The Sverdlovsk Incident

  • Nicholas A. Sims


In Chapter 7 the Sverdlovsk incident was considered only in terms of its immediate impact on the Review Conference in March 1980. The full significance of the incident, as it came to be interpreted, argued over and used as an object-lesson, only became clear in the ensuing years, thus providing ample justification for a substantial chapter in its own right.


Biological Weapon Biological Warfare Treaty Obligation Cutaneous Anthrax Inhalation Anthrax 
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  1. 9.
    Zhores Medvedev, ‘The Great Russian Germ War Fiasco’, New Scientist, 87: 360–1 (31 July 1980). The émigré sources reviewed by him are Possev, Russkaya Mysl and the congressional subcommittee testimony of Mr Mark Popovsky (28 May 1980).Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Vivian Wyatt, ‘Anthrax: Recipe for a Blunt Weapon’ New Scientist, 87: 721–2 (4 September 1980).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Nicholas Wade, ‘Death at Sverdlovsk: a Critical Diagnosis’, Science, 209: 1501–2 (26 September 1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 16.
    Georges Fischer, ‘La Conférence d’examen de la Convention interdisant les armes bactériologiques ou à toxines’, Annuaire Français de Droit International, vol. 26 (1980) 97.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    President Reagan, in one of his foreign policy speeches in 1981, specifically praised a book, The Treaty Trap: A History of the Performance of Political Treaties by the United States and European Nations, by Laurence W. Beilenson for the Foreign Policy Research Institute (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1969), which had attacked the legalistic-moralistic’ tradition of US foreign policy in general, and its reliance on treaties in particular.Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    Karl Pieragostini, ‘Soviet Cheating: Reagan’s Rush to Judgment’, ADIU Report, VI.1 (January/February 1984) 1–5.Google Scholar
  7. 31.
    Raymond A. Zilinskas, ‘Anthrax in Sverdlovsk?’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, XXXIX.6 (June/July 1983) 26.Google Scholar
  8. 36.
    Philip Towle, ‘The Soviet Union and the Biological Weapons Convention’, Arms Control, III.3 (December 1982) 39.Google Scholar
  9. 37.
    Alan F. Neidle, ‘The Rise and Fall of Multilateral Arms Control: Choices for the United States’, in Edward C. Luck (ed), Arms Control: The Multilateral Alternative (New York & London: New York University Press for UNA-USA, 1983) pp. 7–34.Google Scholar
  10. 40.
    The phrase, applied to the 1972 Convention, is that of Ian Bellany, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Arms Control and International Security at the University of Lancaster; as a member of the Foreign Office’s Arms Control and Disarmament Research Unit in its earliest years he was briefly concerned with British policy on CBW constraints, which he took over from Dr Deryck Viney in 1967. He believes that the Convention’s intrinsic fragility derives not so much from the admitted inadequacy of its verification provisions as from the almost total absence (since the US unilateral renunciation) of ‘the other factor upon which deterrence of a breach in an arms control agreement is based — the probability that a breach once detected will be reacted to’ by, in particular, US acquisition of a new BW capability. Ian Bellany, ‘An Introduction to Verification’, Arms Control, III.3 (December 1982) 4.Google Scholar
  11. 41.
    James A. Schear, ‘Verifying Arms Agreements: Premises, Practices, and Future Problems’, Arms Control, III.3 (December 1982) 88;Google Scholar
  12. also published as a chapter in Ian Bellany and Coit D. Blacker (eds), The Verification of Arms Control Agreements (London: Frank Cass, 1983).Google Scholar
  13. 42.
    This point is made in different ways by three British writers who have commented usefully on the Sverdlovsk Incident: Philip Towle, ‘The Soviet Union and the Biological Weapons Convention’, and J. P. Perry Robinson, ‘“The Soviet Union and the Biological Weapons Convention” and a Guide to Sources on the Sverdlovsk Incident’, Arms Control, III.3 (December 1982) and in Bellany and Blacker (eds), Verification; and, in passing, by V. J. Adams, ‘The Abolition of Chemical Weapons’, Arms Control, IV.2 (September 1983) 156. The Perry Robinson article, in particular, is of outstanding value.Google Scholar
  14. 43.
    Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Gas and Germ Warfare (London: Chatto & Windus, 1982) p. 221.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nicholas A. Sims 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas A. Sims
    • 1
  1. 1.The London School of Economics and Political ScienceUniversity of LondonUK

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