Chemical Weapons


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to Chemical Weapons: Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological weapons

Chemical Weapons

 

toxic chemical agents and the means for using them in combat, including rockets, artillery shells, mortar shells, aerial bombs, chemical land mines, chemical hand grenades, and toxic-smoke pots.

The casualty effect of chemical weapons is due to the toxic qualities of chemical compounds that, in the form of a vapor, liquid, or aerosol, can penetrate the body through the respiratory tract, skin, mucous membranes, or digestive tract. They are classified as weapons of mass destruction. Designed to destroy personnel, they can also be used to contaminate the terrain, armament, combat matériel, and various rear support facilities.

Chemical weapons possess a number of characteristics that distinguish them from other kinds of weapons. Toxic chemical agents can spread in the air over a considerable area, penetrate unprotected shelters and buildings, and infiltrate into tanks and other combat vehicles. Unstable substances maintain their potency for several dozen minutes, stables ones for days. The effectiveness of chemical weapons depends to a large extent on the meteorological conditions and the nature of the terrain. For example, when there is a wind, contaminated air can travel long distances and affect personnel outside the immediate area of the chemical attack. Chemicals designed to destroy vegetation, such as herbicides and defoliants, may be classified as chemical weapons.

A chemical weapon, chlorine, was used for the first time during World War I near the city of Ypres, Belgium, by German troops on Apr. 22, 1915. During the war, toxic chemical agents were widely used by other armies as well. The use of chemical weapons was prohibited by the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which was ratified by many states, including the USSR. However, the protocol was broken by several states; for example, Italy used chemical weapons in its war against Ethiopia in 1935–36. During World War II, fascist Germany made large-scale preparations for chemical warfare. By 1943 the annual output of its chemical industry had reached 180,000 tons of toxic chemical agents. However, it did not dare use such weapons for fear of a counterstrike. The Soviet Union has always decisively opposed the use of chemical weapons.

After the war, in spite of the prohibition against chemical weapons, the capitalist countries stockpiled highly toxic chemical agents that greatly exceeded the toxicity of the materials used in World War I. The USA used chemical warfare in Vietnam.

The armed forces of the countries of the aggressive NATO bloc maintain chemical weapons among their armaments and continue developing them. Certain foreign military theoreticians consider chemical warfare more effective in certain situations than nuclear warfare, because it can kill personnel without great material destruction and the weapons used are relatively inexpensive.

The threat of chemical weapons makes it imperative to prepare effective protection measures for both troops and the civilian population.

REFERENCES

Stepanov, A. A. “Otravliaiushchie veshchestva.” Zhurnal Vsesoiuznogo khimicheskogo obshchestva im. D. I. Mendeleeva, vol. 13, issue 6. Moscow, 1968.
U Thant. Khimicheskoe i bakteriologicheskoe (biologicheskoe) oruzhie i posledstviia ego vozmozhnogo primeneniia. [Report to the 24th session of the UN General Assembly.] Moscow, 1970.
Efimov, P. “Khimicheskoe oruzhie vooruzhennykh sil SShA.” Zarubezhnoe voennoe obozrenie, no. 1, 1976.

A. D. MOSKALEV

References in periodicals archive ?
Through a series of delicate operations, the dangerous stash of chemical weapons will be defused and disposed.
An imperative for eradicating chemical weapons is that they are indiscriminate upon diffusion, summarizes former FBI special agent Don Borelli.
The use of chemical weapons in Syria was a deplorable offense against humanity, he said.
Syria has until June to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal under the guidelines of a U.S.-Russia brokered deal that was reached last year.
For chemical weapons have been used with brutal regularity over the twentieth century--and, tragically, in our own century as well.
Destruction of the equipment means that Syria can no longer produce new chemical weapons, though Damascus still has to start destroying existing weapons and stockpiles.
Under a Russian-American brokered deal, Damascus agreed to destroy all its chemical weapons after Washington threatened to use force in response to the killing of hundreds of people in a sarin attack on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug.
Syria is one of only eight of the world's 193 countries not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Nobel committee said: "The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law.
Through the adoption of resolution 2118 (2013), the Council called for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) 'for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof.' In the text, the Council underscored 'that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons.' Defiance of the resolution, including unauthorised transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, would bring about measures under the UN Charter's binding Chapter VII, which can include sanctions or stronger coercive action, the Council said.
The chemical weapons deal is the biggest diplomatic achievement on Syria after more than two years of a bitter civil war that the UN says has killed more than 100,000 people.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the draft could be adopted by late Friday in New York if the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague had completed a technical decision to verify and destroy Syria's chemical weapons on the same day.

Full browser ?