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Chemical and Biological Weapons Status at a Glance
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Press Contact: Tom Z. Collina, Research Director (202) 463-8270 x104

For more information about the CWC, please see the CWC at a Glance Factsheet and CWC Signatories and States-Parties

For more information about the BWC, please see the BWC at a Glance Factsheet and BWC Signatories and States-Parties

Updated: February 2014

The danger posed by Biological Weapons (BW) and Chemical Weapons (CW) still lingers two decades after the cold war’s end. Despite the reduction of threats as an increasing number of states fulfill their commitments under international conventions, a small number of states still maintain declared and undeclared stockpiles and even active BW and CW programs. A bio-technology revolution is making bio-technology more readily available and presents a potential future proliferation risk. Dual-use chemical processes also present a series of ongoing challenges. Progress has certainly been made by Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) state-parties and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the destruction of declared CW stockpiles. However, progress on the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has been slower due to the  lack of a formal verification mechanism.

The chart below details countries possessing or developing CW or BW. It draws on open source intelligence including unclassified government assessments. Taking into account the clandestine and controversial nature of these programs, state capabilities are considered under four headings: State declarations detail the state’s official position on the weapons in question and whether they have declared stockpiles or programs. Allegations look at allegations made by other states, namely the U.S. as to what the status of programs and stockpiles are. Potential delivery systems consider the means that suspected possessors have of delivering such weapons. Any other information is also included which may be of relevance to a state’s capabilities.

The chart also details whether each state has signed, ratified, or acceded to relevant international treaties: the 1972 BWC, which bans offensive biological weapons development and possession; the 1993 CWC, which outlaws chemical weapons development, possession, and use; and the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which forbids the use of chemical and biological weapons in war.

COUNTRY
BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CAPABILITIES
CHEMICAL WEAPONS CAPABILITIES
TREATY STATUS
Albania

State Declarations: None.

Allegations: None.

State declaration: Declared possession of 16 metric tons of Mustard gas to the OPCW.

Completed destruction on July 11, 2007.

An additional quantity of chemical agents was discovered in September 2011, and destroyed in July 2012.

Geneva Protocol: Acceded 12/20/89

BWC:
Acceded 6/3/92

CWC: Signed 1/14/93

Ratified 5/11/94
China

State declaration: China states that it is in compliance with its BWC obligations and that it has never had an active BW program, denouncing such weapons.

Allegations: According to the U.S., China’s BW activities have been extensive and a 1993 State Department Compliance Report alleged that activities continued after China joined the BWC. The 2010 report indicates that little information is known about China’s activities, and that recent dual-use activities may have breached the BWC. Existing infrastructure would allow it to develop, produce, and weaponize agents.

Potential delivery systems: include cruise missiles, fighters, bombers, helicopters, artillery, rockets, mortars, and sprayers.

State declaration: China states that it is in compliance with the CWC. China declared in 1997 that it had a small offensive CW program that has now been dismantled.

Allegations: The U.S. alleged in 2003 that China has an “advanced chemical weapons research and development program.” However, these allegations have decreased in magnitude in recent years with the 2010 report citing insufficient evidence to confirm China’s previous or current activities.

Potential delivery systems: Include artillery, rockets, mortars, landmines, aerial bombs, sprayers, and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Any other information: Approximately 350,000 chemical munitions were left on Chinese soil by Japan during the Second World War. Work with Japan to dispose of these is ongoing at a slow pace.
Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 8/24/29.

BWC: Acceded
11/15/84.

CWC: Signed
1/13/93, ratified
4/25/97.

Cuba

State declarations: Cuba denies any BW research efforts.

Allegations: A 2003 State Department Compliance Report [1] indicated that Cuba had “at least a limited developmental offensive biological warfare research and development effort.” The 2010 report claims that “available information did not indicate Cuba’s dual-use activities during the reporting period involved activities prohibited by the BWC.”

