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The University of Southampton

Controls of weapons of mass destruction to be probed by Southampton researcher

Published: 12 January 2004

A researcher at the University's School of Social Sciences is to examine how international regulations control weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Dr Jez Littlewood from the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies has been awarded nearly £50,000 by the Economic and Social Research Council to look into the effectiveness of export controls for biological weapons. He will work with Centre Director Professor John Simpson.

He said, "Export controls are one of the central planks in UK and international non-proliferation efforts, but there is very little information on how effective they actually are or how their success or failure is actually assessed by the government."

News of the grant comes as Syria claims it is entitled to defend itself by acquiring a chemical and biological deterrent. President Bashar Assad, in a newspaper interview, maintains any deal to destroy WMD would have to be linked to an agreement from Israel to abandon its stockpiles of WMD. Although Libya has agreed to destroy its WMD, controversy still surrounds claims of Iraqi weapons.

As part of the research Dr Littlewood will examine the development of export controls for biological weapons in the UK, assess their impact on both security and legitimate trade, and develop a method for assessing how effective the controls actually are.

Notes for editors

The Mountbatten Centre for International Studies was established in 1990. Its mission is to explore significant trends in international security relations, including issues in global non-proliferation, seeking to facilitate and encourage international consensus-building on these matters through discussions and dialogue between policy-making officials and researchers, as well as through its own internal research activities. The Centre bears the name of Earl Mountbatten of Burma whose papers are housed in the main library at the University. It is headed by the Founding Director, Professor John Simpson, OBE.

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