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Notes: 1 tear gas, 2 psychopharmacological agent, 3 blood agent, 4 choking pulmonary agent 5 blistering agent 6 nerve agent 7 mg per kg body weight 8 mg per minute per m3 air 9 here: absolutely deadly dose LD Based on this information, those planning a war can determine the amount of chemical warfare agents used in an attack. At the same time, they need to take environmental factors into consideration, as the gas used can be swept away by the wind. These conditions also determine when an area can be accessed again without the danger of being exposed to these substances.

Another factor is the fact that these toxins, once exposed to the UV radiation of the sun, break down at different speeds. In practice, the highest concentration of the chemical agents could be found on trees, rooftops and grassland. Despite the high toxicity of the substances, an attack was only 'successful' when many tonnes of the agent were deployed at the same time.

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Should the wind turn, any use of such agents would also present serious risks for their soldiers. As the stockpiling of 'live' chemical weapons alone bears significant risks, the United States developed binary precursors for artillery shells and bombs. These consist of two less toxic substances that are physically separated within the weapon and that only react with each other upon the deployment of the weapon, creating a deadly mix.

Chemical weapons have been controversial even amongst the military right from their inception—a rather uncommon phenomenon. Those who advocated the use of chemical weapons were of the opinion that chemical weapons would be able to kill large amounts of enemy soldiers across considerable distances. Those who were sceptical of these weapons argued that they be difficult to deploy at a tactical level, had little effect and could endanger their troops. Front-line soldiers of all armies are particularly wary of chemical weapons since their first deployment in World War I.

Many gas casualties battled death for multiple days until they finally choked. Survivors often had to live with permanent damages from which they suffered their entire lives: they were blind, had chemical burns on their skins, damaged lung tissue or suffered from cancer. As a matter of course, the military did invent not only chemical weapons but also technical means to protect against them. Today, protective equipment for soldiers is well advanced so that a gas attack hardly results in any strategic or tactical advantage.

These military—strategic limitations also led to the fact that chemical weapons—as the very first weapons of mass destruction—were subject to a treaty that outlaws their production, stockpiling and use. Still, even today, one cannot totally exclude an attack with chemical weapons, be it a terrorist attack or a last desperate attempt by an uninhibited dictator in view of his looming defeat in a civil war.

Secret History of Chemical Warfare

In the country reports, data and information are collected by country and put into tables that are used in the modules as a basis for maps and illustrations. Haruki Murakami. In Stock. Dick George Galdorisi. Meeting Saddam's Men Looking for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Yin Sun Kwok Y. Bioterrorism and Food Safety. Barbara A. Rasco Gleyn E.

Biodefense Research Methodology and Animal Models. Dr Ram V Athavale. George W.


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In the mids reports began to trickle out of Southeast Asia that the Vietnamese, another Soviet ally, were using a new and savagely effective gas in attacks on Hmong tribesmen in Laos, who had been allies of the Americans and stubborn foes of the Communists. Refugees spoke of aircraft pouring out a "yellow rain" that caused choking, chemical burns, massive bleeding, and rapid death. There were many reports, but the puzzling thing about the combination of symptoms reported was that it matched the action of no known chemical agent.

US Army scientists suspected that the "yellow rain" was some mix of chemical agents, or a new chemical or biological toxin. The idea that "yellow rain" was some biological toxin was given a little weight in , when a leaf and a few other plant fragments that were covered with a white mold were examined. The mold had a very high concentration of fungal poisons known as "mycotoxins".

The History of Chemical Warfare

However, the Soviets and Vietnamese denied they were using chemical or biological warfare in Laos. The evidence was thin at best, and the mycotoxins discovered, while deadly, were nowhere near as toxic as any nerve gas and would have been much more expensive to produce. In the absence of any definitive information, "yellow rain" never amounted to anything more than an unsettling rumor.

CW hawks in the US, suspicious that the USSR was using the talks as a mask for improving their CW capability, challenged Nixon's moratorium on the development and production of new chemical weapons. The environmental and safety concerns that had in good part led to the moratorium were an obstacle to the production of new chemical weapons, but the hawks had a solution: "binary nerve gas".

Back in the s, the US Navy had been concerned about the problem of storing nerve gases on board ships, and had investigated a concept where the safety of a nerve gas munition could be improved by splitting it into two separate chemical "charges". The shell contained two chambers, one with contained methylphosphonic difluoride, better known as "difluor DF ", and another containing simple isopropyl alcohol.

When the shell was fired, the barrier between the two chambers broke, and the rapid spin of the shell mixed the two precursors to form the gas, which was dispersed when the munition burst. VX could also be produced from binary precursors consisting of a substance known as "VC" and sulfur.

VC was actually almost the complete VX molecule, and was apparently fairly toxic and nasty in itself. The US Defense Department developed a plan for fielding binary nerve gas weapons, but even with suspicion of Soviet intentions and actions the US Congress showed no inclination to fund the program.


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However, although the mujahedin spoke of "nerve gas", they described clouds of colored smoke and choking symptoms that sounded more like those caused by asphyxiants. As mentioned in the previous chapter, nerve gases are generally odorless, colorless, and cause convulsions and suffocation. The reports were never confirmed. It seems plausible that the Soviets did use riot agents in Afghanistan, and riot agents can be lethal in high concentrations.

The reports from Afghanistan, as well as the "yellow rain" stories from Laos provided little honest evidence of any serious Soviet use of lethal CW. By that time, however, the Soviets were not the only issue. There was widespread suspicion that smaller states with militant and authoritarian regimes were developing chemical and biological weapons as a military equalizer. That became absolutely clear after the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in They developed a "dusty mustard" that consisted of the liquid agent absorbed by a talcum-like powder, which made it easier to disperse as an aerosol and more concentrated in its effects.

Poison gas appears to have been a contributing factor to the eventual defeat of Iran in It is believed the Iranians took the lesson to heart and built up their own arsenal of chemical weapons after the war.

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