Among the geographic regions treated in this book, Central and South America have drawn the least attention as areas of suspect CW activity.
Latin America has a uniquely strong history of chemical arms control. In 1923 the five existing Central American states signed a convention adopting the ban on chemical and biological weapons that later was adopted in the Geneva Protocol. In 1924 the fifth International Conference of American States (including the United States) adopted an equivalent resolution. The Inter-American Peace Conference, held in December 1986, affirmed a ban on chemicals in warfare.1 In December 1990, the Brazilian foreign minister announced that his country and Argentina were negotiating an agreement to ban the production of chemical weapons.2
All of the Central and South American countries discussed here are classified in doubtful categories in the comprehensive assessments, except that Brazil is omitted entirely. Chile and Cuba are considered more likely than the others. Press reports vary.
None of these states was named in the 1989 congressional testimony of Director of Naval Intelligence Thomas Brooks as among states that "are developing or have achieved CW capabilities."3 This apparently confirms the belief of Pentagon officials who in 1984 reportedly said that the threat of chemical attack on US forces had not yet spread to the Western hemisphere.4 In the interim, however, there were allegations against Nicaragua and against Cuba in Angola.
Those latter allegations are probably reflected in the response of Robert Barker, deputy assistant secretary of defense (chemical matters), to a question from a congressman in 1987.5
Q: What are the over 17 nations that have chemical capacity? . . . Any in South America? A: [deleted in published text] in South America. And you could see that a large fraction of those are . . . Soviet client states.