Workshop on "Recent Developments in Arms Control"

Session 1: The Chemical Weapons Convention

BY WALTER DORN

The presentation was illustrated by slides, starting from the first use of poison gas on the Western Front of the First World War on April 22nd, 1915. The widespread abhorrence of chemical warfare led to the development, through the League of Nations, of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. States signing this Protocol agreed to the banning of the use in war of both chemical and bacteriological agents. The one page Protocol, on display at the CWC signin-,.. ceremonies in Paris in January 1993, was in stark contrast to the CWC, which has 172 pages. Walter confirmed that it is a much weightier document as he carried it from the convention hall in Paris to a taxi at the start of its journey to New York. He also expressed the hope that we might be discussing the final chapters of the history of Chemical Weapons.

Walter chronicled many of the steps leading to the Paris ceremony, both forward and backwards. Among the backward steps were the military preparations of the 1930s carried out by some of the states which signed the Geneva Protocol, the invention of nerve agents in the 1930s, use of CW in various military anu anti-civilian operations (including those by Iraq in the 1980s), and the US decision in 1987 to develop binary CW warheads.

He discussed the forward steps, including the development of verification technology and procedures, incorporation of decision-making mechanisms in cases of suspected violations, to the final Convention document. He noted that the idea that all ratifying states pass their own penal legislation under which individual violators can be prosecuted originated among colleagues in the Markland Group. These ideas were published by Science for Peace/Samuel Stevens in “Disarmament’s Missing Dimension” in 1990, and later that year were incorporated into the so-called “rolling text” of the CWC. Following the use of CW in the Middle East in the 1980s the Australia Group developed a regime of export controls with a high level of industrial cooperation. The Finnish government through its “Blue Book” series on CW verification technology which helps promote uniform international standards is providing further evidence of the global interest in making the CWC truly effective. This has also shown how smaller and middle powers can contribute greatly to arms control.

The headquarters or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be situated in The Hague, which is also the seat of the International Court of Justice. It will coordinate “on-site” inspections with the ratifying states’ designated National Authorities to ensure the destruction of all existing stockpiles of CW, the non-production of CW and the control of scheduled chemical substances. Additional information on the operation, responsibilities and composition of the OPCW in the form of a handout was distributed to attendees.

Short additional presentations were made by Dr. Clive Holloway, Chair of the Biological and Chemical Defence Review Committee (BCDRC) and by Douglas Scott, President of the Markland Group. The active and extended questions and answers that followed the presentations has not yet been transcribed. This is also the situation for Sessions 2 and 3.

Session 2: Stability and Arms Control in Outer Space

BY DR. GEORGE LINDSEY

Space technology as applied to Outer Space is understood to include only objects in earth orbits, thereby excluding all Ballistic Missiles (BMs), even those of intercontinental range (ICBMs). Early satellites in low earth orbits (LEO) were very small, with no direct military significance, but their existence raised fears that they might be followed by larger versions carrying weapons. Modern developments of orbiting satellites demonstrate an amazing variety of both military and civilian functions, but these do not include the direct attack of targets on the surface of the earth.

The overlap between civilian and military applications of outer space technology must be considered carefully, so that actions to restrict military uses would have minimal impact on desirable civilian applications. Most of the public concern about the “militarization of space” is related to its potential employment for defence against BMs. As outlined in Dr. Lindsey’s earlier talk to the Toronto Chapter, the interception and destruction of a BM in flight is extraordinarily difficult. The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 specifically prohibited the deployment of space-based components of an ABM system, but permitted research. The SDI program in 1983 raised fears of deployment of orbiting interception weapons, but with end of the Cold War, ICBM reductions and the growing threat of proliferation of shorter range BMs, the whole program has changed to just Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).

At present no arms control agreements specifically forbid Anti-Satellite (ASAT) systems, which could threaten opponents’ space surveillance and communications systems. The problem of limiting ASAT is inextricably interconnected with BMD, as any system able to destroy a long-range BM in the mid-course phase of its trajectory can destroy a satellite in LEO. However, the technology is such that the prohibition of space-based ASAT will do little to protect satellites unless accompanied by limitations on surface-based AS AT.

