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CBW Events is a project to create a record of events to enable and encourage understanding of how policies on the issues relating to chemical and biological warfare (CBW) are developed.

CBW Events -- recent/notable additions/updates include: (these links will each open in a new window)

  • July 2016 select anniversaries added (see also below)
  • 2016 BWC PrepCom daily reports, including Arabic translations.
  • Syria chronology updates, including additional time periods.
  • CWC Review Conference daily reports.
  • Links to CWC Resource Guide 2013 for the Third CWC Review Conference added -- electronic copies of the book are now available from the site
  • Links to BWC Briefing Book 2011 for the Seventh BWC Review Conference added -- electronic copies of the book are now available from the site


CBW Events -- July 2016 selections

Each month, entries for a few anniversaries of notable CBW Events are posted. All will appear in the relevant final versions of the chronologies.

20 years ago | 25 years ago | 35 years ago | 40 years ago | 45 years ago | 70 years ago

20 years ago:

1 July 1996     In Baghdad, an UNSCOM biological-weapons team led by Richard Spertzel of the United States arrives for what is planned as an eight-day inspection mission.[1] It is the 36th UN biological inspection team, UNSCOM 146, beginning work on the task of verifying the latest Iraqi biological FFCD [see 19–22 June]. Since Iraq has not provided sufficient supporting documentation, the team uses a technique agreed in the joint programme of action, namely interviews with Iraqi personnel involved in the proscribed programmes. The Iraqi side insists, however, on selecting the people to be interviewed and on determining the modalities of each interview, so, on the instructions of the Executive Chairman, the UNSCOM mission is aborted and the team leaves Iraq on 3 July. The issue is placed on the agenda of the next round of high-level bimonthly talks between the two sides.[2]
     [1] [No author listed] (from Baghdad), "UN weapons inspection team arrives in Baghdad", Xinhua, 1 July 1996, ref 0701011; [No author listed] (from Baghdad), "UN germ warfare experts arrive in Baghdad", Reuter, 1 July 1996.
     [2] Report of the Secretary-General on the Activities of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to paragraph 9(b)(1) of Resolution 687 (1991), as annexed to UN document S/1996/848, 11 October 1996. para 33.


25 years ago:

15 July 1991     A joint paper on the challenge inspection of undeclared facilities is submitted by Australia, Britain, Japan and the United States to the Ad Hoc Committee that is negotiating a Chemical Weapons Convention at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.[1] It proposes treaty provisions whereby the challenged state and the international inspectors negotiate a definition of the perimeter of the site to be inspected, the definition being subject to final approval by the challenged state. In its consequent loosening of the obligation to accept on-site challenge inspections, the proposal is a radical departure from earlier concepts; and it envisages, moreover, a substantially longer period being allowable between the challenge and the inspection.
     The British government, which had long been advocating a more probing managed-access concept, later describes the paper to Parliament as "US proposals for a challenge inspection regime ... co-sponsored by the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia".[2]
     Unidentified US Defense Department sources reportedly say that the reason for the US walk-back from its original "anytime, anywhere" position on challenge inspection is concern for the security of radar-evading Stealth technology and other such advanced military development: as explained by Newsweek, Stealth aircraft are made from spun-graphite cloth using special hardening chemicals, and analysis of vapour samples picked up by CWC inspectors could "reveal the Stealth fabric's secret".[3] "The senators who vote billions for these secret programs want to know they will be protected", a diplomat in Geneva is reported as saying.[4]
     Although such concern for the security of US military technology is appreciated in much of the immediate domestic commentary, the proposal is criticized on the grounds, especially, that it could create loopholes in the overall CWC verification system so large as to render worthless much of the routine inspection machinery already agreed.[5] One of the US Congressional observers of the CWC negotiation, Representative Martin Lancaster, estimates that the proposal would reduce the verifiability of the CWC to "no better than 10 or 15 percent".[6] Commentators observe, apparently on good authority, that the United States has yet to conduct a practice chemical challenge inspection on managed-access principles at any "black" location.[7]
     A New York Times editorial says: "Even as the United Nations is pressing Iraq to open all its chemical weapons facilities to international inspectors, President Bush has backed away from requiring similar inspections to verify a treaty to ban chemical weapons. The new US proposal ... makes a sham of Mr Bush's professed determination to curb proliferation".[8]
     France subsequently proposes strengthening amendments which reportedly have wide support, including that of the other Western Group members and the Soviet Union.[9] These amendments are put forward as an informal proposal.[10]
     [1] Australia, Japan, the UK and the USA, "Recommended text for Article IX — Challenge Inspection", CD/CW/WP.352, 15 July 1991; Lionel Barber (from Washington), "Chemical arms ban proposals diluted"
     [2] Douglas Hogg, Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, written answer, Hansard (Commons), 25 July 1991, c820.
     [3] [no author listed], "Periscope", Newsweek vol 118 no 6, 5 August 1991, p 30.
     [4] Paul Lewis (from Geneva), "US now prefers limited inspection of chemical arms", New York Times, 14 August 1991, pp A1 & A6.
     [5] G K Vachon, "Implementing the CWC", a paper presented at the CSIS conference on Chemical Disarmament and US Security, Washington DC, 16 July 1991; Gerald F Seib, "Bush fires up critics of chemical-arms treaty by forsaking his tough site-inspection scheme", Wall Street Journal, 15 August 1991, p A14.
     [6] [no author listed], "Rep Lancaster advocates strong global chemical weapons treaty", Chemical & Engineering News, 19 August 1991, pp 15-19.
     [7] William Colby and Elisa D Harris, "Look who's barring access to weapons sites", Washington Post, 28 July 1991, p C7.
     [8] Editorial, "Mr Bush plays hide, not seek, on arms", New York Times, 25 July 1991, p 20.
     [9] Paul Lewis (from Geneva), "US now prefers limited inspection of chemical arms", New York Times, 14 August 1991, pp A1 & A6.
     [10] France, undated non-paper, Challenge inspection: proposals of amendment to CD/CW/WP.352.


