Russia may not be in compliance with Biological Weapons Convention

A new U.S. State Department report reveals that the United States does not believe that Russia is in full compliance with its treaty obligations in regards to biological and chemical weapons.

The 2010 report says that Russia has continued to participate in dual-use biological research, the Washington Post Reports. While there is no clear indication that they are participating in activities that are inconsistent with the Biological Weapons Convention, it is unclear as to whether or not they have fulfilled their treaty obligations, the report says.

The Soviet Union signed the BWC in 1972, and, in 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin decreed that Russia would inherit the stipulations found in the treaty. The U.S. and several other countries have offered to work with Russia, specifically with the Cooperative Threat Reduction and International Science and Technology Center programs, to ensure its compliance.

The State Department expressed similar concern in the field of chemical weapons. The report states that it is unclear whether or not Russia has abided by the Chemical Weapons Convention with regards to its production facilities, developments facilities and stockpiles. It also remains unknown whether Russia is properly adhering to the CWC with regards to its subsequent verification obligations.

In 1997, Yeltsin signed the Russian Federal Law on Chemical Weapons Destruction, and, since then, funding has increased for its elimination program and to support the creation of seven disposal facilities. Nonetheless, information on the state of the Russian stockpile remains, according to the report, incomplete. It appears that Russia also may not have declared the entirety of its production facilities. As of 2008, Russia has not agreed to hold expert-level consultations with the United States.

Seven out of the eight Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee requested the new State Department Compliance Report earlier this month, the Washington Post reported. The senators were concerned about the last report, written in 2005, that described violations of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991. A new treaty to replace START I is in the works, with most Republicans yet to declare how they intend to vote.

Meanwhile, in part because of Russia’s intransigence, some senate Republicans are making tough conditions for the approval of the new treaty. President Barack Obama hopes to have the treaty ratified by year’s end, when Democrats will likely lose several congressional seats.