After the outbreak of the 1991 Gulf War, Israeli civilians within the range of Iraqi SCUD missiles and allied troops in Operation Desert Storm braced themselves for a chemical weapons attack. Despite experts' assessments that Iraq possessed enough chemical weapons to mount a devastating attack, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's threats to use those weapons,3 the fighting ended without a chemical attack. President Bush's veto and the Iraqis' restraint represent just two of the many paradoxes surrounding the proliferation of the "poor man's atom-bomb." This Article analyzes a series of paradoxes emanating from President Bush's campaign against chemical weapons.
Part I examines the four levels of proliferation that realistic controls must address. The first level is the ultimate consumer, consisting of those nations that might use such weapons. The second level consists of foreign companies providing technological assistance to such nations. The third level is composed of United States companies supplying raw materials called "precursors." The fourth level consists of independent brokers linking suppliers with users. Powerful market forces create this combination of unlikely suppliers whose own nations have decried the use of chemical weapons.
Part II outlines the tactical and theoretical attractions of chemical agents for the conventional military and terrorist guerrilla arsenal. A discussion of the efficacy of known chemical agents and their manufacture will frame the practical problems inherent in any program to limit proliferation. These technological problems create another paradox for nations wishing to balance the power in their regions.
Part III examines the Export Administration Act. 4 This legislation authorizes the United States to unilaterally sanction foreign and domestic companies, as well as foreign nations. The tension created by the competing goals of fostering international trade and controlling foreign policy explains the ironic congressional struggle to add chemical warfare sanctions to the Export Administration Act. The evolution of unilateral control of chemical weapons proliferation points to the fundamental deficiencies in United States export policy.
Part IV outlines the international initiative to control chemical weapons through the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. Verification, the critical issue in the multilateral effort to halt proliferation, has created unlikely coalitions within the camps favoring and opposing the multilateral global ban. The Chemical Weapons Convention surmounted many technological impediments to achieve ratification in January, 1993.
Part V suggests both unilateral and multilateral action to resolve the collection of paradoxes which has emerged from the chemical weapons controversy.
John Paul Jones & Eileen N. Wagner, Poison Gas Proliferation: Paradox, Politics, and Law, 15 Loy. L. A. Int’l & Comp. L.J. 521 (1993)