Gene Watch Conference

Biological Weapons and the New Genetics - Avoiding the Threat

Section 2: Verification & Compliance
a) What’s Needed: Dr. Oliver Meier (of VERTIC, The Verification Research, Training and Information Centre.)
b) Response: Dr. David Kelly
c) Discussion chaired by: Dr. Alistair Hay

Section 2a: What’s needed: Dr. Oliver Meier 

Biological weapons are the only area without a verification protocol. Without verification there is no transparency,; no confidence building; proliferators are not exposed; no clarification of suspicions; no demonstration of compliance. Verification also deters violations since there is the risk of exposure, and also a cost increase in violating because of the need for greater secrecy. The Royal society has a document on the concept of verification. and outlines a concept of what a protocol would and would not do.

Who should be involved in verification.

Three groups:
States can verify. There are problems with this kind of verification. It is the gain of intelligence by the verifying state on the verified state. But states have resources that are required in the process.
Verification can be non-governmental. e.g. epidemiological, media, etc. Although these contribute and in fact raise awareness that there may be a non-compliance issue. There are also issues of consistency. Universities and Multinationals so have a part to play.
Probably the best route is a special organisation set up by the protocol to receive declarations of sensitive sites, carry out informed routine inspections, and within the terms of an agreed protocol, to carry out challenge inspections, and to draw on other resources as necessary.


Overall verification procedures are more about deterrence than detection. No verification regime can give a 100% assurance. Biological weapons are even more difficult than conventional weapons. This is because the plants used for the production of vaccines and other biological and pharmaceutical supplies are directly convertible into plants for creation biological weapons. the range of sites declared is therefore much greater, and verification regimes particularly difficult in terms of what may and may not be done on site, because sample taking and movement of and testing of samples may be hazardous nit the extreme,e , and interfere significantly with the normal procedures of a laboratory.
The protocol would establish a monitoring organisation "The Organisation for the Prevention of Biological Warfare." = OPBW


the Protocol would raise the cost of no-compliance by imposing the need for a clandestine operations if the convention was to the broached. It would also create uncertainty for the proliferator, and Assure Biological Weapons Convention compliance to the International Community.  It would require declarations of relevant facilities, a procedure for visits, and mechanisms to clarify undeclared sites.
the OPBW would not have the right to check the completeness of a declaration; the OPBW could not trigger challenge visits, but should be involved in discussions to enable a private resolution of concerns between party states.


Finals decisions over action concerning states not complying with the protocol would rest with the Security Council.
The real challenge would be to bring problem states into the regime of verification. A protocol would provide incentives to join, because there would be a political focus on states that refuse to join in. The protocol would also need procedures for lesser as well as serious cases of non-compliance.

What is Needed.

1. The BWC requires an interplay of all available resources both from , Government, non-government, and multinational. A protocol is indispensable.
2. Needs a strong role for visits. must be more than a form of bio-tourism - verification requires some teeth. Verification organisation must be open, and there is a need to evolve special technology for verification.


An impotent monitoring protocol would actually create suspicion and eventually aggravate proliferation of the such weaponry.

b) Response: Dr. David Kelly

(Dr David Kelly is a former biological weapons inspector with UNSCOM, and was involved in inspections in Russia and Iraq.)

Real Bombs

Dr Kelly began his talk with a photograph of two bombs that were lying around on an airfield in Iraq. At first they had ignored these because they appeared conventional weapons for delivery by aircraft. However later inspection of markings upon the casings indicated that they were biological weapons. One simply carrying an additional marking of the Arabic letter A, recording that this was in fact an Anthrax bomb.

Different from proposed BWTC Protocol

Although he has experience in verification the environment of the inspection was totally different from that proposed under the BWTC.
Initial research was required into the intent of research, existing manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical and agricultural spheres. Also they needed to inspect both heavy and light engineering and to look at their design and the possible application in munitions. Further examination of existing weapons systems and and exploration of military doctrine was required.
Since in both cases there was no will on the part of the state to be inspected the inspection regimes received no-co-operation, and in fact deliberate evasion on occasions.


This requires declarations by the country concerned on what is has and has not got. The declaration needs confirmation, and then ambiguities need to be clarified. This is followed by a technical report, Which is followed by a diplomatic and Political response, and possibly a military response.

What is verification.

Confirmation that the declaration is complete and valid. In the environment of Iraq, the country was required to demonstrate that its declaration was true.


Positive verification
Identification of forbidden weapons leading to disarmament and their confirmed destruction.

Negative Verification
leads to monitoring of suspect areas.


c) Discussion chaired by: Dr. Alistair Hay

Notes on discussion.
Dr. Meier; The Biotechnology of detection is improving with incredible rapidity. It is essential to separate technical investigation from political control.
Dr. Kelly; Accusations were made of UNSCOM officers being spies- these were totally unfounded.
Do not underestimate the values of simply getting on site (even though biotourism is not a problem.)
Iraqi seed stocks for biological weapons came from the US, since that time rules have been tightened.
What Happens if the US does not join the protocol? Dr. Meier: without the US there is no real protocol. Maybe go it alone or wait.