Science & Arms Control

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    • 00:00


    • 00:10

      DAVID GALBREATH: My name is David Galbreath.I'm professor of international securityat the University of Bath.My research expertise is on how science and technology,or techno-science, impacts politics and society,especially in the areas of conflict, security, and more.This research focus leads me to direct this into [INAUDIBLE]

    • 00:30

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: and technology and be editor-in-chief of the journalDefence Studies.My main working hypothesis is that techno-sciencehas the ability to change how we behave in politics and society.We have heard of the chemical weapons tax in Syria.We know that there are drones flyingover Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria,

    • 00:52

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Iraq, and perhaps other places.We have seen in the 20th century howdevelopment in science and technologyhave changed war as we know it through the adventof nuclear weapons.The last 100 years has been an important age of arms controlthat now faces an increasing threat.In this talk, we will look at the relationshipbetween science and arms control,

    • 01:13

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: specifically we will look at the rise of the arms control erathat fathered the development of new weaponsof mass destruction.Secondly, we look at the role of technical expertisein arms control.Next, we examine the changing nature of arms control,with the convergence of different scienceand technologies.Finally, we look at the future of arms control

    • 01:35

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: in the face of rapid development.Overall, we will understand how science impacts on arm control.Arms control springs from a common understandingamongst belligerent states that thereare to be restrictions on the weapons of war.

    • 01:56

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Agreements between warring parties,such as how to treat prisoners of war,go back as far as war goes on.However, arms controls, as we know it today,is a result of the progress of the industrializationof weapons of mass destruction throughthe scientific and technological revolutionsof the early 20th century.Mainly these are chemical, biological, radiological,

    • 02:19

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: and nuclear weapons, often referred to as CBRN.Prior to the First World War therewas a moratorium agreed by the great powers of the timeto cease using chemical weapons in war, seen in the 1899 Haguedeclaration and subsequent Hague Convention.Yet imperial Germany violated these during the First World

    • 02:40

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: War, following the harrowing talesof debilitating gases, like mustard gas, and lethal gases,like chlorine, a the chemical being used in Syria today.Several conferences were held to limit the use of chemicalweapons in war.Chemical warfare was limited in Second World War, only usedby the Japanese against other Asian combatants.

    • 03:01

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Similarly, with the advent of nuclear weapons,there was a growing agreement between nuclear powersthat they should be limited in terms of the number of statesthat held them.This norm would then form the Nuclear NonproliferationTreaty, which came into force in 1970,and restricted the transfer of weapons, materials,and expertise between nuclear and non-nuclear states.

    • 03:23

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: With weapons and materials easier to control,the focus has been on controlling knowledge.The role of expertise in such heavy scientific andtechnological areas is fundamentalto their production, but also to their restriction.

    • 03:45

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: The experts at the heart of the different armscontrol regimes are referred to as epistemic communities--communities of knowledge.Being able to understand how the science and technology worksis important in knowing how to identify, restrict, and preventchemical, biological, radiological,and nuclear weapons.

    • 04:06

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Nuclear weapons are highly specializedand extremely expensive.The major dilemma is between nuclear materialsfor energy versus weapons.The International Atomic Energy Agencyhas an intergovernmental body aimedat directing nuclear research towards peaceful purposes.Further, United Nations Atomic Energy Commission

    • 04:28

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: acts as a scientific framework for the controlof nuclear resource, especially in the caseof the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.As I said already, nuclear weapons,because of the cost of combined expertise,is primarily a matter of arms control between governments.However, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons

    • 04:48

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: are less costly, yet still requirescientific and technological expertise.As a result, arms control goes farbeyond the actions of states.For instance, the sarin gas attackin the Tokyo subway in 1995 shows that chemical weaponscan be used by not only governmentsagainst other governments, but also by groups

    • 05:10

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: bent on mass violence.In this case, the control of materials and expertiseis important.But herein lies our problem, whichis connected to the energy weaponsdichotomy of nuclear weapons, known as dual-use.We use potentially harmful chemicals and biological agentsin everyday products, such as washing our clothes

    • 05:32

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: or treating our water.In this way, they were not weapons, but a large partof the industrial landscape.How do you control weapons like this?This is where epistemic communities come in.We need scientific experts to be able to evidencethe harmful effects of weaponizing such agents.

