The Debate on Visits
The negotiations to produce a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) have been followed carefully by a number of scholars and activists in different countries despite the apparent lack of interest among scientists, the general public and the mass media. Amy Smithson probably reflected a view held by many such activists and scholars when she suggested that: ‘Strengthening the BWC is unquestionably necessary to enhance international security, but this treaty is orders of magnitude more difficult to monitor than nuclear, chemical, or conventional arms control accords … ’. 1 However, it is important to understand that the task is not considered impossible by those who have looked very carefully at the problem. Stephen Black, for example, reflecting on the difficult task UNSCOM had in Iraq, concluded:
Some have suggested that the goal of designing a BW verification mechanism, which can detect noncompliance, is unattainable. The Special Commission has proven that it is not impossible to detect a concealed BW program, even when it is carefully hidden. While it took several years and significant effort, UNSCOM was able to build a case that could have only one outcome – Iraq's admission of an offensive BW program … 2
What is of particular interest is Black's later comment that:
UNSCOM showed the value of a systems approach to biological arms verification, rather than looking for single elements and discrete actions. … It was the combination and obvious direction of Iraq's dual-use capabilities that convinced the world of Iraq's deceit.