This book explores how revolutionary developments and convergence of the chemical, life and associated sciences are impacting contemporary toxin and bioregulator research, and examines the risks of such research being misused for malign purposes. Investigating illustrative cases of dual use research of potential concern in China, India, Iran, Russia, Syria and the USA, the authors discuss how states can ensure such research and related activities are not utilised in weapons development. Although toxins and bioregulators are, in theory, covered by both the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention, this apparent overlap in reality masks a dangerous regulatory gap – with neither Convention implemented effectively to address threats of weaponisation. This book highlights the potentially damaging consequences for international peace and security, and proposes realistic routes for action by states and the scientific community.
I have spent the bulk of my professional life working on efforts to uncover and destroy banned chemical and biological weapons. Michael Crowley and Malcolm R. Dando have written this extraordinarily timely and important book on toxin and bioregulator weapons, an often-overlooked area that exists in the overlap, or rather as the authors argue gap, between the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The ongoing revolution in the life sciences, bioengineering, and the explosion in our understanding of the chemical processes that control us all is leading to incredible advances in medicine. The risks that these same beneficial new capabilities will be misused to develop even better and more precise toxin and bioregulator weapons, despite international conventions prohibiting them, are increasing. Russia’s vicious and unprovoked war against Ukraine is once again highlighting the fact that its use of such banned weapons of mass destruction is quite possible. The Chief of Russia’s NBC Defense Forces General Igor Kirillov, who oversees three top secret suspected biological weapons laboratories in Kirov, Sergeev Posad and Yekaterinburg, has been spewing outrageous lies falsely accusing Ukrainian public health laboratories of developing biological weapons. These accusations raise the very real possibility that, as U.S. and U.K. intelligence have revealed, Russia may be planning to launch false flag attacks with these hideous weapons. Fast acting toxin and bioregulator weapons are among the most likely types Russia would use against Ukrainian forces and soft civilian targets.
This scholarly account of the impact of recent scientific advances on toxin and bioregulator weapons by two of the world’s foremost experts on this topic will serve as an enduring textbook for scholars, scientists and diplomats alike.The six country case studies, on China, India, Iran, Syria, Russia and the United States, make clear how hard it is to determine the intent behind dual-use research of concern. As the international community looks for ways to update and strengthen enforcement of the BTWC and CWC, this book will provide a valuable resource. It will also cause countries in compliance with treaty obligations to work harder to provide assurances to the world that there is no intent to develop banned weapons. Finally, diplomats should leverage this penetrating research to identify new ways to make it harder for countries to hide and deny efforts to develop these horrific weapons. As President Obama said, we must not let the worst weapons of the twentieth Century darken the twenty-first.
Hon. Andy Weber
Senior Fellow, Council on Strategic Risks; Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs
Washington, DC, USA
“Unrivalled collection of concrete examples from across the globe of research where potential for weaponisation and opportunities for repression are high, but intent is unclear or could easily be misperceived. A substantial contribution to the current international debate on how we can raise political and legal barriers to prevent States misusing life science advances.” (Filippa Lentzos, Senior Lecturer in Science and International Security, King's College London, UK)“This book investigates the often-neglected issue of the regulation of mid-spectrum agents under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention through the application of a standardised methodology to six country case studies: China, India, Iran, Russia, Syria and the United States. It reviews how we should think about preventing the misuse and promoting non-proliferation of chemical substances such as toxins and bio-regulators that affect our physical life, and raises important issues within the framework of both the biological weapons prohibition and the chemical weapons prohibition. It also asks the key question of how should we respond to the current state of research and development in the life sciences? The book’s approach to the dual-use nature of advanced life science research on chemicals is a must-read for all concerned.” (Nariyoshi Shinomiya, President of the National Defense Medical College of Japan) “The deadly wars in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq have shown the continuing potential and real risks of large-scale use of banned chemical and biological agents and munitions, while other malign applications are evident from recent chemical assassination attempts in Russia, Britain, and Malaysia. This new volume by Crowley and Dando sheds light on the dangerously neglected threats from toxin and bioregulator weapons and gives stark warning that current failure to regulate the rapidly advancing chemical and life sciences could allow development of new forms of such weapons capable of attacking diverse human life processes. It well argues for the need to urgently strengthen implementation of both the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention to comprehensively address these dangers. It is highly recommended to all readers involved in international law and security; arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation; chemical and biological research and industry; and associated science and technology horizon scanning.” (Paul F. Walker, Vice Chair, Arms Control Association, and International Coordinator, CWC Coalition)