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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 21, December 1997

Editor's Introduction

December 1997 witnessed the signing of perhaps the most publicly acclaimed disarmament treaty of modern times - the Ottawa Convention banning landmines. This issue's Documents and Sources is largely devoted to coverage of the signing conference, and the parallel 'Mines Action Forum' mapping out the route of 'Ottawa Process II'.

December also saw the Second Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in The Hague. The mixed results of the meeting are reviewed for us by Alexander Kelle of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt. Looking ahead, the prospects for substantially strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) by the addition of a Verification Protocol are considered by Malcolm Dando of the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford.

The issue also features two Opinion Pieces. Nikolai Sokov, from the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies, weighs the relative merits of unilateral and bilateral approaches to the control and reduction of US and Russian tactical nuclear weapons. In advance of the 1998 Session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, Rebecca Johnson assesses the prospects for a successful renewal of Conference activities following a barren year. She concludes that the CD is an institution worth retaining and defending, though not in the absence of significant reform: "If the CD were to be jettisoned or...allowed to fall into slow decline, it would take a long time to set effective alternatives in place. The present structure, however, has become a barrier to effective work and needs to be overhauled."

News Review summarises newswire coverage of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and its Coordinator, Jody Williams; the defusing of the latest acute crisis in relations between Iraq and UNSCOM; the confusion surrounding comments by President Yeltsin on Russian nuclear reductions; a revision of US nuclear planning by President Clinton; further incidents and allegations concerning Iran; and environmental concern over the condition of retired Russian nuclear submarines and the method of destruction of Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) under the START I Treaty.

Disarmament Diplomacy is edited by Dr Sean Howard with the assistance of Jeannie Grussendorf. Rebecca Johnson is managing editor.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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