International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation

By Gordon M. Burck; Charles C. Flowerree | Go to book overview
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Chapter 10
Political Factors and Antiproliferation Measures

The international community has been struggling with the problem of eliminating the chemical weapons threat for decades, but the recent spread of these weapons to countries that had not previously possessed them has added a new dimension. The current effort to halt this spread involves: (1) political actions, (2) controls on exports of key materials, and (3) negotiations on a worldwide chemical weapons ban. In addition, all efforts to mitigate regional tensions or military confrontations would, of course, be important contributions to controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction. While such efforts are obviously important to the elimination of the chemical threat, their discussion is beyond the scope of this book.

The discussion that follows begins with an examination of the factors that have impelled countries to consider adding chemical weapons to their military arsenals. Next there is a brief account of past attempts by the international community to deal with the chemical weapons threat, leading into a discussion of current political and economic efforts to that end. Several proposals that have not been translated into action are also treated briefly. Finally, the chemical weapons convention being negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva is examined in terms of its utility as a nonproliferation instrument.


FORCES FUELING PROLIFERATION

A national decision to acquire any type of new weapon is always based on an amalgam of factors, of which many are not strictly military in nature. The current world situation, in which regional confrontation seems to be replacing East-West tensions as the immediate threat to peace, has spawned an upsurge in the desire by Third World nations to acquire advanced weaponry of all kinds. This urge is most apparent in the Middle East where the chronic mistrust between Israel and its Arab neighbors and fresh memories of armed conflict have impelled

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