U.S. Rejects Biological Arms Protocol
Kralev, Nicholas, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Nicholas Kralev
The United States today will reject a global protocol to toughen a 1972 treaty banning biological weapons - the second time this week it has stood alone in refusing to sign a widely backed international agreement.
In a move that many foreign countries and arms control advocates view as yet another sign of unilateralism, the Bush administration will tell a meeting in Geneva that the proposed draft uses a flawed approach and doesn't serve U.S. interests, administration officials said yesterday.
The protocol involves ways to enforce, through on-site inspections, the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which the United States has already ratified.
Washington's main objection is that the proposed inspection regime would fall short in verifying whether the treaty is being observed by all 143 signatories.
Those inspections, U.S. officials also said, would threaten U.S. military and trade secrets while allowing "rogue states," such as Iran and Iraq, to "cheat."
"We have conducted an in-depth review of the text of the protocol, and we arrived at the conclusion that it doesn't address the threat [of biological weapons], doesn't provide for effective verification, but does put the bio-defense activities, as well as proprietary confidential business information of our industry, at risk," said a senior administration official.
But the official insisted the Bush administration remains "fully committed" to the BWC and to "the goal of strengthening it."
"An ineffective protocol is worse than no protocol," said the official, who asked not to be identified.
On Monday, the administration refused to join an accord to cut emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
The agreement, signed by 178 states in Bonn, ensures the survival of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which President Bush denounced earlier this year as "fatally flawed."
Administration officials, however, warned against comparing the two treaties, since reasons for rejecting the Kyoto accord were primarily economic. …