In considering Space and International Stability, Dr. Lindsey pointed out that the pertinent military applications for the 1990s should be considered separately from the era of Superpower confrontation of the 1970s and 1980s. In place of strategic nuclear deterrence, bi-lateral arms control agreements and actions, the 1990s will require peace restoration, peacekeeping and multi-lateral arms control. Military actions to support stability will require great flexibility and support from space-based surveillance and communications. These two categories of equipment have many civilian uses as well and can be seen as primarily stabilizing for international security, as they were during the Cold War. Space based weapons, on the other hand, are not presently used, the main incentives to deploy them would be for ABM or ASAT purposes. He concluded that it would not be productive to seek idealistic comprehensive solutions to strengthening of international stability by placing widespread restrictions on what will be allowed in space technology.

Session 3: The NPT and CTBT Where are we headed? A UN Perspective

BY PEGGY MASON

Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament.

Peggy Mason’s talk started and finished with references to the imminent decision that President Clinton has to make about the US nuclear testing moratorium. The context of the body of the talk was drawn from notes for a speech given in Kyoto, Japan at a multilateral disarmament conference sponsored by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.

She discussed answers to some questions posed about the significance of a CTBT in a post Cold War era and what its benefits might be, as well as the role it could have in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons, usually called horizontal proliferation. The direct impact of the CTBT would be to restrict weapon modernization, other treaties such as the INF, START 1 and START 2 deal with reduction of the numbers of weapons (modernization and the number of weapons are the features of vertical proliferation). The general recognition of Israel as having become an undeclared nuclear weapons (NW) state shows that a CTB does not preclude the spread to new countries. She emphasised that the most important benefit of the CTBT is its connection to the entire nuclear non-proliferation regime. This connection rests with the moral authority of the declared NW states who make up the five permanent members (P5) of the Security Council. It acts through the bargain the P5 made with the non-NW states when the NPT was negotiated, entrenched in Article 6, that the P5 would work to reduce their arsenals and eventually give up their “have” status.

Ms. Mason related how, at the 1990 NPT Review Conference, the question arose as to whether vertical or horizontal proliferation should be considered more important. The Canadian answer would be that one should not be held hostage to the other and the action of Argentina and Brazil in seeking safeguards through ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelloco can be considered very encouraging and avoiding the problems associated with choosing vertical or horizontal. Giving credence to the choice has the effect of shielding rather than exposing would-be proliferators, such as India.

There is growing international pressure that all the P5 should move quickly to negotiating a CTBT. Only the UK and China do not have officially announced moratoria at this instant (the UK is involuntarily hitched on to the US’ moratorium). The US Congress passed the Energy and Water Resources Bill last Fall which President Bush had to sign into law, giving effect to a moratorium which would last until July 1st, 1993. The Pentagon and the Department of Energy maintain more testing is necessary for “safety and reliability” purposes and suggested (unsuccessfully) that tests with yields of <1 kiloton would be legitimate. The counter arguments are that the real reason for resuming testing is to maintain expertise in the weapons labs’ staff and that if the US resumes testing, all the others will follow suit. President Clinton has to make the decision on whether or not to *extend the moratorium right now, at a time when the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency has only an Acting Dijector and many of the senior staff are in transition.

Ms. Mason concluded her presentation with a plea that all interested attendees make their views known through the usual routes of letters to the press and public talks. A lively question and response period followed.

Just over 30 people attended the three sessions, which started at 9 am and continued until 4 pm. The organizers acknowledge with thanks the financial contributions from the Franz Blumenfeld Peace Fund and UNICOLL Credit Union. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science of Ryerson Polytechnic University endorsed the project.

Summaries of the presentations by the Discussion Leaders were prepared by Peter Brogden. Session I summary was taken from tape recordings of the session. Session 2 summary was taken from Dr. Lindsey’s notes. Session 3 summary was taken from the transcription from tapes by Dominick Jenkins.

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ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)