Down to the Wire on Bioweapons Talks

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Science  20 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5529, pp. 414-416
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5529.414

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CAMBRIDGE, U.K.-- A quarter-century after entering into force, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) still has no mechanism for checking on whether states parties are obeying the ban on developing biological weapons and is little more than an agreement based on trust. On 23 July, the Ad Hoc Group of the States Parties to the BWC will meet in Geneva for a 4-week session to hammer out rules that BWC state parties must abide by. The measures would include mandatory investigations of facilities suspected of contravening the treaty as well as visits to declared facilities that are not under suspicion, plus export controls on organisms and technologies that might be used to develop biological weapons. The challenge will be to win over U.S. policy-makers.