The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was entered into force in 1975 and has since been ratified by 143 countries and signed by an additional 18. Today, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates at least 12 countries are cheating on their treaty obligations. There is currently no system for monitoring compliance among treaty members, a "black hole" that many experts see as the BTWC's main shortcoming. To close the loopholes in the convention and make it harder for countries to cheat, an ad hoc group formed in 1994 at a Special Conference of the state parties to the BTWC was directed to "strengthen the effectiveness and improve the implementation of the Conventions... and identify and examine potential verification measures." What the group finally produced after six years of deliberation is a protocol--a document...with an inspection regime at its core. The goal of the protocol is to increase BTWC's effectiveness in part by creating a legally binding framework for facility inspections. At a July 25, 2001 meeting of the ad hoc group in Geneva Switzerland, the United States stunned the international community when it became the only nation to reject the protocol.
Environmental Health Perspectives, v.109 no.11, November 2001, p.A538-A541