II. Eliminating Chemical and Biological Weapons

Chemical and biological weapons (CBW) can be many times more devastating than conventional high-explosive bombs and shells, yet the technologies and materials to design and manufacture CBW munitions are far more readily available than those needed for nuclear weapons. Long recognized as weapons of mass destruction, their possible use in small quantities by terrorists against innocent civilians is a matter of continuing concern. This concern has been further increased since the 1995 Tokyo incident in which a religious-based terrorist group released the nerve agent Sarin in a crowded subway, killing 12 and injuring thousands.

The past year has seen the entry-into-force of the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the emergence of a draft text for a legally binding protocol to enhance the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). These achievements represent significant progress toward the ultimate goal of totally eliminating chemical and biological weapons.


The elimination of chemical weapons involves two principal activities, the destruction of existing weapons and the prevention of the proliferation of new ones. The United States is pursuing chemical disarmament along multiple tracks. First, we are urging universal adherence to, and effective implementation of the CWC. Second, we seek a bilateral verification agreement with the Russian Federation concerning verification of U.S. and Russian elimination of our respective CW capabilities. Finally, through our participation in the Australia Group, we support appropriate non-proliferation and export controls.


The CWC helps to set the world on a more secure path into the next century. The CWC provides three separate, but related measures that improve our national security: (1) it establishes a norm of behavior for the international community, stressing that chemical weapons are not legitimate means of warfare; (2) it provides a mechanism for verifying States Parties' compliance; and (3) it creates an internationally-agreed mechanism for applying political and economic pressure on nations that either do not comply with their obligations or choose not to join.

More than 20 years of negotiations on the CWC were completed on September 3, 1992, when the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva forwarded the finished Treaty to the United Nations General Assembly.

The CWC was opened for signature at a ceremony in Paris on January 13-15, 1993; 130 countries, including the United States, became original signatories.

The CWC entered into force on April 29, 1997, 180 days after Hungary became the 65th nation to deposit its instrument of ratification. The United States ratified the CWC on April 25, 1997, and Russia ratified it on November 5, 1997. As of December 1997, 168 countries had signed the CWC and 106 had deposited instruments of ratification. States Parties include China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, all of the European countries except the former Yugoslav state of Serbia-Montenegro, and most of the Western Hemisphere states. While non-signatories include Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria, approximately two-thirds of the 20 countries we believe have or are developing chemical weapons have signed the Convention.

On April 24, 1997, the United States Senate approved the CWC by a vote of 74-26. After the Senate's approval President Clinton stated, "The Chemical Weapons Convention truly was made in America, under two of my predecessors. It is right for America. Now it has been ratified in America, and it will make our future more secure."

Arms Control and Nonproliferation Objectives. The CWC is both a disarmament Treaty and a central element of U.S. nonproliferation policy. It will result in the destruction of existing declared chemical arsenals while strengthening the global norm against the proliferation of these mass destruction weapons.

CWC Implementation. Because CW facilities are similar to many commercial chemical plants, and because many member nations have developed commercial chemical industries, CWC implementation is a far more massive and ambitious undertaking than that of any previous arms control agreement. U.S. CWC implementing legislation is urgently needed to enable the collection, protection and processing of chemical industry declarations that will serve as the basis for CWC inspection of U.S. commercial facilities, key to successful CWC implementation.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It was established at entry-into-force of the CWC on April 29, 1997. The seat of the Organization is in The Hague, Netherlands. The Organization consists of the Conference of the States Parties (the "Conference"), the Executive Council (EC), and the Technical Secretariat (TS). The Conference of the States Parties has representation from all States Parties. It determines the Organization's program and budget, elects the Executive Council, helps establish a Scientific Advisory Board and any other subsidiary organs it finds necessary, and reviews CWC implementation and compliance issues. The Conference first met in May 1997 at which time it elected Brazilian Ambassador Jose Bustani as the Director-General, elected the members of the EC, and established the OPCW. The Conference met again in December to approve the 1998 budget and EC recommendations on a variety of issues.

The Executive Council consists of 41 States Parties (including the United States) elected based upon geographic distribution and size of the chemical industry. It submits budgets, reports, and recommendations to the Conference, and considers CWC implementation and compliance issues. The EC acts as the governing body for the OPCW during day-to-day operations. As of December 1997, the EC had met seven times to address a broad variety of issues such as finalizing the OPCW budget, scale of assessment, Article IV and V costs, processing requests for CW production facility conversion, recommending approval of facility agreements and transitional verification arrangements, finalizing staff regulations, and other implementation issues.

