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weapons. One of the principal characteristics of biological agents that may make their use attractive to non-state actors is their toxicity. Potential use of such agents by terrorist or criminal elements would be extremely disruptive. These agents are insidious, difficult to trace and extremely resource-intensive to counter, both in terms of medical counter measures and law enforcement. Dual-use technol- ogy and the widespread expertise associated with modern biological industries exacerbate the difficulties associated with countering this type of proliferation. Although the use and possession of biological weapons have been prohibited since the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Biological and Toxin Weapons, it remains extremely difficult to implement suitable verification measures. Unlike conven- tional arms-control regimes where it is possible to count specific objects, such as tanks and artillery pieces, and establish verification benchmarks, this option is not readi- ly available in the case of biological agents. It remains important to pursue efforts to ensure that the 1972 Convention is an effective instrument to counter the grow- ing threat of biological weapons.

NR: What other threats appear most dangerous to you at present? TW: There are risks related to biological and chemical agents, toxic industrial chemicals, as well as radiological devices. Beyond that, ballistic-missile proliferation remains an issue of serious concern to the Alliance. In this area, the Alliance remains strongly committed to the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Zangger and Nuclear Suppliers Groups as important ele- ments in our efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery.

NR: Is there an emerging Alliance view on proliferation? On missile defence? TW: The Alliance has recognised since the early 1990s that it is important to strengthen efforts against proliferation. The principal goal remains that of preventing proliferation from taking place, or, should it take place, to reverse it through diplomatic means. Hand in hand with such an approach goes the important role of ensuring an appropri- ate defence posture against the possible use of weapons of mass destruction. The Alliance’s defence posture must have

the capability to address appropriately and effectively the threats that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruc- tion and their means of delivery can pose. It is critical to maintain the flexibility and effectiveness of Alliance forces despite the presence, the threat or the use of nuclear, bio- logical and chemical weapons. In this context, the Alliance draws upon a mix of means to address the challenges of proliferation, including deterrence and offensive and defensive means, and enhancing the effectiveness of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as diplomatic and counter-proliferation measures.

NR: Russia has displayed interest in cooperation with NATO on tactical missile defence. What direction could this take? TW: There have been a number of close and intensive con- sultations with Russia on missile defence. These consulta- tions will continue in the future and are likely to head in two or three generic areas. Firstly, we can discuss the nature of ballistic-missile development in the world, our under- standing of the problem, its scope and the range of efforts to counter it. Secondly, we can discuss concepts, such as a common understanding of the meaning of missile defence, how it can be integrated into the overall concept of Extended Air Defence, how it works in terms of communi- cations and command and control, and what it presupposes in terms of training. And we can also explore potential industrial cooperation that could eventually take place between NATO and Russia on systems that are currently being developed.

NR: Are there any plans to expand WMD Centre activities to include Partner countries? TW: Partners have already had some consultations with the Alliance on proliferation. There have been specific, in- depth bilateral talks with Russia and Ukraine. There have been general discussions within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and, as in the past, disarmament experts’ meetings will continue to take place with Partners. We hope to see this expanded within committee work, so that we can increasingly address the challenges associated with proliferation with all Partners. Contacts and consulta- tions have also begun with Mediterranean Dialogue coun- tries. More work is ongoing to strengthen and deepen all of these consultations.


The NATO Science Programme supports collaborative projects between scientists from Allied and Partner countries. The programme – which is not defence-related – aims to stimulate cooperation between scientists from different backgrounds, to create enduring links between researchers, and to help sustain scientific communities in Partner countries.

Full details can be found on the NATO web site: http://www.nato.int/science

Winter 2001/2002

NATO review 23

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