Chemical Agents

Chemical weapons

Pallets of 155 mm Pueblo Depot Activity (PUDA) chemical weapons storage facility
Phosgene oxime (CX)
Lewisite (L)
Sulfur Mustard (Yperite) (HD)
Nitrogen Mustard (HN)
Nerve Agents:
Tabun (GA)
Sarin (GB)
Soman (GD)
Cyclosarin (GF)
Blood Agents:
Cyanogen chloride (CK)
Hydrogen cyanide (AC)
Choking Agents:
Chloropicrin (PS)
Phosgene (CG)
Diphosgene (DP)
Chlorine (CI)
Soviet chemical weapons canister from an Albanian stockpile[1]

A chemical weapon (CW) is a device that uses chemicals weapons of mass destruction, and have been “condemned by the civilised world”. They are separate from biological weapons (diseases), nuclear weapons (which use sub-nuclear fission) and radiological weapons (which use radioactive decay of elements). Chemical weapons can be widely dispersed in gas, liquid and solid forms and may easily afflict others than the intended targets. Nerve gas and tear gas are two modern examples.

Lethal unitary chemical agents and munitions are extremely phosgene gas and others caused lung searing, blindness, death and maiming. In addition, the gas was unreliable because of wind dispersion and often drifted back into the user’s own lines. The public was so horrified by the results and the military so unimpressed that the complete elimination of this class of weapon was widely supported after the war. Large modern stockpiles continue to exist, though usually only as a precaution against use by an aggressor. Progress is still being made to fulfill its eradication through international law.


[edit] International law

“International law is the term commonly used for referring to laws that govern the conduct of independent nations in their relationships with one another.”[2] They are generally regarded as binding, and State Parties accept the terms. Treaties like the Geneva Conventions require nations assent to the terms, which often requires acts of national legislation to conform. Nations may delegate their national jurisdiction to a supranational tribunal such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court.

[edit] Before the Second World War

The World War I.

The Central Powers on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties.

The Washington Naval Treaty, signed February 6, 1922, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, aimed at banning CW—but did not succeed because the French rejected it. The subsequent failure to include CW has contributed to the resultant increase in stockpiles.[3]

The [5] This treaty states that chemical and biological weapons are “justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilised world.” While the treaty prohibits the use of chemical, and biological weapons, it does not address the production, storage, or transfer of these weapons. Later treaties would address these omissions and have been enacted.

[edit] Modern agreements

States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Light colored territories are those states parties that have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons and/or have known production facilities for chemical weapons

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the most recent arms control agreement with the force of International law. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. This agreement outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an independent organization based in The Hague.[6]

The OPCW administers the terms of the CWC to 188 signatories which represents 98% of the global population. Of the stockpiles, 44,131 of the 71,194 tonnes declared (61.99%) have been destroyed. The OPCW has conducted 4,167 inspections at 195 chemical weapon-related and 1,103 industrial sites. These inspections have affected the sovereign territory of 81 States Parties since April 1997. Worldwide, 4,913 industrial facilities are subject to inspection provisions.[7]

[edit] Use

A British gas bomb that was used during World War I

Chemical warfare (CW) involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military initialism for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (warfare or weapons). None of these falls under the term conventional weapons which are primarily effective owing to their destructive potential. Chemical warfare does not depend upon explosive force to achieve an objective. Rather it depends upon the unique properties of the chemical agent weaponized. A lethal agent is designed to injure or incapacitate the enemy, or deny unhindered use of a particular area of terrain. Defoliants are used to quickly kill vegetation and deny its use for cover and concealment. It can also be used against agriculture and livestock to promote hunger and starvation. With proper protective equipment, training, and decontamination measures, the primary effects of chemical weapons can be overcome.”[8]

[edit] State parties with declared stockpiles

Of 188 signatory nations to the CWC, state parties listed below have also declared stockpiles, agreed to monitored disposal, and verification, and in some cases, used CW in conflict. Both military targets and civilian populations have been affected—the affected populations were not always damaged collaterally, but rather at times, the target of the attack. As of 2012, only four nations are confirmed as having chemical weapons: the United States, Russia, North Korea and Syria.[9]

[edit] China

Japan stored chemical weapons on the territory of [11]

