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August 6, 1997

Biological Weapons Arms Control

JAMA. 1997;278(5):442. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550050106049

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The author reviews developments on the international biological weapons scene since major powers signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972 and the Biological Toxins and Weapons Convention took effect in 1975. Original deficiencies of the conventions—permission of research and lack of verification provisions—have been remedied little or not at all, and development of biological weapons has continued, even by parties to the convention. The report reviews evidence on the biological weapons programs in "countries known or strongly suspected of having" programs—the former USSR and Russia, Iraq, China, South Africa, Iran, and North Korea—and on terrorist groups. Leitenberg calls for substantially heightened sanctions by the international community against biological weapons programs.