Allegations of BW programs have been made by Cuban defectors in the past.

Any other information: Cuba has a relatively advanced biotechnology industrial capabilities.

Allegations: None credible.

Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 6/24/66.

BWC: Signed
4/12/72, ratified
4/21/76.

CWC: Signed 1/13/93,
ratified 4/29/97.

Egypt

State declarations: Two vague statements alluding to a BW capability were made by President Saddat and one of his ministers in 1972. According to the 2010 report, the Egyptian government remains “committed to the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons.”

Allegations: Various allegations that Egypt had developed BW by 1972 and that it may not have eliminated this capability. The 2010 report records that “available information did not indicate Egypt’s biological research and development activities during the reporting period were inconsistent with the BWC.”

Potential delivery systems: Missiles.

State declarations: No significant declarations.

Allegations: Allegedly stockpiled CW, and used them in Yemen (1963 – 1967.) This use violated the Geneva Protocol. Egypt is not considered in the CW section of the 2010 report because it is outside the CWC.

Potential delivery systems: Tactical missiles, bombs, shells, mines and other munitions. Bombs were used in Yemen.
Geneva Protocol:
Signed 6/17/25, ratified 12/6/28.

BWC: Signed 4/10/72.

CWC: Has not signed.

India

State declarations: India is abiding by the BWC and will continue to do so.

Allegations: Very limited – no conclusive evidence of prior or current offensive programs. The 2010 report records that “available information did not indicate that any of India’s biological research and development activities were inconsistent with its BWC obligations.”

Potential delivery systems: Potential delivery systems include short-range, anti-ship cruise missiles; short-range, air-launched tactical missiles; fighter aircraft; artillery; and rockets.

Any other information: Has a strong capability in bio-technological research.

State declarations: Declared in June 1997 that it possessed a CW stockpile in excess of 1000 metric tons of undisclosed chemical agents. India fulfilled its CWC obligations and completed destruction of its stockpile on March 16, 2009.

Any other information: Its industry retains the ability to produce agent precursors—chemicals that can be used in chemical weapons production.
Geneva Protocol
Signed 6/17/25,
ratified 4/ 9/30.

BWC: Signed 1/15/73,
ratified 7/15/74.

CWC: Signed
1/14/93, ratified
9/3/96.

Iran

State declarations: Has publicly denounced BW.

Allegations: The Defense Intelligence Agency alleged in 2009 that Iran’s BW efforts “may have evolved beyond

agent R&D, and we believe Iran likely has the capability to produce small quantities of

BW agents but may only have a limited ability to weaponize them.” [2] The 2010 report assesses that there is evidence showing Iran continues dual-use activities, but there is no conclusive evidence showing BWC violations.

Potential delivery systems: include short-range cruise missiles; short-range, air-launched tactical missiles; fighter aircraft; artillery shells; and rockets.

Any other information: Iran has a relatively sophisticated pharmaceutical industry.

State declarations: Has denounced the possession and use of CW in international forums.

Allegations: Pre-2003 U.S. intelligence assessments alleged that Iran had a stockpile of CW. This stockpile is thought to have included blister, blood, and choking agents and probably nerve agents.

More recent assessments have been less certain with the 2012 report declaring that "Iran maintains the capability to produce chemical warfare (CW) agents and conducts research that may have offensive applications" and that Iran is "capable of weaponizing CW agents in a variety of delivery systems."

Potential delivery systems: include artillery shells, mortars, rockets, and aerial bombs.

Any other information: Has battlefield experience using CW and employing CW defensive measures during the Iran-Iraq War. CW program believed to have been started after Iraqi CW use.
Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 11/5/29.

BWC: Signed
4/10/72, ratified
8/22/73.

CWC: Signed
1/13/93, ratified
11/3/97.

Iraq

State declarations: None by post-2003 governments.