    • 05:52

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: We need experts to suggest how wemight be able to reduce the dual-use dilemma.We need experts to identify weapons programs.Finally, we need experts to show ushow science and technology are changing.

    • 06:13

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: The changing nature of technosciencehas always been a concern for arms control,because it says something about how we can increasinglymanipulate the world around us.The new change however, is that of a techno- scientificconvergence.That is, that ordinarily distinct areas of scienceand technology are coming into contact with each other

    • 06:33

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: to create new frontiers of knowledge,for all the benefits or costs that could raise.Let's look at some of those convergences.I've had experience researching the relationshipbetween biology and chemistry, which is, agreeably,an ancient form of convergence, having startedwith the ancient Greeks, whom wereinterested in the nature of life itself.

    • 06:55

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Yet it was branded as biochemistryin the early 19th century.Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes in livingorganisms, and is this relationshipbetween the biological and the chemicalwhen new frontiers are found.Both biological weapons and chemical weaponsare covered under their own specific conventions.

    • 07:17

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Yet biochemistry suggests that how they interactis of particular importance to science and to preventingthe development of weapons.Take, for instance, the growth in the number of incapacitantsused to control large groups of people,sometimes with lethal effects, as seen in the Russian securityservices response of the Moscow theater siege

    • 07:39

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: in 2002, where an incapacitant was used to make hostage-takersand hostages unconscious.All 40 of the hostage-takers, and 130 of the hostages,out of a total of about 850, died on the day,with many of the survivors havingbeen poisoned with life-changing neurological damage.

    • 08:00

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: While seen as chemical weapons attack,it is the way that the gas targeted neurological systemsthat made it different from other, less-nuanced poisons.You can also see a convergence in the growth of machinelearning and engineering, allowingfor more sophisticated robots.Already today, governments use robots in war,

    • 08:21

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: though their autonomous systems are limited and interruptable,such as the need of a drone to stay aloftfor long periods of time as wind and weather changes.Yet the thought of autonomous robotsis a scary thought for many, harking backto the earliest fears in science fiction,and played out today in the latest films.There is a movement to bring about a moratorium

    • 08:42

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: on autonomous robots in armed conflict.This movement comes before the capabilitiesthat we anticipate in machine learning and engineering.The future will be exciting, for sure.All of this scientific and technological development

    • 09:03

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: in chemistry, biology, genetics, neurology, machine learning,engineering, materials, and many other areassuggest that this convergence will continue to develop,and with it, change how we think about arms control.Traditionally, governments have been the producers of expertisethrough specific defense programs or higher education

    • 09:24

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: institutions.Yet today, this expertise and the capabilitiesto work with this convergence is changing.Never before has information beenso cheap to access, such as through the internet.Never before have barriers to doing science and technologybeen so low.Going forward, this presents a problemfor arms control regimes, which have traditionally

    • 09:46

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: engaged with governments about government actions.Already, we can see how security frameworksare beginning to change.In the case of biochemistry, there'san increased focus on the biosecurity systemsthat encourage a more joined-up understandingof whom is producing and what they'reproducing, and understanding the security and safety of this.

    • 10:10

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Further, there is an acceptance that arms controlwill have to change as science and technology changes.But this is troubled by two questions.Firstly, how do you do this in a competitive politicalenvironment where cooperation is sometimes hard to find?Secondly, how do you go about putting into place arms

    • 10:30

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: control that is adaptable and resilientfor further developments in science and technology?As we've seen, chemical weapons have notbeen confined to history.Despite efforts since the late 19th century to havethem banned for war purposes.

    • 10:52

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: During the Cold War, many states built uplarge reserves of chemical weapons,both for military research and the prospect of war itself.Arms control agreements between the US and the Soviet Unionand then the Russian Federation were aimedat destroying these stockpiles.Today, chemical weapons' technological advances

    • 11:12

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: have largely stopped.While there are some states to continueto maintain chemical weapons, such as Iran, Israel, NorthKorea, and a few others, the Officefor the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW,has a clear view of who still has usable chemical weapons.Yet what we see in Syria today is not new chemicals, or even

    • 11:34

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: new delivery mechanisms.Chemicals like chlorine are used ineveryday industrial processing for peaceful purposes.The ability to weaponize these chemicalsis relatively low-cost for states.Prior to the civil war in Syria, the Syrian governmenthad given assurances that it had destroyed its chemical weaponsstockpiles.

