The war in Ukraine - what is the possibility of the use biological and chemical weapons
Russia has claimed that biological weapons are being developed in laboratories in Ukraine with support from the United States. It says material is being destroyed to conceal the country's weapons programme, but the US says this is "total nonsense" and that Russia is inventing false narratives to justify its actions in Ukraine. Russia has accused the US and Ukraine of working with "pathogens of dangerous infections" in 30 laboratories across the country. Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause disease.
Pressure on the world
Russia can use biological and chemical arms, if it does then this will put massive pressure on the rest of the world to act. It's generally said that the largest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons were accrued during the Cold War. And the two largest players — known to have had (or still have) chemical weapons — were the United States and Soviet Russia. But beyond that it is hard to tell. The Arms Control Association, a political advisory body in the US, says that when the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) came into force in 1997, eight of its signatories declared stockpiles. Those countries included Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Syria, the United States, Russia and one country that remained anonymous.
It has found in Ukraine and the blistering international reaction to its invasion, Syria was a relatively low-cost intervention for Moscow.“The scope of the Ukraine war is different,” said Charles Lister, the director of the Syria and counter-terrorism programme at the Middle East Institute. “But some of the tactics were definitely learned and deployed in Syria.
There are increasing concerns that Russia could be prepared to use chemical weapons to attack Ukraine, with Western officials and strategists warning the threat posed by Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin in this regard is credible and serious.
United Nations awareness
The United Nations is aware of any biological weapons programmes, the High Representative of Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council at an emergency meeting on 11th March 2022 to address related concerns in Ukraine.“Situations such as this demonstrate the need to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention,” said Izumi Nakamitsu, referring to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, which entered into force in 1975.
Aware of media reports on allegations of biological weapons programmes, she encouraged States parties to the Convention — including the Russian Federation and Ukraine — to consider making use of the available procedures to resolve related issues.
The United Nations on March 11 said it was not aware of any biological weapons program in Ukraine, while Washington expressed concern that Russia was spreading the unproven claim in order to launch its own biological or chemical attacks.
Under a 2005 agreement, the Pentagon has assisted several Ukrainian public health laboratories with improving the security of dangerous pathogens and technology used in research. The U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on 11th_March 2022 Washington was "deeply concerned" that Russia called the session as a "false flag effort" aimed at laying the groundwork for its own use of biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine.
In resolution 1540 (2004), the Security Council decided that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes. The resolution requires all States to adopt and enforce appropriate laws to this effect as well as other effective measures to prevent the proliferation of these weapons and their means of delivery to non-State actors, in particular for terrorist purposes.
On 22 April 2021, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2572, which extended, until 28 February 2022, the mandate of the 1540 Committee and its group of experts. At the time, the Council opted for a straightforward renewal of the mandate to allow the Committee to complete the comprehensive review of the implementation of 1540. However, the review has yet to be finalised because the open consultations have not been held.
What should be done
It has become necessary for there to be a role for the United Nations and a mechanism for implementing Security Council resolutions related to the follow-up to the implementation of Resolution 2572, and for the supervision and inspection teams to work by visiting laboratories and centers to ensure their safety, as this is considered a threat to international security.
By: Jassim Mohamad