Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Practice Relating to Rule 73. Biological Weapons
In 1970, in the context of the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 2444 (XXIII), the USSR stated:
The use of … bacteriological methods of warfare … was prohibited by the Geneva Protocol of 17 June 1925. The United States signed that Protocol, but did not ratify it. However, that does not mean that the prohibition of the use of poisonous substances does not extend to the United States. That prohibition has become a generally recognized rule of international law, and countries which violate it must bear responsibility before the international community.
In 1970, during a debate in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the USSR stated that the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol was fully applicable in situations where freedom fighters struggled for liberation against colonial powers.
In the preliminary stages of the First Review Conference of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in 1980, the USSR stated:
In accordance with the law and practice of the Soviet Union, compliance with the provisions of the [1972 Biological Weapons Convention] which was ratified by a Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dated 11 February 1975 is guaranteed by the appropriate State institutions of the USSR. The Soviet Union does not possess any of the bacteriological (biological) agents or toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery mentioned in article I of the Convention. Thus, the implementation of articles I, II, III and IV of the Convention is reliably ensured.
In 1987, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the USSR stated: “Measures to consolidate the regime of the 1925 Geneva [Gas] Protocol prohibiting the use of bacteriological weapons in war are in the interest of all.”
In 1991, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, the USSR, with regard to UN Security Council resolution 687 (1991), stated:
The most acute issue is that of creating an effective barrier against the use of weapons of mass destruction in that region. From that viewpoint, of great importance are the provisions in the resolution regarding Iraq’s destruction of … biological weapons … and in the context of Iraq’s confirmation of its obligations of the Geneva [Gas] Protocol of 1925 to bring into play the International Atomic Energy Agency … It is also important that all Middle Eastern countries accede to … those international agreements prohibiting … biological weapons.
The development of a biological weapons programme by the USSR between 1973 and 1992 was widely documented and detailed in a number of different sources.
The Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Chemical and Biological Weapons Problems, in response to a question about Soviet non-compliance with the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, said in an interview published in the journal Rossiyskiye Vesti
Indeed, these clear violations … were only admitted after the totalitarian regime collapsed and duplicity in politics was abandoned. We admitted that after the convention was ratified, the offensive programs in the area of biological warfare were not immediately curtailed, research in this area continued, and production went on … The first palpable move … toward the offensive programs finally being wound down was made in 1985 when it was proposed that the Soviet Union present a report to the United Nations on its compliance with the convention. At this time research also began to be wound down, and the equipment for producing biological preparations began to be dismantled. But this winding down process went on for several years. The remnants of the offensive programs in the area of biological weapons were still around as recently as 1991. It was only in 1992 that Russia absolutely stopped this work.