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August 6, 1997

Production and Use of Biological Weapons: Need for International Sanctions?

Author Affiliations

University of Maryland College Park

JAMA. 1997;278(5):387-388. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550050049027

To the Editor.  —Offical US government assessments indicate that from 1972 through 1975, when the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) was signed and came into force, 4 countries in the world had biological weapons (BW) development programs. In the 1990s, that number is around 10 and includes China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Taiwan, with the status of the BW programs that existed in the past in Russia and South Africa ambiguous at present.1-6 It is not clear exactly how many of these nations are currently producing or stockpiling BW agents, but apparently 2 or 3 (possibly China, Iran, and Iraq) may be.1-6 Of particular significance is the fact that several of these 10 nations are signatories of the BWC, which prohibits both the development and production of BW.There was no serious international response to the use of chemical weapons by Iraq against