British Medical Association Releases Biological Weapons Report
The BMA released a report on the continuing global threat of biological weapons. It raises concerns about the increased threat posed by advances in biotechnology. These concerns could be addressed by strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, but the Bush administration has been an obstacle:
Dando said the Bush administration had turned its back on many international accords, which he asserted was the key reason the convention remained weak.As usual, the Bush administration has opposed compliance and verification measure. [Janes, US Embassy]. The World Policy Journal has the details on the Bush administration's maneuverings:
The powerful U.S. biotechnology industry has put pressure on the administration not to back strong international monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, arguing that they could stifle research, Dando said.
As to the likely effectiveness of the draft protocol, it is certainly true that its provisions on declarations and inspections are relatively weak as compared to the Chemical Weapons Convention. This is due in no small measure to stated U.S. positions. The United States insisted on limiting the scope and number of facilities to be declared. It also favored a cumbersome, time-consuming procedure for launching an investigation of a facility suspected of noncompliance, which could afford the opportunity to clean up a suspect facility prior to its inspection. These and other weaknesses caused some experts, like Amy Smithson of the Stimson Center, to oppose the draft though they supported the creation of a verification regime.For another example of ideological administration opposition to verification, see FMCT posts one and two.
However, if the Bush administration’s concern was that the draft needed to be strengthened, it could have pushed, with a high likelihood of success, for further revision. Its blanket opposition points to the conclusion that the administration simply saw the protocol as yet another mandatory —and therefore unpalatable—multilateral regulation. The conclusion is strengthened by the administration’s subsequent refusal to consider negotiating agreements of narrower scope—for example, one requiring national prosecution of individual violators or one establishing a procedure for challenge inspections.