Case Study 1 The Second Battle of Ypres World War 1 April, 1915 first large-scale military use of chemical weapons
Line of cylinders release gas at Ypres
Germany used 168 tons of chlorine gas against French Algerian and, later, Canadian troops 16,000 troops exposed, about 6,000 die of asphyxiation. German press release state that use is in response to prior French use of gas Allied troops panic as trenches become saturated with heavier-than-air gas
Following a heavy bombardment, the enemy attacked the French Divisions at about 5p.m., using asphyxiating gases for the first time. Aircraft reported that at about 5p.m., thick yellow smoke had been seen issuing from the German trenches between Langemarck and Bixschoote. The French reported that two simultaneous attacks had been made east of the Ypres-Staden Railway, in which these asphyxiating gases had been employed. What follows almost defies description. The effect of these poisonous gases was so virulent as to render the whole of the line held by the French Division mentioned above practically incapable of any action at all. It was at first impossible for anyone to realize what had actually happened. The smoke and fumes hid everything from sight, and hundreds of men were thrown into a comatose or dying condition, and within an hour the whole position had to be abandoned, together with about 50 guns. Field Marshal Sir John French Commander-in-Chief of the British Army 1915
Case Study 2 Halabja poison gas attack March 15-19, 1988 Military use of chemical weapons Against Iraqi Kurds during the Iran-Iraq war
News or Propaganda ? Photo purported to be of gas attack victims
Halabja, Iraq is a town of about 80,000 Reported casualties range from several hundred to 5,000 people multiple chemical agents, possibly including mustard gas, and the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX, and the blood agent hydrogen cyanide may have been used Targets included Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas allied with Tehran Both Iran and Iraq have variously been ascribed blame.
Case Study 3 Tokyo Sarin Attack March 20, 1995 terrorists place containers of the nerve gas sarin in five trains on 3 of Tokyo's 10 underground railway lines.
Sarin C 4 H 10 FO 2 P
5,000-6,000 persons were exposed 493 hospitalized 17 developed severe symptoms 12 people died: –9 at site –1 during first 24 hours in hospital –2 died several weeks later
Rescue Efforts after Tokyo Attack
Shoko Asahara, founder of the religious cult Aleph, found guilty of ordering attack in a trial that ended on February 27, 2004
Case Study 4 US Anthrax Attack September 18 – October 9, 2001 Anthrax spores found in this Princeton NJ mailbox
terrorists (?) mail letters containing Anthrax spores to 5 US Newspapers and 2 US Senators
Several thousand people exposed and take antibiotics 22 people developed anthrax infections –11 inhalation anthrax –11 subcutaneous anthrax (less lethal) 5 died of inhalation anthrax –2 postal workers –3 from unknown sources, possibly cross-contamination of mail total damage (incl. cleanup) exceeded $1 billion
The Justice Department has named no suspects in the case
Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) 1969 U.S. reserves right to have stockpile for retaliation 1985 Congress mandates U.S. stockpile of CW be destroyed 1991 Bush administration states U. S. would formally forswear use of CW once CWC entered into force 1993 U.S. signs Convention
1997 U.S. ratifies Convention; it enters into force countries sign CWC but not Iraq, Syria, Libya and N. Korea CWC requires member states to destroy all stockpiles + facilities by 2007 U.S. has been incinerating CW at Dugway UT and Johnson Is. in Pacific
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an international overseeing agency that verifies compliance with CWC 70,000 tonnes of CW and 8.6 million munitions/containers declared by 4 nations 61 former CW production sites declared by 11 nations
6,700 tonnes CW, 2 million munitions and 27 CW production facilities destroyed under OPCW inspection. OPCW has conducted 1169 inspections Dual use of plants make verification difficult; considerable access needed In 2001 U.S. threatens to abandon Treaty if Director is not replaced, mixing political and managerial concerns. He is replaced.
Biological Weapons Convention Nixon supports prohibiting development, production and possession of BW 1972 Biological Weapons Convention negotiated 1975 Convention ratified by US. BW Convention now has 144 state parties. Holdouts in Middle East Convention has neither standing organization nor verification 1994 member states of BWC mandate development of protocol to strengthen BWC including verification measures 2001 consolidated text of protocol gains general acceptance. Bush administration withdraws from negotiations citing lack of confidence in others and threat to biodefense and pharmaceutical secrets.
Questions to Ponder Are “doomsday” biological weapons a real possibility? What is the relative threat of the terrorist use of B&C and conventional weapons? Is biotechnology too small-scale for peaceful intent to be effectively verified? What preparedness is needed to provide an effective response to B&C weapons?
Develop contingency plans Use standard statistical risk analysis to prioritize preparedness Strengthen public health infrastructure Identify beforehand sources of Additional assistance Draw upon international assistance And support Implement the Conventions