Politique étrangère Articles from Politique Etrangère

Bio Arms, the Ultimate 21st Century Weapon Thérèse Delpech, Politique étrangère, 1/2005, (Spring).

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The 20th century, which cannot be said to have run short of massacres, has witnessed only a minute number of confirmed biological attacks. The reason for such a sparse use of biological weapons had less to do with international commitments undertaken by the vast majority of nations in 1925, than with questions raised within the military with regard to the actual practical utility of such weapons on the battlefield. This did not however prevent the Soviet Union from building a real biological empire for itself, nor did it prevent the proliferation of biological weapons programs in a large number of developing countries. The interest which terrorist groups manifest towards these types of weapons does moreover justify the development of a new approach towards proliferation and the possession of biological weapons by non-state actors. It is for all these reasons that the experience acquired in the 1990s through international inspection processes or revelations regarding states which have been conducting offensive biological activities –the Soviet Union, Iraq and South Africa– is so precious. Lessons may be learnt in order to improve prevention, detection and protection. The first line of defense against biological weapons is indeed the rational appraisal of all that has been witnessed and realized in the past, as well as all that is known today. Thérèse Delpech is Head of Prospective at the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA) and Research Fellow at the Centre d'études et de recherches internationales (CERI-FNSP) in Paris. She is Representative at the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and Member of the Blix Commission about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).