35 years ago:

4 July 1981     In Madrid, officials of the Spanish government indicate that the number of fatalities from contaminated cooking oil has now reached 60. The cause of the illnesses, now understood to have affected more then 10 000 Spaniards, is believed to be rapeseed oil intended for use as a lubricant in industry. Five arrests for illegally importing and distributing the oil have been made.
     [1] [no author listed], Reuters (from Madrid), as in "Outlawed Cooking Oil Kills No. 60 in Spain", International Herald Tribune, 6 July 1981, p 2.


40 years ago:

2 July 1976     In Geneva, the United Kingdom submits to the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament a "Working Paper on the Feasibility of Extraterritorial Surveillance of Chemical Weapons Tests by Air Monitoring at the Border".[1]
     [1] United Kingdom, "Working Paper on the Feasibility of Extraterritorial Surveillance of Chemical Weapons Tests by Air Monitoring at the Border", CCD/502 [+ Corr.1], 2 July 1976.


45 years ago:

7 July 1971     At the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, the United States Army starts destruction of biological and toxin weapons following President Nixon’s renunciation of such methods of warfare [see 25 November 1969].
     In press reporting, it is noted that some of the agents being destroyed cause few fatalities. Colonel John K Stoner, commander of the destruction facility is quoted as saying "This is one of the benefits of biological and chemical warfare, you can incapacitate people without killing them. It’s more humane".[1]
     [1] Roy Reed (from Pine Bluff), "Army Is Destroying Biological Weapons", New York Times, 14 July 1971.


70 years ago:

22 July 1946     The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations recommends the establishment of a single UN health body at the end of a five-week conference focusing on the issues of health. The conference also drafts a constitution for the proposed "World Health Organization" and nominates an Interim Commission for its establishment. The draft constitution includes within its Preamble: "The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States".
     [Note: The proposed body would replace the League of Nations Health Organization and the Office International d'Hygiène Publique (OIHP). The OIHP had been created in December 1907 with an initial membership of Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US (the signatories of the agreement establishing the OIHP). Headquartered in Paris, the OIHP comprised nearly 60 countries and territories by 1914. The OIHP existed in parallel with the League of Nations health units as the US opposed the OIHP being incorporated as a League of Nations body. During the Second World War, many functions were taken up by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) established in 1943.]