Secret Government CW Documents De-classified

The CWC Archive now includes over 90 recently de-classified government documents. These documents can be found listed chronologically as well as in the Historical Documents sections of the CWC Archive by subject and by type. They primarily contain information regarding chemical agents and munitions as well as government projects in the chemical weapons field from 1945 – 1975.

These documents related to the U.S. development and production of nerve agents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Jonathan B. Tucker during the research for his book, War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to Al Qaeda (Anchor Paperback 2007), and kindly donated to FAS so that they could be made publicly available.

To provide an example of the types of documents now available, we would like to highlight a June 30, 1955 report from the Chemical Corps Technical Committee as the Document of the Day.
The report discusses a number of projects including V-Agents (such as VX gas) and improvements of biological and chemical weapon test facilities. The most interesting section of the report details proposed experiments with psychochemical agents. The psychochemical agent section discusses the ‘…use of an agent causing temporary mental and/or motor incapacitation of troops or civilian populations…’ and concludes that, ‘it is desirable, but not essential, that the agents have no permanent effects.’

This document is just one of many under the Historical Document section that contain intriguing and remarkable information dating back to the 1940s.

Document of the Day – Letters From Scientists

I kicked off this site in the beginning of April with a Document of the Day post that featured a letter from Dick Cheney opposing U.S. ratification of the CWC. Now that the flurry of posts about the Second Review Conference has died down, I think its time to dig through the Archive and find a new item to highlight.

Today’s Document(s) of the Day are 148 letters from prominent scientists urging Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) to bring the ratification of the CWC to a vote in the U.S. Senate before April 29, 1997. All of the 148 signatories were chemist and biochemist members of the U.S. National Academy of Science, 13 were Nobel Laureates at the time, and an additional 3 signatories have since been awarded a Nobel Prize. The letters were sent to Sen. Lott on Feb 24, 1997 by Dudley Herschbach and Matthew Meselson of Harvard University. Walter Kauzmann even added an extra note on his letter and expressed his disbelief of the situation by asking “Has the Senate no self respect?”

It is phenomenal to look back and see the academic science community coming together in support of an arms control treaty. Go here for more information on the events leading up to U.S. ratification of the CWC.

Document of the Day – Cheney Opposes CWC

Cheney Letter For the inaugural Document of the Day feature, we have a copy of the letter submitted by former Secretary of Defense, and current Vice President, Dick Cheney to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The letter expresses Cheney’s deep opposition to U.S. ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It was read into the record by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesigner who, along with fellow former Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Caspar Weinberger, was present at the Committee hearing to provide testimony against the CWC.