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Biological Weapons and Toxin Convention (BWC)

Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Pearson, Graham, S., “The Complimentary Role of Environmental and Security Biological Control Regimes in the 21st Century,” JAMA, Aug. 6, 1997, Vol. 278, No. 5.

  1. “Biological weapons are sometimes referred to as the poor man’s atomic bomb.”
  2. Aum Shinrikyo, BWC 4th Review Conference.

Japan, BWC


Enemark, Christian, “United States biodefense, international law, and the problem of intent,” Politics and the Life Sciences, July 19, 2006, vol. 24, no. 1-2, p. 32.

  1. Transparency, Ethics, Policy, Biodefense having paradoxical effect of increasing likelihood of attack, BWC

BWC, Law, Ethics, Biodefense


Kaliadin, Aleksandr, “In Search of an Effective Coercive Strategy to Deter Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Russian Social Science Review, Vol. 49, no. 2, March-April 2008, pp. 77-93.

  1. “The PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative) aims at keeping proliferators away from the materials necessary for developing WMDs and their delivery systems by monitoring the trade routes used for proliferation and intercepting suspicious cargoes.”
  2. “Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), believes that the ‘black market’ in nuclear technologies and materials has become a reality and exists outside the effective control of either the IAEA or the leading special services.”
  3. “(NPT) does not impose sanctions on member states …(BWC) also has no statement on sanctions …(CWC) were not designed to curb proliferation among nonstate structures.”
  4. “An essential flaw of the nonproliferation treaties is that they stipulate no mechanisms for the physical prevention of the activities they ban.”
  5. “The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its decision to support the PSI on 31 May 2004, on its first anniversary.”
  6. “(UNSCR) Resolution 1540, …helps establish the necessary legal foundations for PSI-related activities. …its key statements and its messages are in line with PSI’s principles.”
  7. “During the first half of the year (2004) PSI participants conducted ten exercises: five at sea, three in the air, and two on the ground.”
  8. “The highly sensitive information on which PSI operations must be based will demand a qualitatively new (and unprecedented) level of cooperation between Russian and U.S. state agencies.”
  9. “Russian … first greeted the initiative (PSI) with restraint, even with skepticism and distrust.” {further discussion on Russian perspective excluded}
  10. “Russia faces complex challenges in balancing the requirements to promote WMD nonproliferation against the need to develop the nuclear and other branches of industry that manufacture and export dual-use goods and technologies and to reassess its regional geopolitical interests.”
  11. “It is vital to Russia’s interests that its strategic stability not be undermined by its neighbors acquiring nuclear arms while Russia is reducing its own strategic offensive weapons–for economic and technical reasons, among others.”

PSI, NPT, BWC, CWC, UNSCR 1540, Dual Use, WMD, Russia


Millett, Piers, “The Biological Weapons Convention: Securing Biology in the Twenty-First Century,J Conflict Security Law, April 9, 2010.

  1. “The BWC has been working, in one form or another, for each of the last 19 years.”
  2. “From 1991 to 1994 interested States Parties examined the technical aspects of verifying compliance with the treaty. This led to a second process, which ran from 1995 to 2001, to develop a legally binding protocol to supplement the treaty with a traditional model arms control regime.”
  3. “Certain technologies (associated solely with prohibited activities) are banned and other resources (which can be used for both prohibited and permitted purposes) are regulated.”
  4. “The majority of technology (for example, chemicals in the case of chemical weapons) falls outside the regime and remains unregulated.”
  5. “It should also be noted that these regimes do engage in some degree of human-centric activities designed to develop ethical, moral and social aspects but this is often seen as outside of the compliance framework and ancillary to realizing the aims of a treaty.”
  6. “For example, the total value of publicly traded biotech companies in the USA in April 2008 was $360 billion.”

BWC, Bioterrorism, CWC, Biotechnology




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