Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gregory D. Koblentz's "Living Weapons"

Gregory D. Koblentz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs and Deputy Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University. The Biodefense Graduate Program is a graduate-level research and educational program designed to develop the next generation of biodefense and biosecurity professionals and scholars. Dr. Koblentz is also a Research Fellow with the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Scientist Working Group on Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, DC. He received his Ph.D. in political science from MIT and his M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His research and teaching focus on international security, terrorism, homeland security, and weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Koblentz is the author of Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009) and co-author of Tracking Nuclear Proliferation (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1998). He has also published articles in International Security, Nonproliferation Review, Arms Control Today, and Jane’s Intelligence Review.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Living Weapons, and reported the following:
The proliferation of biological weapons (BW) is one of the most pressing security issues of the twenty-first century. My book, Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security, provides a comprehensive analysis of the unique challenges that biological weapons pose for international security from the perspectives of verification, deterrence, civil-military relations, terrorism and intelligence.

Page 99 is in the middle of a chapter on the verification of biological arms control. The core problem in verifying compliance with biological arms control agreements is that the capabilities for conducting the research, development, production, and testing of biological weapons are virtually identical to those employed by defensive programs and in legitimate civilian enterprises. The overlap between the equipment, materials and knowledge required to develop biological weapons, conduct civilian biomedical research, and develop biological defenses creates what I call a multiuse dilemma. The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) which bans the development or production of biological weapons does not include a mechanism for verifying the treaty. International negotiations to craft a verification protocol for the treaty collapsed in 2001.

On page 99, I am describing the end of the United Nations efforts to investigate Iraq’s biological weapon program in the 1990s. The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), which operated in Iraq between 1991 and 1998, represents the most important effort by the international community to verify biological arms control. UNSCOM was the most intrusive arms control regime ever devised and had access to an unprecedented range of inspection techniques and technologies. Although UNSCOM was successful in uncovering aspects of Iraq’s past BW activities, a comprehensive account of Iraq’s biological agent research, production, testing, and weaponization only emerged following the defection of a high-level Iraqi official in August 1995. The UNSCOM experience provides insight into how the multiple uses of biological technologies complicates verification and the extraordinary measures that were required to overcome Iraq’s attempts to retain an offensive BW capability based on multiuse technologies.

Here is an excerpt from page 99:

Since its first revelations of an offensive BW program in July 1995, Iraq had submitted three Full, Final, and Complete Disclosures of its proscribed biological program to UNSCOM. Given the lies, half-truths, and omissions contained in these declarations, one inspector dubbed these documents “full, final and complete fairy tales.”
Read an excerpt from Living Weapons, and learn more about the book at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue