Preventing a Biochemical Arms Race

Preventing a Biochemical Arms Race

Preventing a Biochemical Arms Race

Preventing a Biochemical Arms Race

Synopsis

Preventing a Biochemical Arms Race responds to a growing concern that changes in the life sciences and the nature of warfare could lead to a resurgent interest in chemical and biological weapons (CBW) capabilities. By bringing together a wide range of historical material and current literature in the field of CBW arms control, the book reveals how these two disparate fields might be integrated to precipitate a biochemical arms race among major powers, rogue states, or even non-state actors.

It seeks to raise awareness among policy practitioners, the academic community, and the media that such an arms race may be looming if developments are left unattended, and to provide policy options on how it-and it's devastating consequences-could be avoided. After identifying weaknesses in the international regime structures revolving around the Biological Weapons and Chemical Weapons Conventions, it provides policy proposals to deal with gaps and shortcomings in each prohibition regime individually, and then addresses the widening gap between them.

Excerpt

The development and application of military technology over time has taken many different forms. In the area of chemical and biological weapons (CBW), this has manifested itself in the deliberate spread of disease in premodern siege warfare (Wheelis 1999a, 10–16) and the large-scale deployment of chemical warfare agents during World War I enabled partially by the industrial revolution (Robinson 1998; SIPRI 1971a; Martinetz 1995). With the advent of the information age and the dawning of the “biotech century,” questions about the relationship between military or dual-use technologies, and the political motives of state and substate actors, arise anew. These questions are especially pertinent because of wider changes in the nature of warfare (discussed in chapter 2 below), the ongoing revolution in the life sciences that opens up to malign interference regulatory systems—such as the nervous and immune systems—in the human body (see Kelle, Nixdorff, and Dando 2006 and chapters 3 and 4 below), and the renewed emphasis on biodefense activities in response to the perceived rise in the threat emanating from potential bioterrorist attacks (see chapter 5 below).

However, these risks are in principle dealt with by the prohibition regimes that were set up in the late 1960s/early 1970s (for biological weapons [BW]) and late 1980s/early 1990s (for chemical weapons [CW]) in order to address the threat stemming from these weapons. The multilateral regimes thus created and revolving around the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention . . .

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