Differences over language addressing the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria sharply divided the recent review conference for the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Four new states have acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) since January 2013, bringing the total number of states-parties to 170.
The European Parliament passed a resolution Jan. 17 calling for a conference to be held in 2013 on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
The current situation in Syria poses severe risks, but it may be creating an opportunity for the international community to put in place important constraints on Syria’s chemical weapons and armory of missiles.
The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which currently has 165 states-parties, is the principal international legal instrument against biological warfare. Developments in science and technology pose a continuing challenge to the treaty and the broader biological weapons nonproliferation regime. If they are applied to state or nonstate biological weapons programs, these developments can undermine the treaty’s prohibitions.
The head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission last month offered a bleak assessment of the prospects for holding a long-planned conference on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East, citing the “somber realities” in the region.
Although the goal of ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is receiving increased attention, it remains a distant prospect. Achieving such an ambitious goal will require a series of incremental steps even to begin the process. An agreement that bans the development and possession of ballistic missiles capable of flying more than 3,000 kilometers and includes members of the Arab League, Iran, Israel, and Turkey is a reasonable first step toward a WMD-free Middle East.