[edit] India


[edit] Iraq

U.S. soldiers wearing full chemical protection

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which oversees destruction measures has announced “The government of Iraq has deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention with the Secretary General of the United Nations and within 30 days, on 12 February 2009, will become the 186th State Party to the Convention”.[18]

On June 28, 1987, Iraqi aircraft delivered what was believed to be [19]

[edit] Libya


[edit] Russia

Chemical weapons stored in Russia

Russian CW stockpiles

Russia entered the CWC with the largest declared stockpile of chemical weapons.[25]

[edit] United States

The U.S. stored its chemical weapons at eight U.S. Army installations within the Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Currently stockpiles have been eliminated at Johnston Atoll, APG, and NAAP. Stockpiles are nearly eliminated at ANAD, UMDA,[30]

The U.S. policy on the use of chemical weapons is to reserve the right to retaliate. First use, or [32]

[edit] Non-member states of OPCW with declared or undeclared stockpiles

[edit] Syria

Syria is one of only 7 states which are not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, it is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical weapons in war.

Syrian officials have stated that they feel it appropriate to have some deterrent against Israel’s similarly non-admitted nuclear weapons program when questioned about the topic, but only on July 23, 2012, the Syrian government acknowledged for the first time that it had chemical weapons[33]

Independent assessments indicate that Syrian production could be up to a combined total of a few hundred tons of chemical agent per year. Syria reportedly manufactures Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas types of chemical weapons.[34]

Syrian chemical weapons production facilities have been identified by Western nonproliferation experts at approximately 5 sites, plus one suspected weapons base:[35]

A Syrian soldier aims an AK-47 assault rifle wearing a Soviet-made, model ShMS nuclear–biological–chemical warfare mask

  • Al Safir (Scud missile base)
  • Cerin
  • Hama
  • Homs
  • Latakia
  • Palmyra

In July 2007, a Syrian arms depot exploded, killing at least 15 Syrians. Jane’s Defence Weekly, a U.S. magazine reporting on military and corporate affairs, believed that the explosion happened when Iranian and Syrian military personnel attempted to fit a Scud missile with a mustard gas warhead. Syria stated that the blast was accidental and not chemical related.[36]

On July 13, 2012, The Syrian government moved its stockpile to an undisclosed location.[37]

In September 2012, information emerged that the Syrian military had begun chemical weapons tests and was reinforcing and resupplying a base housing these weapons located east of [39]

[edit] North Korea

North Korea is not a signatory of CWC and has never officially acknowledged the exsitence of its offensive CW program. Nevertheless, the country is believed to possess a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons. It reportedly acquired the technology necessary to produce tabun and mustard gas as early as the 1950s.[40]

[edit] Manner and form

Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System prior to demolition

A protection mask (skyddsmask 90)

There are three basic configurations in which these agents are stored. The first are self-contained munitions like projectiles, cartridges, mines, and rockets; these can contain propellant and/or explosive components. The next form are aircraft-delivered munitions. This form never has an explosive component.[31]

Higher temperatures are a bigger concern because the possibility of an explosion increases as the temperatures rise. A fire at one of these facilities would endanger the surrounding community as well as the personnel at the installations.[46]

[edit] Disposal

Stockpile/disposal site locations for the United States’ chemical weapons and the sites operating status as of August 28, 2008

The stockpiles, which have been maintained for more than 50 years,[26] The Congressional directive has resulted in the present Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program.

Some places where chemical weapons were tested, such as the citation needed]

Historically, chemical munitions have been disposed of by land burial, open burning, and ocean dumping (referred to as Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS) began in 1985.

This was to be a full-scale prototype facility using the baseline system. The prototype was a success but there were still many concerns about CONUS operations. To address growing public concern over incineration, Congress, in 1992, directed the Army to evaluate alternative disposal approaches that might be “significantly safer”, more cost effective, and which could be completed within the established time frame. The Army was directed to report to Congress on potential alternative technologies by the end of 1993, and to include in that report—”any recommendations that the [51]

[edit] Lethality

An Australian observer who has moved into a gas-affected target area to record results, examines an un-exploded shell

Chemical weapons are said to “make deliberate use of the toxic properties of chemical substances to inflict death”.[53] However, chemical weapons were not used to the extent feared.