Allegations: None since the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a U.S. led coalition. The 2010 report assesses that Iraq is “not engaged in activities prohibited by the BWC.”

Any other information: Admitted to testing and stockpiling BW in the mid-1990s. These stockpiles appear to have been destroyed prior to the 2003 invasion.

State declarations: No significant stockpiles of CW.

Allegations: None since 2003.

Any other information:

Had extensive program before the Persian Gulf War under which it produced and stockpiled mustard, tabun, sarin, and VX.

Delivered chemical agents against Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War using aerial bombs, artillery, rocket launchers, tactical rockets, and helicopter-mounted sprayers. Also used chemical weapons against its Kurdish population in 1988.

Program was largely dismantled by United Nations weapons inspectors in the 1990s.

There remains an unknown quantity of various chemical agents in Iraq. When Iraq joined the CWC in 2009 it make an initial declaration, but as of December 2012 had not completed drafting the plans for the destruction of these weapons. [3]
Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 9/8/31.

BWC: Signed 5/11/72, ratified 6/19/91.

CWC: Acceded 1/13/09.

Israel

State declarations: Has revealed little in terms of capabilities or programs. Israel has not given a reason for not signing the BWC.

Allegations: There is belief that Israel has had an offensive BW program in the past. There is no conclusive evidence that this is still the case.

Any other information: Highly sophisticated pharmaceutical and biotechnical industry.

State declarations: Has revealed nothing about its CW capabilities. Israel’s reason for not ratifying the CWC is that other states in the region have not done so.

Allegations: There is belief that Israel had an offensive CW program in the past. Has not been included in the 2005 or 2010 State Department Compliance Reports because Israel is not a party to the CWC. There is no conclusive evidence of an ongoing program although allegations are still made.

Any other information: Israel has a highly sophisticated chemical industry.
Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 2/20/69.

BWC: Has not signed.

CWC: Signed
1/13/93.

Libya

State declarations: Libya announced in 2003 that it would eliminate its BW program and adhere to its BWC commitments. According to the 2010 report, Libya is in full compliance.

State declarations: In 2003, Libya announced it would be abandoning its CW program. In 2004 it declared possession of chemical agents which it is now in the process of destroying and facilities which it is converting. Libya possessed over 26 metric tons of chemical weapons. The OPCW originally extended Libya’s destruction deadline to May 2011. Due to complications arising from the overthrow of the government, Libya did not meet that deadline, announced it planned to complete destruction by December 2013. On January 26, 2014, destruction of the stockpile was completed.

 

Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 12/29/71.

BWC: Acceded
1/19/82.

CWC: Acceded 1/6/04

North Korea

State declarations: The 2010 report comments that North Korea has yet to declare any of its biological research and development activities as part of the BWC confidence building measures.

Allegations: The 2010 report remarks that North Korea may “still consider the use of biological weapons as a military option”

Potential delivery systems: include short-range, anti-ship cruise missiles; bombers; rockets; mortars; sprayers; artillery; helicopters; and fighters.

State declarations: None

Allegations: North Korea is widely believed to possess a large chemical stockpile including nerve, blister, choking, and blood agents.

The 2012 unclassified intelligence assesment provided to Congress states that North Korea has a "long standing CW program" and "possesses a large stockpile of agents."

Potential delivery systems: include ballistic missiles, artillery, and aircraft.


Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 1/4/89.

BWC: Acceded
3/13/87.

CWC: Has not signed.

Pakistan

State declarations: None.

Allegations: No substantial allegations. The 2010 report states that “available information did not suggest that any agent and toxin research activities by Pakistani entities were inconsistent with Pakistan’s BWC obligations.”

Potential delivery systems: include short-range, anti-ship cruise missiles; short-range, air-launched tactical missiles; fighter aircraft; artillery; and rockets.

Any other information: Has ability to support limited biological weapons research and development effort.


State declarations: None.

Allegations: None substantial. Pakistan was not included in the 2005 or 2010 Compliance Reports in relation to the CWC.

Potential delivery systems: include missiles, artillery, and aerial bombs.
Geneva Protocol:
Signed 4/15/60.

BWC: Signed
4/10/72, ratified
9/25/74.

CWC: Signed
1/13/93, ratified
10/28/97.

Russia

State declarations: In 1992, Boris Yeltsin acknowledged that the USSR had pursued an extensive and offensive BW program throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He banned any more of such work being undertaken. However, there is little public information of any more specific declarations of what Russia may continue to possess.

Allegations: Agents weaponized included tularemia, typhus, Q fever, smallpox, plague, anthrax, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, glanders, brucellosis, and Marburg. Researched numerous other agents and toxins that can attack humans, plants, and livestock.

The 2010 report details that Russia continues to engage in dual-use biological research activities, yet there is no evidence that such work is inconsistent with BWC obligations. It assesses that it remains unclear whether Russia has fulfilled its obligations under Article I of the convention.

Potential delivery systems: include fighter aircraft, artillery, rockets, helicopters, short-range ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. The former Soviet program planned to deliver certain agents, such as smallpox, anthrax, and plague, by ICBM.

State declarations: Possessed the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpile: 40,000 metric tons of chemical agent, including VX, sarin, soman, mustard, lewisite, mustard-lewisite mixtures, and phosgene.

Russia has declared this to the OPCW and has commenced destruction. Along with the United States, Russia received an extension when it was unable to complete destruction by the 2012 deadline imposed by the CWC. As of August 2013, Russia has destroyed about 30,400 metric tons of chemical agents. It plans to complete destruction between 2015-2016. [4]

Allegations: The U.S. has some reservations about Russian compliance, as expressed in the 2010 report which states “The United States is unable to ascertain whether Russia’s CWC declaration is complete.”

Potential delivery systems: include artillery, bombs, spray tanks, and short-range ballistic missiles.

Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 4/5/28.

BWC: Signed
4/10/72, ratified
3/26/75.

CWC: Signed
1/13/93, ratified
11/5/97.

South Korea

State declarations: None.

Allegations: None.

State declarations: Previously declared a chemical weapons stockpile of unspecified agents, Completed destruction of these on July 10, 2008.

Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 1/4/89.

BWC: Signed
4/10/72, ratified
6/25/87.

CWC: Signed
1/14/93, ratified
4/28/97.

Sudan

State declarations: None.

Allegations: No confirmed evidence of a BW program.

State declarations: After acceding to the CWC in 1999, Sudan declared only a small selection of unspecified riot control agents.

Allegations: Unconfirmed reports that Sudan developed and used CW in the past. The U.S. bombed an alleged CW factory in 1998.

The 2005 Compliance Report questions “whether Sudan was in the past, and continues to be, involved in CW programs and possible use of CW agents.” It assesses that there is insufficient evidence available.

No serious allegations in recent years. Sudan was not included in the 2010 report in relation to the CWC.
Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 12/17/80.

BWC: Acceded 10/17/03

CWC: Acceded
5/24/99.

Syria

State declarations: President Assad has hinted at Syria’s procession of a BW capability according to the 2010 report.

Allegations: Syria has undertaken activities banned by the BWC. According to the 2010 report, there is no evidence that Syria has “abandoned its past, stated intentions to develop a biological deterrent.” President Obama says the United States is monitoring the situation very closely as civil conflict worsens. Potential that chemical/biological weapons will be used.

Potential delivery systems: include fighter aircraft; helicopters; artillery; short-range, anti-ship cruise missiles; short-range, air-launched tactical missiles; and rockets.

State declarations: On September 20, 2013, Syria submitted a declaration of its chemical weapons and facilities to the OPCW after years of denying the program's existence. Syria's declaration came with it's accession to the CWC after the regime used chemical agents against rebels-held areas in Syria.

