Kosal on Biological Weapons Verification in the 21st Century

As part of the BioWeapons Prevention Project (BWPP)'s RevCon Project, INTA Assistant Professor Margaret E. Kosal was invited to contribute to a series of invited online discussions on issues related to the 7th Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Review Conference.

Her commentary on "The role of biological verification as part of 21st century international security strategy" was published last week (http://www.bwpp.org/revcon-verification.html). In the article, she explores the role (and limitations) of biological weapons verification, particularly in context of the UN-backed UNSCOM and UNMOVIC verification missions to Iraq following the first Gulf War and the relationship of those efforts to the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003. The relationship of biological verification to broader strategic postures, such as deterrence, is also considered.

Kosal writes "during the time UNSCOM and UNMOVIC were operating in Iraq there was no evidence of new biological weapons research or development. At the same time, the limits of monitoring and onsite verification were substantive and significant enough in the minds of people inside and outside of political institutions â€" on both sides of the Atlantic â€" to generate doubt and uncertainty. The US and those allies who supported Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) hedged on the side on uncertainty. If one wants verification to be strategically significant a priori rather than post-invasion, resolving those uncertainties and making them significant for the broader strategic context must be achieved."


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Bernard Gourley
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs
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