    • 11:55

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: However, in July, 2012, with war ragingagainst the Syrian government, therewere reports that the Syrian militarywas moving chemical stockpiles to safer areas in the country.The US government remarked that the use of chemical weaponsagainst the Syrian rebels was a red line that it would nottolerate rate if it needed to remove

    • 12:17

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Bashir al-Assad from power.At the same time, the Iranian governmentwas warning the Syrian governmentthat the use of chemical weapons by rebels against the regimecould be imminent.The question is, was this a disinformation campaign,or was there really a loss of control of chemical stockpilesand Syria?At the same time, there was increasing evidence

    • 12:38

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: that the Syrian military was preparingbinary weapons, whereby you combine two harmless chemicalsto create a lethal chemical.Those turned out to be sarin gas in the case of Syria.It was in December, 2012, that weget the first confirmed report of a chemical weapons attackin the Syrian city of Homs.

    • 12:59

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: This was understood to be a chemical nerve agent.The number of unconfirmed reports continued to increase.In early 2013, the US and Russia, again working together,to devise ways to take control and remove the stockpilesfrom Syria.Yet shortly afterwards, we get reports of Syrian rebels using

    • 13:21

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: chlorine gas against government forces--a form of chlorine known as CL17 found in swimming poolcleaner, which has been used against US soldiers in Iraq.Following this, the number of chemical weapons attackscontinued, and have been a hallmark of the civil war.

    • 13:41

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: However, the scale of the attack arearguably less because of the actions of the OPCWand the group led by the US and Russiato get the more significant weapons out of the countryand destroyed.Nevertheless, arms control and interventioncan only do so much, because the abilityto produce certain weapons has a small development cost.

    • 14:05

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: In peacetime, arms control is aidedby the lack of an immediate incentiveto use the weapons and a salience of the moratoriumagainst chemical toxic weapons.In war, there's no such limit when survival is at stake.Herein lies the dilemma for arms control as a whole--how do we go about encouraging arms control

    • 14:27

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: when the barriers to weaponizing dual-use technologiesare lowering?The know-how of science and technologyhas become cheaper, and thus more widespread.The manufacturing of science and technologyis becoming more diffuse, even as wesee different science and technologyareas continue to converge.What happens when science and technology outpaces

    • 14:50

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: arms control regimes?How can these arms control regimes seek to contain,much less prevent?Whether it is the Syrian government, ISIS, the Kurds,or other armed groups, how does the international communityintervene without limiting the further developmentof new and old scientific and technological applications?

    • 15:12

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: Herein lies the problem.What does this tell us about the natureof arms control going forward?Put yourself in the positions of the international community.How would you seek to control the weaponizationof these materials?Secondly, put yourself in the position of thoseon the ground in Syria.What are the conditions under whichyou would seek to use chemical weapons when you

    • 15:34

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: know that all sides have them?How do we do arms control in a moment of crisis?Herein lies the key to understandingthe link between international security and technoscience.Despite the technical detail, there's

    • 15:56

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: still a role to play for understanding the politicswithin arms control.To understand international politics or diplomacy,to understand the nature of expertiseand of experts, to understand the changing nature of scienceand technology and the social ramifications,to understand where we might be going next,

    • 16:18

      DAVID GALBREATH [continued]: I leave you with three questions.How has arms control developed in relationto changes in science and technology?How does arms control relate powerand international security?And finally, is cyber worth thinkingabout in terms of arms control?

Science & Arms Control

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Professor David Galbreath examines the relationship between science and arms control. Arms control has traditionally been carried out in government-to-government agreements, but developments in science and technology are making weapons more accessible. How can we establish effective controls on chemicals and technology without restricting non-weapon use?

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Science & Arms Control

Professor David Galbreath examines the relationship between science and arms control. Arms control has traditionally been carried out in government-to-government agreements, but developments in science and technology are making weapons more accessible. How can we establish effective controls on chemicals and technology without restricting non-weapon use?

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