UN Bio Weapons
Germ warfare talks suspended after shock US proposal
Story No.: 323500
Dateline: Geneva, 7 Dec 2001
Date: 12/07/2001 05:00 AM
1. Ambassador Tibor Toth enters news conference in UN headquarters
2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Tibor Toth, Chairman of the United Nations conference on disarmament and biological weapons
"We have 75 per cent of the text of the draft and declaration consolidated and stemming from that a smaller part of the text remains to be further worked upon. This is the good news. The bad news is that the 25 per cent, as you might understand, is texts which was discussed in several rounds in the general debate in the committee of the all drafting committee, so these elements are quite tough."
3. Wide shot of journalists at news conference
A 144-nation conference has moved to suspend in disarray after the United States proposed to declare "terminated" its efforts to give teeth to the global ban on biological weapons.
The conference, held in Geneva on Friday, had been trying to conclude nearly seven years of negotiations on the so-called draft protocol.
The meeting was halted while diplomats huddled in groups to decide what to do next.
Eventually, diplomats said they decised to suspend the talks for a year.
The United States proposed to declare the talks "terminated" less than two hours before the scheduled close of the three-week meeting on strengthening the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.
The talks had already hit deep divisions over other issues, even as anthrax attacks on the United States focused new attention on the accord.
Much of the negotiating behind the scenes was about how to treat the 210-page protocol and the so-called Ad Hoc Group of nations, which had been drafting the protocol in search of a way to track down violators of the treaty.
Many countries and arms control experts had hoped to preserve the work that had been done in the hope that the U-S would eventually have a change of heart.
Negotiators had agreed on 75 percent of the document of about 20 pages by midnight on Thursday, but the remaining 25 percent contained the most contentious issues, such as the US demand that the focus be put on countries that fail to comply with the treaty.
The US, which has singled out Iraq, North Korea and four other countries as violating the treaty, opposed the protocol because of the inspection system it would have set up.