chapter  6
42 Pages

The UK and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Negotiating History: March–September 1971: The Key Months

The year began with the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) biological weapons convention negotiations in stalemate. The Soviet Union and its allies, and indeed the non-aligned states (the G12), still opposed separation of BW from CW as envisaged in the draft UK Convention first tabled in 1969 and subsequently amended.1 For the UK there were two key issues that had to be covered in the Convention: prohibition of use and investigation of complaints of alleged use, which the UK believed were the only sort of meaningful compliance provisions that could be devised for biological weapons. British pursuit of effective verification provisions in disarmament treaties had been longstanding and remained a bone of contention between East and West. These were critical provisions in what transpired to be the decisive year of negotiations for the UK and were relentlessly pursued. The negotiations can be divided into two periods: March through to August 1971, and August to September when the final and crucial negotiations were completed.2 This chapter will also highlight just how tortuous any text based multilateral negotiations are – words and phrases matter a great deal, hence the concentration and anxieties surrounding them.