Tags: U.S. | Leaning | Against | Germ | Weapon | Treaty

U.S. Leaning Against Germ Weapon Treaty

Monday, 21 May 2001 12:00 AM

A Hungarian diplomat, Tibor Toth, has overseen the effort to negotiate the language in a draft protocol during six years of negotiations and will visit Washington this week to try to counter a confidential Bush administration review that has recommended against acceptance.

The protocol would strengthen a 1972 treaty ratified by 143 nations that prohibits the development, production and possession of biological weapons but which had no provision to confirm compliance.

The Bush administration, the Times said, has been far more skeptical about the protocol language than the Clinton administration, saying its deficiences cannot be remedied by the November negotiating deadline.

"If it still needs to be fixed, we have the time," Toth told the Times. "If the world community fails to agree on a protocol to strengthen the ban on biological weapons after six years of talks, it will send a very unfortunate message."

The United States has worked to limit the scope of on-site inspections to protect proprietary civilian products at the pharmaceutical laboratories that could be subject to industrial espionage and has objected to inspection of biological defense installations run by the Pentagon. Several other countries also are balking at the inspection requirements.

Under the protocol a special council's permission would be necessary for requests to inspect suspicious biological research facilities, a different approach from the chemical weapons inspection regime which provides for routine inspections of all relevant facilities unless the council votes to block them.

The protocol's supporters say its goal is to increase the odds that cheaters would be caught, not to provide total assurance that every improper germ or chemical weapon would be detected.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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A Hungarian diplomat, Tibor Toth, has overseen the effort to negotiate the language in a draft protocol during six years of negotiations and will visit Washington this week to try to counter a confidential Bush administration review that has recommended against acceptance....
U.S.,Leaning,Against,Germ,Weapon,Treaty
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2001-00-21
Monday, 21 May 2001 12:00 AM
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