Minding Our Own Business: The Role of the Private Sector in Managing the WMD Supply Chain   [open pdf - 128KB]

This article featured in WMD Insights, February 2009, Issue 30 discusses the importance of the private sector in management of the WMD supply chain. The following is taken from the article. "In 1992, Allergan, a small U.S. bio-pharmaceutical company, began exporting a new drug that was hailed as a medical breakthrough because of its ability to relieve the debilitating symptoms associated with a range of muscle ailments. From 1992 to 1994, the company sent the product to thousands of doctors across Asia, Europe, and North and South America, tapping an estimated market of $1.5 billion. One of the company's many clients was the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In several instances, the Red Crescent redirected the drug into Iran, which the United States had accused of bioweapons development and which was operating under rigorous trade embargos. In 1998, the U.S. Department of Commerce fined the U.S. company for export violations. The Government was particularly concerned with the trace amounts of botulinum toxin Type-A contained in the product that could be diverted for nefarious uses, even while it provided relief to patients. As a result, some people inferred that the Red Crescent -- and by extension Allergan -- had unwittingly been aiding Iran's bioweapon program. Realizing the unique national security implications of its product, the company has since enacted multiple layers of safeguards above and beyond the legal requirements to prevent sales to customers with potentially malign motives. [...]. These cases, involving two law-abiding pharmaceutical firms, and hundreds of other cases like it, highlight the ease with which states and terrorist organizations could exploit legitimate businesses up and down the supply chain to obtain dual-use knowledge and technologies."

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WMD Insights (February 2009), no.30, p.2-8
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