CBW Events is a project to create a record of events to enable and encourage understanding of how policies on the issues relating to chemical and biological warfare (CBW) and its prevention are developed.

CBW Events -- August 2021 selections

Each month, entries for a small number of selected anniversaries of notable CBW-related events are posted. All will appear in the relevant final versions of the chronologies.

20 years ago | 40 years ago | 45 years ago | 50 years ago

20 years ago:

30 August 2001     The UN Secretary-General submits to the Security Council UNMOVIC's sixth quarterly report [see 24 May].[1] The report covers the period from 1 June to 31 August, including the sixth meeting of the college of commissioners [see 2829 August]. During the period of the report, the Executive Chairman, Hans Blix, has provided monthly briefings to the Presidents of the Security Council. Although still not able carry out operations in Iraq, the Commission has continued to prepare for such operations. A priority task has been the identification of unresolved disarmament issues. The report states that "it is clear that many disarmament issues have been resolved in the years since the adoption of resolution 687 (1991). ... It is also clear that, while some issues may have lost importance because of the passage of time, key disarmament tasks remain". The list of unresolved issues is intended to serve as the basis for the identification of the key remaining disarmament tasks once UNMOVIC has started its work in Iraq. In the absence of on-site inspections in Iraq, the Commission is concentrating on diversifying its other sources of information. It is now receiving overhead imagery from a commercial provider, is arranging for the screening of a great many open sources, and is also seeking to obtain information from governments. The report emphasizes that such activities, while valuable, "cannot serve as substitutes for the on-site inspection and monitoring envisaged by relevant Security Council resolutions". The report notes that UNMOVIC staff have completed the revision and updating of the lists of dual-use items and materials to which the EXIM monitoring mechanism applies [see 1 June]. The new lists had entered into force on 13 June. UNMOVIC staff have also been consolidating the Commission's database and archive, which consists of over one million documents, into one system with a uniform classification. In addition, some 13,000 aerial images have also been catalogued and entered into the archive.
     [1] Sixth quarterly report of the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission under paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999), as annexed to UN document S/2001/833, dated 30 August 2001.


40 years ago:

13 August 1981     The Iranian official news agency publishes more details of the "recently employed chemical materials" in the Tamarchin mountain area near Piranshahr. The agency describes the weapons as emitting "a kind of gas which causes nausea and dizziness in people subject to it" and calls them "inhuman".[1]
     [1] Pars news agency, 0825 GMT 13 August 1981, as reported in "Allegations of Chemical Warfare Practiced by Iraq", BBC-SWB, 14 August 1981, ME/6801/A/1.


45 years ago:

6 August 1976     In Geneva, the United Kingdom tables a "Draft Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction"[1] at the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament.
     Features of this draft, which runs to 17 articles, include: declarations on signature of whether states possesed chemical weapons, and if so, types and quantities as well as details of production facilities; and on-site inspection provisions, including challenge inspections. It draws on elements of earlier drafts proposed by the USSR in March 1972 and Japan in April 1974.
     Just under a week later, on 12 August, the UK delegation introduces the draft Convention in plenary session at the CCD. The introduction of the draft attracts some press attention.[2]
     [Note: the text was compiled by Ian Kenyon, at this time a member of the British delegation to the CCD, later to become the Executive Secretary of the OPCW Preparatory Commission]
     [1] United Kingdom, "Draft Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction", CCD/512, 6 August 1976.
     [2] Example articles include: [no author listed], Associated Press, as in: "U.K. Offers Draft On Chemical War", International Herald Tribune, 13 August 1976; Rod Chapman, "Chemical war ban urged by Britain", The Guardian (London), 13 August 1976; [no author listed], "Pact to stop chemical war drafted", The Times (London), 13 August 1976; [no author listed], "Draft Pact Ready on Chemical Arms", New York Times, 13 August 1976, p B10; Paul Betts, "British chemical warfare initiative", Financial Times, 14 August 1976; [no author listed], "Disarmament by phases", Nature, 19 August 1976, p 639; and [no author listed], "Britain proposes a curb on chemical warfare", New Scientist, 19 August 1976, p 372.


50 years ago:

5 August 1971     In Geneva, the Soviet Union and the United States table a joint draft text[1] for a Biological Weapons Convention to the on-going negotiations at the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament. Key aspects of this new draft, include new texts for some of the operative articles.
     Within this text, Article I reads: "Each State Party to this Convention undertakes not to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: (1) Microbial or other biological agents or toxins of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic or other peaceful purposes; (2) Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict ". Article II reads: "Each State Party to this Convention undertakes to destroy, or to divert to peaceful purposes, as soon as possible but not later than ___ months after the entry into force of the Convention all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery specified in Article I of the Convention, which are in its possession or under its jurisdiction or control. In implementing the provisions of this Article all necessary safety precautions shall be observed to protect the population and the environment."
     [1] Both documents are entitled "Draft convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction". The Soviet version bears the document number CCD/337, with the US one numbered CCD/338.

10 August 1971     In plenary session at the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva, the recently published joint US-USSR draft text for a Biological Weapons Convention is under discussion.
     The British Ambassador to the CCD, Henry Hainworth states:[1] "Members of the Committee know already of the interest of my delegation in the question of the prohibition of "use". It has always been the United Kingdom view that any convention we negotiate on biological weapons should be as comprehensive as possible. The differences between the scope of the provisions contained in the United Kingdom proposal CCD/255/Rev.2 and those contained in the present parallel drafts are perhaps most clearly illustrated by the difference between the titles of those two documents. The draft in CCD/255/Rev.2 is entitled Revised draft Convention for the Prohibition of Biological Methods of Warfare. This expresses the objective which the United Kingdom delegation feels the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament should strive to achieve. The new drafts are confined to a Draft convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction. This is a less ambitious objective. ... The United Kingdom delegation believes that an ideal convention on biological weapons should include an article providing for the express renunciation by all parties of the use of such means of warfare. A number of my colleagues have expressed the contrary view, arguing that such a provision is inappropriate to the sort of convention we are now trying to elaborate. Various arguments have been used. The first argument has usually been that by repeating in the new draft convention an undertaking that is already enshrined in the Geneva Protocol of 1925 we should somehow detract from the significance of the existing prohibition prescribed by that Protocol. This I find totally unconvincing. Under the Geneva Protocol the parties promise not to do certain things in specified circumstances. One of these promises is not to use bacteriological methods of warfare. That promise was made in circumstances in which nothing was said about the preparation of such methods of warfare. The new convention which we are seeking to elaborate goes further, by providing for agreement not to prepare those methods of warfare. It is entirely relevant to repeat the earlier promise in an instrument to which it is wholly germane".
     He goes on to say: "Under these [parallel] drafts, however, I am advised that legally the reservations to the Geneva Protocol will continue to subsist, conferring a legally-valid international right to retaliatory use of the weapons we are discussing by those who have made reservations of this nature. If this legal entitlement subsists, then there is bound to be a risk that other parties to the new biological-weapons convention we are negotiating might become suspicious and fearful of what would otherwise be quite innocent activities. This, in turn, might lead to a weakening of the convention. It is rather the failure to enunciate the repudiation of all use of these weapons completely than its reiteration that would detract from the significance of the existing prohibition prescribed by the Geneva Protocol of 1925".
     [1] Speech as reproduced in CCD document CD/PV.528. See also: [no author listed], "Britain seeks to improve germ war treaty", Times (London), 11 August 1971; and [no author listed], "Britain and Canada Propose Changes in Germ-War Draft", New York Times, 11 August 1971.


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