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INTERVIEW


Dan Kaszeta talks to Dr Marc Cadisch, the Director of Switzerland’s prime NBC defence centre of excellence, the Spiez Laboratory.


Photo courtesy of Spiez Laboratory Dr. Marc Cadisch has been Director


of Spiez Laboratory since 2003.


Dan Kaszeta (DK): Dr. Cadisch, perhaps you can tell our readers a little about some things that are new and interesting at Spiez Laboratory? In particular, could you perhaps give us some information about work that may be applicable outside of Switzerland?


Dr. Marc Cadisch (MC): Spiez Laboratory has been doing many types of work, but there are a few things that may be of particular interest. As you know, we are well known in the world community as a CBRN laboratory and as a resource for the nonproliferation community. One relevant project is our research into microreactors. As you may know, traditional national-


level production of warfare agents oſten used well-established manufacturing processes and large production vessels and equipment, many of which were easily identified by inspection regimes. The problem is that there are many new innovative ways to produce warfare agents, for example, using microreactors and related technology that may be small and easy to hide. Such production techniques would not always be obvious


20 CBNW 2013/01


to inspectors. We have the capability to produce agents using such equipment and we can help the nonproliferation community by demonstrating ways in which new techniques could be used to break international agreements and produce illegal substances.


DK: So, for example, you can use information from government or international agencies about potential production techniques for, say, a nerve agent, and you can try it out and see if you can replicate the suspected production process?


MC: Yes. And we think that this would be very valuable to nonproliferation efforts. There are other things that we are doing in the international arena. The Third Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention is in 2013 and there is work to do in that regard. Aſter a long time, there has finally been some movement with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation as it becomes more active and develops on-site inspection processes. We’ve done some really interesting work with the United Nations Environment Programme


on post-conflict environmental assessments, particularly involving depleted uranium (DU) ammunition and water contamination.


DK: Is it true that you’ve started to do some work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) ?


MC: That’s true. We’ve agreed to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC has come to realise that their ability to operate in conflict or disaster zones around the world may someday need the ability to protect their personnel against CBRN threats. In 2011 we concluded an agreement with the ICRC and we will serve as their designated laboratory if they need laboratory support. This opens up the possibility of work for other such international NGOs if they need support.


DK: So, what are some other things that the lab is doing?


MC: We now have a BSL Level 4 biological laboratory. This is the most significant change to the Lab’s physical capabilities in recent years. Construction


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