Allegations: Syria has an extensive program producing a variety of agents, including nerve agents such as sarin and VX, and blistering agents, according to governments and media sources. There are also some allegations of deployed CWs on SCUD missiles. A September 16, 2013 report from the UN confirmed that sarin was used in an August 21, 2013 attack in Damascus.

Potential delivery systems: by aircraft, artillery rocket or ballistic missile.

Any other information:Key elements of its program rely on foreign sources.

Geneva Protocol:
Acceded 12/17/68.

BWC: Signed
4/14/72.

CWC: Acceded 09/12/13*

Taiwan

State declarations: None.

Allegations: 2010 Compliance Report confirms that “available information did not indicate that any biological research and development activities by Taiwan entities during the reporting period were inconsistent with the BWC.” There are “no unresolved BWC compliance issues involving Taiwan.”

Any other information: Has been upgrading its biotechnology capabilities in recent years.

State declarations: Small quantities of CW for research. Denies any other possession.

Allegations: Rumors of a defensive CW capability. However, Taiwan was omitted from the 2005 and 2010 Compliance Reports.

Other information: Has an advanced chemical industrial capability.
Geneva Protocol: Has not acceded.

Has pledged to
adhere to the BWC and CWC.

United States

State declarations: Unilaterally gave up its biological weapons program in 1969. The destruction of all offensive BW agents occurred between 1971 and 1973.

Currently conducting research as part of its biodefense program.

Allegations: According to a compliance report published by the Russian government in August 2010, the U.S. is undertaking research on Smallpox which is prohibited by the World Health Organization.

The U.S. is also accused of undertaking BW research in order to improve defenses against bio-terror attacks which is “especially questionable from the standpoint of Article I of the BTWC.”

Any other information: In May 2012, the second of the controversial H5N1 avian flu papers was published. The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity advised against publishing due to concerns that the dual-use research would be used in biowarfare.

State declarations: Declared a large chemical arsenal of 27,771 metric tons to the OPCW after the CWC came into force in 1997. Along with Russia, the United States recieved an extension when it was unable to complete destruction of its chemical stockpiles by 2012. As of August 2013, the United States has destroyed nearly 25,000 metric tons of chemical agents. The United States Army believes that destruction will be completed by 2023.

Allegations: The Russian report also alleges that the U.S. has legislation which could inhibit inspections and investigations of U.S. chemical facilities.

Russia has also accused the U.S. of not fully reporting chemical agents removed from Iraq between 2003 and 2008 to the U.S. for testing and subsequent destruction.
Geneva Protocol:
Signed 6/17/25,
ratified 4/10/75.

BWC: Signed
4/10/72, ratified
3/26/75.

CWC: Signed
1/13/93, ratified
4/25/97.

 

*Syria sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General on September 12, 2013 which said that Assad signed a legislative decree providing the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention. In the letter, Assad said Syria woud observe its CWC obligations immediately, as opposed to 30 days from the date of accession, as stipulated in the treaty.

Sources:

2010 Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, Department of State, July 2010, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/145181.pdf

2005 Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, Department of State, August 2005, http://www.state.gov/t/vci/rls/rpt/51977.htm

2010 Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on Compliance, August 2010, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20564

Arms Control Today


NOTES

1. Cited in 2010 Compliance Report, 2003 report is not in the public domain.

2. “Annual Threat Assessment,” Statement before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, March 10, 2009, http://www.dia.mil/publicaffairs/Testimonies/statement_31.pdf

3. U.S. Department of State, "Condition (10) (C) Report: Compliance With teh Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction," last accessed Aug. 29, 2013, http://www.state.gov/t/avc/rls/rpt/2013/index.htm

4. Horner, Daniel “Russia Revises Chemical Arms Deadline,” Arms Control Today, July and August 2010, http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_07/RusChem

5. Interview with President Assad of Syria, Der Spiegel, January 19, 2009 http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,602110-2,00.html