The United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) was a watershed experience for arms control. It developed and implemented new verification tools which enabled its weapons inspectors to uncover large quantities of hidden weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as well as the programs for making them, in spite of Iraq’s sustained attempts to impede it.
Nowhere is this clearer than in UNSCOM’s work unearthing Iraq’s significant effort to produce and weaponize biological agents. In doing so, it provided the first case history of an international biological weapons (BW) disarmament effort and proved that a multifaceted verification strategy can detect a covert, well-hidden biological weapons program. This primer outlines UNSCOM’s historical context and the logistics of its work—central aspects contributing to UNSCOM’s successes in searching for Iraq’s hidden BW program.
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