Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Information about Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction
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Published on March 5, 2008

Author: Gabriel

Source: authorstream.com

Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction:  Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction S255: Threats, Violence, and Workplace Safety 2nd Eight weeks, Fall Semester 2003 Guest Lecturer: Jessica Cordette, MPH(c) A Century of Chemical Warfare:  A Century of Chemical Warfare The use of poison gas in warfare originated during WWI in the battle of Ypres, April 22, 1915 1.3 million casualties, 91,000 fatalities were attributed to the use of phosgene, chlorine, and mustard gas Italy used chemical weapons aggressively against Ethiopia in 1935-1936. 15,000 reported chemical casualties mostly from mustard gas The Japanese Army used mustard gas, phosgene, lewisite and other agents indiscriminately in China from 1937-1945 Over 900 reported chemical casualties Poisonous gases such as factory exhaust fumes and the infamous Zyklon B were used to kill millions in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany during WWII from 1941-1945 A Century of Chemical Warfare…Continued:  A Century of Chemical Warfare…Continued Phosgene and mustard bombs killed at least 1,400 people during the Yemeni civil war (1963-67), in Egypt Massive chemical weapon assaults were seen during the Iran-Iraq War (1983-1988) and in the Iraqi suppression of its Kurdish minority (1987-1988) On March 17, 1988, Iraq attacked the Kurdish village of Halabja with suspected nerve agents, killing hundreds of civilian refugees The U.S. waged chemical warfare in Southeast Asia (1961-72) Riot control agents (similar to tear gas) and chemical defoliants and herbicides (Agent Orange) were used extensively Classification of Chemical Weapons- By Human Effects:  Classification of Chemical Weapons- By Human Effects Blister Agents Choking Agents Blood Agents Nerve Agents Blister Agents:  Blister Agents Intended to cause incapacitation rather than death Used extensively during WWI Tactic: Overload a region’s medical facilities Examples: Lewisite, Mustard Gas Choking Agents:  Choking Agents Most common during WWI but have lost much of their usefulness since the advent of the nerve agents. Intended to cause death Easily obtained Example: Phosgene (CG as designated by the military) is a common industrial chemical with a moderate lethal dose Blood Agents:  Blood Agents Cyanide based compounds are the main components of the blood agents Rapid rate of evaporation Tactic: assassination of an individual since these agents aren’t well suited for use on a large number of people Example: Hydrogen Cyanide (AC) Nerve Agents:  Nerve Agents Newest trend in chemical weapons Original nerve agents were developed by German scientists during the 1930’s as insecticides and were developed into chemical weapons by the Nazi military later that decade. Sarin, Tabun, Soman and other agents have been the main toxins stockpiled as chemical weapons Nerve Agents…Continued:  Nerve Agents…Continued Nerve agents are hundreds to thousands times more lethal than blister, choking or blood agents Most useful to terrorists because only a minute quantity is necessary to cause a substantial amount of casualties In their most effective form, most nerve agents are more difficult to obtain VX and Sarin, the most toxic of the nerve agents, can be synthesized by a moderately competent organic chemist. Close up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News:  Close up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News Iraq has admitted to manufacturing the chemical agents mustard gas, VX, sarin and tabun before the 1991 Gulf War, although much of this has been destroyed by UNSCOM inspectors. However, intelligence estimates that 360 tones of chemical warfare agent remain unaccounted for – and that Iraq could produce mustard gas within weeks and nerve agents such as VX, tabun and sarin within months. Iraq says anything that has not been destroyed will have degraded beyond use by now. Major Iraqi Sites Suspected of Housing Chemical Weapons:  Major Iraqi Sites Suspected of Housing Chemical Weapons For Comparison…United States Stockpiles of CW (June, 2000):  For Comparison…United States Stockpiles of CW (June, 2000) Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued:  Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued Mustard Gas Mustard gas: 'Mustard' is liquid at room temperature, but is more commonly used in its gas form - which has a strong smell likened to horseradish or garlic. Absorption: Contact with skin or inhalation Effects: Mustard gas is a blistering agent, burning eyes and skin exposed to it and lungs, mouth and throat if it is inhaled. It is not normally lethal, but can cause cancer and serious disfigurement. Symptoms: Conjunctivitis, skin burns, throat pain, cough and susceptibility to infection and pneumonia. Symptoms are not usually noticed until 1 – 6 hours after exposure. Protection: Protective clothing and early decontamination, followed by antibiotics. Iraqi program: Iraq has admitted making 2,850 tons of mustard gas, has filled bombs with it and used it against Kurds at Halabja in 1988. Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued:  Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued VX VX: A clear, colorless liquid – technically named methylphosphonothioic acid and described as the most deadly nerve agent ever created. Absorption: Through eyes, lungs and skin Effects: Like other nerve agents, VX attacks the nervous system – severe doses can cause death within 15 minutes of exposure. Lethal dose: Fraction of a drop Symptoms: Small doses trigger nasal discharge, chest tightness, wheezing and headaches – severe doses lead to convulsions, confusion and respiratory failure. Protection: Immediate injection of atropine Iraqi program: Iraq has admitted making 3.9 tonnes, including 1.5 tons which the UK says remain unaccounted for. Also unaccounted for are 300 tons of a chemical which Iraq had used only for the production of VX. VX was used in the Iraqi attack on the Kurds at Halabja and traces of it have also been found on remnants of ballistic missile warheads. Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued:  Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued Sarin Sarin: A colorless liquid several times more deadly than cyanide, sarin is related to a group of pesticides and was initially developed in Germany in the 1930s. Effects: Sarin attacks the nervous system when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Inhalation can cause death within 1 – 10 minutes of exposure. Lethal dose: 0.5 milligrams Symptoms: Pupils shrink to pinpoints and sweating and twitching precede symptoms similar to those for VX exposure. Protection: Injection of antidote immediately after contact. Iraqi program: Iraq has admitted to manufacturing 795 tons of sarin, filling bombs with it and developing ballistic missile warheads to deliver it. Iraq used sarin against Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war, and against Kurds at Halabja in 1988. Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued:  Close Up: Chemical Weapons Making Recent News…Continued Tabun Tabun: Also known as GB, tabun was discovered in Germany by Dr Gerhard Schrader, who also first developed sarin. Effects: If inhaled or absorbed through the eyes or skin, tabun can kill in as little as one or two minutes. Symptoms: Similar to VX and sarin. Protection: Injection of antidote immediately after contact. Iraqi program: Iraq has admitted to producing 210 tonnes of tabun and using the agent to fill bombs. A UN-backed team has confirmed that Iraq used tabun as early as 1984 against Iranian forces. Tabun was also used in the Iraqi attack on Kurds at Halabaja in 1988. “Advantages” :  “Advantages” Difficult detection Ease of transport in a sealed container Low cost/ low technology to develop Frightening image Overall efficiency Industrial chemicals can be purchased legally “Advantages”…Continued:  “Advantages”…Continued A cost comparison: For a large-scale operation against a civilian population casualties might const $2,000 per square kilometer with conventional weapons, $800 with nuclear weapons, $600 with nerve-gas weapons, $1 with biological weapons “Disadvantages”:  “Disadvantages” Increased effort in retaliation from anti-terrorist forces Risk for terrorists using chemical weapons to harm themselves Future Implications:  Future Implications The likeliness of an incident involving chemical weapons has increased dramatically in the past decade Binary weapons are becoming an even more desirable terrorist weapon Reduced risk during storage and transport Binary weapons store the chemical agent as two separate precursor chemicals that combine to form the final lethal product reduce the threat of accidental exposure upon dispersal of the agent Binary weapons can be made with a time-delay mechanism to assure the terrorist escapes without harm Future Implications…Continued:  Future Implications…Continued The spread of chemical weapons capability to third world countries which may have connections with terrorists International Policy Attempts to Eradicate Chemical Warfare:  International Policy Attempts to Eradicate Chemical Warfare The Hague Gas Declaration of 1891 banned the use of “projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases” The Brussels Declaration of 1874 and the Hague Conventions of 1899-1907 banned the use of poison gas and poisoned bullets Following the horrors of CW in WWi, the Washington Arms Conference Treaty was signed on Feb 6, 1922, prohibiting the use of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases… France objected to other provisions in the treaty and it never went into effect International Policy Attempts to Eradicate Chemical Warfare…Continued:  International Policy Attempts to Eradicate Chemical Warfare…Continued The 1925 Geneva Protocol also prohibited the use of poison gas and bacteriological methods of warfare The protocol languished in the U.S. Senate until 1975, when it was finally ratified U.S. National Policy on Chemical Weapons:  U.S. National Policy on Chemical Weapons In May, 1991 President Bush committed the United States to destroy all CW and to renounce the right to CW retaliation Congress has since passed legislation requiring the destruction of the entire stockpile by December 31, 2004. The U.S. declared policy is to support the Chemical Weapons Convention as a means to achieve a global ban on this class of weapons and to halt their proliferation.

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