The Technical Secretariat to the OPCW carries out the verification measures provided for in the CWC and will have a staff of approximately 500, including some 211 inspectors trained and equipped to inspect military and industrial facilities throughout the world. It includes the CWC's administrators, inspectors, and scientific and technical advisors. The TS receives and processes States Parties' declarations, conducts inspections of declared facilities, reports information to the EC and States Parties, and conducts the day-to-day OPCW business of implementing the Convention. The OPCW conducted over 100 inspections in some 20 countries in 1997. Over 40 of those inspections were conducted in the United States and the OPCW maintains a permanent inspector presence at U.S. operational CW destruction facilities in Utah, Maryland, Nevada, and on Johnston Island.

Issues of particular interest to the United States since the CWC entered into force include:

  • promoting ratification by Russia and other countries having CW programs;

  • ensuring that the OPCW budget is minimized without reducing CWC verification;

  • capping the U.S. assessment at 25 percent and establishing a floor of 0.01 percent for others;

  • transparency in operation of the verification regime;

  • full and complete data declarations by all States Parties;

  • uniform treatment of States Parties for costs of inspections at CW-related facilities;

  • cost-sharing agreement for research and development costs;

  • host country agreements for challenge inspections of U.S. military facilities abroad;

  • certification of inspection equipment;

  • transitional verification arrangements for U.S. CW destruction facilities;

  • tagging of CW munitions during inspections;

  • sampling;

  • protection of confidential information;

  • development of automated data processing and communications;

  • completion of OPCW information management system; and

  • support for U.S. National Authority in implementing the CWC.

ACDA's Role: ACDA is the lead U.S. Government agency in coordinating CWC implementation. Its responsibilities include:

  • leading the U.S. CWC OPCW delegation;

  • chairing interagency backstopping meetings on the CWC;

  • coordinating the development of guidance for U.S. negotiators working on CWC implementation;

  • staffing the National Authority Coordinating Staff (NACS) office that works with the OPCW and the various USG departments and agencies to coordinate U.S. administrative and logistical actions to implement the CWC in the United States;

  • compiling and submitting of the U.S. national CWC declaration through NACS; and

  • educating the U.S. chemical and other industry on the requirements of the CWC.

In 1997 ACDA's industry outreach efforts included mailing of an information package to some 2,000 industry sites likely to be affected by the CWC, offering declaration workshops on demand, various speaking engagements, and continued coordination with the Department of Commerce and the Chemical Manufacturers' Association concerning CWC implementation and CWC industry issues.


The Russian Federation has the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons. The United States has initiated bilateral CW agreements with the Russian Federation to dispose of these weapons, in parallel with preparation for implementation of the multilateral CWC.

Wyoming Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

On September 23, 1989, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the United States and the Soviet Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a two-phased CW data exchange and verification experiment. This initiative was designed to build confidence in the CW area and thus facilitate completion and implementation of the CWC.

Phase I provided for an exchange of general data on chemical stocks and production facilities, and for a series of reciprocal visits to CW facilities. This phase was successfully completed in February 1991.

Phase II provided for an exchange of detailed data and for reciprocal inspections at facilities that had been declared as part of each country's CW program. Phase II began with signature of implementing documents at the Moscow summit on January 14, 1994. Despite some difficulties, Phase II activities were concluded on December 10, 1994, with the sides exchanging and consulting on the data, and conducting the agreed inspections.

Bilateral Non-Production and Destruction Agreement (BDA)

In this agreement, signed June 1, 1990, the United States and the Soviet Union (now Russia) each agreed to destroy all but 5,000 tons of their respective chemical agents and to halt any further production. The BDA has not yet, however, entered into force. By mutual agreement, the BDA schedule has now been aligned with the CWC schedule, which will require destruction of U.S. and Russian CW stockpiles within 10 years after entry-into-force.

The Holum-Baturin Channel

As an outgrowth of the Vice President Gore-Prime Minister Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC), ACDA Director Holum and Russian Defense Advisor Baturin opened a channel of discussions in 1996 to pursue CW arms control issues. These discussions continued in 1997, centered mostly around conversion of CW production facilities and clarification of previous bilateral data declarations. The Russians hosted a visit to Volgograd to specifically address the issue of conversion of CW production facilities there.

The United States repeatedly emphasized to the Russian side the need for prompt ratification of the CWC, and on November 5, 1997, Russia ratified the CWC. We continue to engage with the Russians to put in place a bilateral regime to verify compliance with the CWC. Additionally, we continue to encourage other nations to join the United States in providing assistance to Russia for CW destruction.

