, immediately after the postponement ofSenate action, strongly reaffirmed its backing of the Con-vention. Then, when the Convention is finally put to a voteearly next year, the bipartisan support that was evident dur-ing two years of Senate committee hearings will culminatein its ratification. In the Russian Federation, President Yeltsin’s govern-ment has consistently supported the Convention. Neverthe-less, the Convention has not yet been presented to theDuma, and the elimination of Russian chemical weapons isnot yet underway. Among the problems delaying ratifica-tion, the principal one appears to be the high cost of safelydestroying that massive stockpile. The chemical demilitari-zation program adopted in March by the Russian govern-ment, authorization for which is pending before the Duma,is estimated to require $3.3 billion. The US has allocated$68 million from its Cooperative Threat Reduction Pro-gram, and planning has begun for US–Russian collabora-tion to build a large demilitarization facility at Schuchye,based on the two-step Russian technology for neutralizingorganophosphorus nerve agents. Other countries, amongthem Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, are providingfinancial assistance or technical collaboration. Clearly, thepace of chemical demilitarization and ratification in Russiais related to the provision of outside assistance. In contrast to the delay in ratification by the US andRussia, it is impressive that nearly all of the world’s otherlarge chemical producers have already ratified. There are,however, several non-ratifying signatory states whose par-ticipation in the Convention is particularly important for in-ternational security. These include China, Iran andPakistan. And there are a few important states that are noteven among the 160 that have signed the Convention. Forsome non-signatory states in the Middle East, participationin the Convention may have to await progress in regionalnuclear arms control and the Mid-East peace process. Butonce the Convention enters into force, as it soon will, theincentives it will create for joining and its penalties for stay-ing out, together with the political force inherent in its largenumber of states parties, will help drive the Conventioneven closer toward the universality to which it ultimatelyaspires.CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION BULLETINNews, Background and Comment on Chemical and Biological Warfare IssuesISSUE NO. 33 SEPTEMBER 1996Quarterly Journal of the Harvard Sussex Program on CBW Armament and Arms LimitationEditorial 1Historical Note no 2, by Benjamin C Garrett 2–3Guest Article by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg 4–7Progress in The Hague: 15th Quarterly Review 7–12News Chronology: May–August 1996 13–35CWC Ratifications 33Forthcoming Events 34Recent Publications 35–36Historical Note no 2 Benjamin C GarrettThe Colorado Potato Beetle Goes to WarOn 17 September 1940, Germany’s Surgeon Gen-eral received a report of an inspection of certainPoudrerie Nationale laboratories in Le Bouchet, France.That report became the basis for a German biologicalwarfare programme — one that would eventually enlistthe Colorado potato beetle in the war effort.1After the June 1940 fall of France, occupying Ger-man forces dispatched a team to inspect the Le Bouchetlaboratories. German military intelligence had pre-viously identified four of these laboratories as possiblyharbouring some sort of BW research programme. Theinspection team included Professor H Kliewe, a formerdirector of Giessen University’s Diagnostic Laboratoryfor Infectious Diseases. Kliewe’s inspection revealedwhat he considered to be evidence of biological warfarepreparations. This evidence included microphoto-graphs showing metal fragments surrounded by anthraxorganisms; laboratory reports on the simultaneous useof chemical warfare agents and pathogens; and other re-ports on the behaviour of various pathogens.Believing there had been close liaison between theFrench and the British before the fall of France, the Ger-mans concluded that the British considered BW promis-ing. Kliewe would later tell American interrogators“[w]e learned for the first time how promising theenemy considered this field”. For the Germans, thisconclusion was sufficient to warrant more attention todefensive preparations


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