An unintended chemical weapon release occurred at the port of [56]

The U.S. Government was highly criticized for exposing American service members to chemical agents while testing the effects of exposure. These tests were often performed without the consent or prior knowledge of the soldiers affected.[59]

[edit] Unitary versus binary weapons

Unitary munitions are opposite of [62]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Types of Chemical Weapons, Federation of American Scientists (FAS),
  2. ^ Quote from main article
  3. ^ Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  4. ^ “Geneva Protocol reservations”. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  5. ^ “High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Protocol”. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  7. ^ “Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons”. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  8. ^ Summary from main article
  9. ^ 26 Countries’ WMD Programs; A Global History of WMD Use
  10. ^ “Abandoned Chemical Weapons (ACW) in China”. 2004-06-02. Archived from the original on 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  11. ^ “Ceremony Marks Start of Destruction of Chemical Weapons Abandoned by Japan in China”. OPCW. 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  12. ^ India declares its stock of chemical weapons
  13. ^ Dominican Today – India to destroy chemical weapons stockpile by 2009
  14. ^ Zee News – India destroys its chemical weapons stockpile
  15. ^ Iraq Joins the Chemical Weapons Convention, The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,
  16. ^ “Iraq Designates National Authority For The Chemical Weapons Convention”. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  17. ^ Schneidmiller, Chris. “Iraq Joins Chemical Weapons Convention”. Global Security Newswire. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  18. ^ “Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq Visits the OPCW to Discuss Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention”. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  19. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  20. ^ Chemical terrorism: prevention, response and the role of legislation Truth&Verify
  21. ^ “Gaddafi’s chemical weapons spark renewed worries”. The Washington Post. 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  22. ^ Libya’s NTC pledges to destroy chemical weapons: OPCW
  23. ^ Chemical weapons inspectors to return to Libya
  24. ^ Converting Former Soviet Chemical Weapons Plants, Jonathan B. Tucker,
  25. ^ “Russia profile”. 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  26. ^
  27. ^ Umatilla Chemical Depot (press release), U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, August 10, 2010,
  28. ^ News Release, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, June 6, 2009,
  29. ^ The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) – Pueblo, Colorado,,, retrieved 2010-08-09
  30. ^ Getting chemical weapons destruction back on track | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,, 2009-04-27,, retrieved 2010-08-09
  31. ^, retrieved 2010-08-10
  32. ^ (PDF) FM 8-285 (field manual),, retrieved 2010-08-10
  33. ^ Syria threatens to use chemical arms if attacked, accessed July 24th, 2012.
  34. ^ Syria Chemical Weapons at, accessed Oct 24, 2007.
  35. ^ Special Weapons Facilities at, accessed Oct 24, 2007.
  36. ^ The Sunday Herald: HOW CLOSE WERE WE TO A THIRD WORLD WAR? What really happened when
  37. ^ Wary of rebels and chaos, Syria moves chemical weapons
  38. ^ “Syria Tested Chemical Weapons Systems, Witnesses Say”. Der Spiegel. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  39. ^ “Report: Syria tested chemical weapons delivery systems in August”. Haaretz. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  40. ^ “North Korean Military Capabilities”. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
  41. ^, retrieved 2010-08-09
  44. ^ Methods for Assessing and Reducing Injury from Chemical Accidents, John Wiley & Sons Ltd,
  45. ^ Technical Options for Protecting Civilians from Toxic Vapors and Gases, Oak Ridge National Laboratory,
  46. ^ Effectiveness of expedient sheltering in place in a residents, Journal of Hazardous Materials,,
  47. ^ John Pike. “Chemical Weapons”. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  48. ^ John Pike. “Operation CHASE (for “Cut Holes and Sink ‘Em”)”. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  49. ^ 45 Percent CWC Milestone, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency,
  50. ^ Agent Destruction Status, United States Army Chemical Materials Agency,
  51. ^ CMA Reaches 80% Chemical Weapons Destruction Mark,,, retrieved 2010-11-07
  52. ^ “” (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  53. ^ “[2.0] A History Of Chemical Warfare (2)”. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  54. ^ “Mustard Disaster at Bari”. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  55. ^ “Naval Armed Guard: at Bari, Italy”. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  56. ^ Text of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention,
  58. ^ “Brook Island Trials of Mustard Gas during WW2”. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  59. ^ “007 Incapacitating Agents”. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  61. ^ “Beyond the Chemical Weapons Stockpile: The Challenge of Non-Stockpile Materiel”. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  62. Retrieved 2010-08-10.

[edit] External links

Source: Wikipedia

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