ACDA's Role: In March 1993, ACDA led the United States delegation in Geneva that conducted the complex and detailed negotiations for implementation of the BDA, including draft protocols to the BDA. Formal agreement is still pending on the protocols provisionally agreed in Geneva in March 1993. The United States supported the protocols as final, but upon further review in Moscow, Russia sought further changes in the protocols because of concerns relating to the conversion of chemical weapons production facilities.

In response to concerns about Russian official statements in mid-1996 that the BDA has fulfilled its function and was no longer important, the Administration informed the Congress that if the BDA is not in force when the CWC is implemented, Russian chemical weapons elimination will still be subject to systematic verification under the CWC, which would be performed by the OPCW. It is important to remember that, in contrast to the CWC, the BDA does not require total destruction of CW stocks nor does it provide a multilateral framework that includes challenge inspections for addressing compliance concerns.

We continue to seek the implementation of a bilateral verification agreement to monitor CWC compliance. We believe, and are actively attempting to demonstrate to the Russians, that bilateral verification is in the best interest of both countries because it will provide greater confidence and lower verification costs for both the United States and Russia. In fact, States Parties to the CWC who do not possess chemical weapons are becoming increasingly vocal about their support for a U.S.-Russian bilateral verification arrangement as a mechanism to reduce overall costs to the OPCW. In addition, a bilateral verification arrangement with the United States will serve to facilitate joint venture projects with American companies at former and converted Russian CW production facilities.

United States-Russia CW Destruction Program

On July 30, 1992, the United States and Russia signed an agreement under the Nunn-Lugar program to cooperate in destroying the Russian CW stockpile. Pursuant to this agreement, the United States offered to provide $25 million in funds under the Nunn-Lugar legislation to help Russia plan CW destruction facilities and demonstrate CW destruction technology. A work plan outlining an approach to U.S. assistance in the Russian CW destruction program was concluded in January 1994. In May 1994, the U.S. Government selected Bechtel National, Inc. as the Comprehensive Implementation Plan Contractor to help develop the Russian CW destruction program. The 1995 work plan was signed in April 1995 and includes an additional $30 million of Nunn-Lugar funds to help Russia establish and equip the Central Analytical Laboratory for reliable and efficient environmental control of CW destruction. The work plan also initiated a joint evaluation of the Russian two-step CW destruction process. The evaluation, completed in 1996, showed satisfactory agent destruction levels. Additional laboratory scale tests are planned to refine and define the operating conditions to be used to design a bench scale reactor system for further testing and development of CW destruction process equipment. An Implementing Agreement, signed in July 1996, outlines the roles of both countries in the creation of the first pilot Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility at Shchuch'ye. In 1997 a contract was awarded to Ralph M. Parsons Co. to integrate the evaluation and development efforts via bench scale testing of CW agent destruction processes, equipment development, engineering studies and eventual construction and prove out of a pilot facility. FY 1997 funding was $68.5M.

ACDA's Role: ACDA participates in interagency policy coordination for the CW destruction agreement, which is executed by the Department of Defense.


The United States continues to work on two fronts to eliminate the threat of biological weapons. First, we have been active in efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention by drafting a legally binding protocol, providing for annual data declarations and a range of on-site activities. Second, we have been active participants in the Australia Group, which seeks to stem BW proliferation by harmonizing export controls on materials and equipment useful in the development and production of BW.

1. The Biological Weapons Convention

The 140 Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 (BWC) undertake not to develop, produce, stockpile, acquire or retain microbial or other biological agents or toxins, whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes, and weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

Arms Control Objective. Over the two decades since entry-into-force of the BWC, confidence in the effectiveness of the Convention has been undermined by instances of non-compliance, notably on the part of the former Soviet Union and Iraq. In March 1992, President Yeltsin publicly renounced the Soviet BW program and pledged to completely eradicate it from the Russian Federation. While the United States recognizes President Yeltsin's commitment, we continue to have concerns. Although Iraq's BW program was begun before it became a State Party to the BWC in 1991, the United States believes Iraq continued its BW efforts after acceding to the Convention. To deter noncompliance and reinforce the global norm against proliferation of biological weapons, we support negotiation of a legally-binding protocol that provides for reasonable, cost-effective, and mutually reinforcing mandatory measures that enhance compliance with the BWC. These measures would include both off-site and on-site measures as a means of providing openness and transparency.

Status of Negotiations. The 1991 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Review Conference (RevCon) mandated the convening of an Ad Hoc Group of Government Technical and Scientific Experts which completed its work in 1993 and adopted a consensus report on the scientific and technical merit of 21 potential verification measures. In September 1994, a Special Conference endorsed the report and mandated the convening of another Ad Hoc Group (AHG), open to all States Parties, to consider appropriate measures to strengthen the BWC (including verification measures) and incorporate them into a legally-binding document (a "Protocol"). When completed, the Protocol will be forwarded to States Parties for adoption at a Special Conference.

The AHG held productive working sessions throughout 1995 and 1996 and drafted papers in the four primary areas of concern, as set forth in the Group's mandate: definitions and criteria, measures to promote compliance, national implementation measures, and confidence building measures. The AHG submitted a progress report to the Fourth BWC Review Conference (1996); the 1996 RevCon endorsed the work of the AHG and urged them to intensify their efforts. The AHG met again in March, July/August and September/October 1997, and January 1998. In July of 1997, the AHG began to focus its work on a draft "rolling text" along with implementing procedures.

Prospects for the Forthcoming Year. At the 1996 Review Conference, the AHG established the goal to complete its work as soon as possible, but not later than the next Review Conference in 2001. The Ad Hoc Group (AHG) established its work program for 1998 with an intensified schedule of 11 weeks of negotiations divided into four sessions. In his January 1998 State of the Union message, President Clinton called upon the international community to act to prevent the use of disease as a weapon of war or terror by strengthening the BWC with a new international inspection system to detect and deter cheating.

ACDA's Role: ACDA is the lead U.S. Government agency for BWC negotiations. Our responsibilities include:

  • leading the U.S. delegations in Geneva to the BWC Ad Hoc Group of Government Experts (VEREX), the Special Conference, the Ad Hoc Group, and the BWC Review Conferences, including providing experts;

  • chairing the interagency backstopping policy formulation group;

  • coordinating the development of guidance on BWC issues for U.S. negotiators;

  • coordinating the preparation of discussion papers on BWC issues to lead to resolution of policy issues;

  • coordinating the development and evaluation of measures to enhance compliance;

  • briefing Members of Congress and their staffs on BWC issues; and

  • informing U.S. industry and the general public on the negotiations.

U.S.-British-Russian Trilateral Process. In a Joint Statement in September 1992, senior government officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation affirmed their commitment to full compliance with the BWC and declared that biological weapons have no place in their armed forces. The Russian Federation agreed to take tangible steps to resolve U.S. and British concerns about the offensive BW program inherited from the former Soviet Union.

Russian President Yeltsin proposed a number of steps to remove ambiguities about BWC compliance, including visits to non-military biological facilities. A delegation of U.S. and UK officials visited Russian non-military sites in October 1993 and in January 1994. The Russians reciprocated during February-March 1994, visiting three U.S. non-military facilities and one British facility. The three governments also agreed to hold expert working group sessions and to visit military biological facilities. The United States and the UK continue their efforts to work with the Russian Federation to ensure complete termination of the former Soviet BW program.


Despite entry-into-force of the CWC and efforts of the Ad Hoc Group to draft a legally-binding protocol to the BWC, not all the news is good. Some 20 countries either have, or are seeking to acquire, a chemical weapons capability. A number of countries, including Iraq, Iran and Libya, have chemical weapons stockpiles. In many cases, as exemplified by Iraq, BW programs have historically followed closely on the heels of CW programs.

We must, therefore, strengthen international barriers against chemical and biological weapons proliferation by enhancing multilateral non-proliferation regimes.

Status of Activities. In 1997, the United States continued to lead the international community in CBW nonproliferation, including:

  • strengthening the Australia Group, including examining ways to prevent terrorist use of CBW;

  • expanding outreach to non-Australia Group members to encourage adoption of effective CBW-related export controls;

  • intervening diplomatically to alert other governments to potential exports to proliferation programs; and

  • enforcing the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, which provides the authority to impose sanctions on foreign governments that use CBW or foreign individuals engaged in chemical or biological weapons proliferation. The United States has effectively used the consultative provisions of this law to secure foreign governments' cooperation in terminating their companies' support for third-country chemical weapons programs.

ACDA's Role: During 1997, ACDA continued to participate in CW and BW nonproliferation initiatives, and to be a member of the U.S. delegation to the Australia Group. ACDA was instrumental in diplomatic efforts with non-member states and in efforts to expand the Group.

During 1997, ACDA participated in interagency review of approximately 700 license applications to ensure that U.S. companies were not contributing to foreign CBW programs, and in efforts to harmonize U.S. CBW export controls with those of other nations.

As a charter member of the U.S. Government's interagency Chemical and Biological Weapons Interdiction Group (SHIELD), ACDA is an active participant in the interagency process that has been instrumental in stemming the flow of chemical and biological weapons-related materials to rogue states including Iran and Libya. This U.S. effort has included arrest and successful prosecution of individuals attempting illicit trade in precursors and dual-use equipment.