Chemical Weapons News – February 20

Inspectors Visit U.S. Chemical Weapons Depot – Global Security Newswire
International inspectors this month visited a U.S. chemical weapons depot in Kentucky to assess its storage of munitions eventually set for destruction…

Fort Polk personnel exposed to blistering agent OK – Shreveport Times
All personnel exposed to a blistering substance dug up at the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk have been medically cleared, a release from Fort Polk says…

Israel WMD use in Gaza alarms NAM – Press TV
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has condemned the use of “chemical weapons” by Israel in its recent operations against the Gaza Strip…

Israel Condemned in OPCW for Using Chemical Weapons in Gaza – FARS News Agency
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the 55th meeting of its executive council condemned Israel for using chemical weapons against the Palestinian people…

Increased Activity Seen at Suspected Syrian Chemical Weapons Site – Global Security Newswire
Satellite images show an increase in operations at a suspected chemical weapons production facility in Syria…

Syria Appears to be Developing its Chemical Weapons Capability – Jane’s
Jane’s Intelligence Review used satellite images from commercial sources gathered between 2005 and 2008 to examine activity at the chemical weapons facility identified as Al Safir in northwest Syria…

Satellites identify apparent CW site in Syria – World Tribune
Syria is constructing what appears to be a chemical weapons facility near Turkey…

Chemical Munitions Casing Found to be Harmless –
In early February 2009, the Department of Defence started remediation of a contaminated site at Marrangaroo Army Depot near Lithgow, NSW…

Global Chemical Weapons Disarmament Operations Near Halfway Mark – Global Security Newswire
More than 40 percent of the known global stockpile of chemical warfare materials has been destroyed…

OPCW News – Feb18, 2009

OPCW Director General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter received a letter from US President Barack Obama in response to the DG’s letter congratulating the President on his electoral victory. In the letter, President Obama stated he was confident that the US and the OPCW could work closely to ‘build a more secure world.’

Iraq, the most recent nation to accede to the CWC has designated its National Authority for the CWC. The Convention entered into force for Iraq on February 12, 2009.

On February 17, Chinese H. E. Ambassador Zhang Jun addressed the General Debate of EC-55 of the OPCW. In his address he gave a positive evaluation of the OPCW’s work but also voiced concerns over chemical weapons left in China after the Japanese occupation in WWII. Ambassador Zhang, asserted that, ‘the destruction of JACWs [Japanese Abandoned Chemical Weapons] is even more important and urgent since they constantly constitute a real threat to the people.’

Chemical Weapons News – Week of February 16

Why Chemical Warfare Is Ancient History – Time
The prospect of chemical and biological warfare in this age of anthrax scares and WMD can feel – like the threat of nuclear Armageddon before it – like a uniquely modern terror…

Bechtel wins recognition for safety at Pueblo plant – The Pueblo Chieftain
This coming Wednesday, the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant project will receive the highest level of recognition…

Into the hot zone –
Not many people would be willingly exposed to nerve gas and other toxic agents, but several officials from the six-county area did…

Syria building chemical weapons plant – The Jerusalem Post
Syria has been conducting extensive construction work on a chemical weapons facility in the country’s northwest, satellite images obtained by the defense analyst group Jane’s reveal…

Chemical romance – Syria’s unconventional affair develops –
Satellite images from several commercial sources gathered from 2005 to 2008 have shed light on activity at the chemical weapons facility…

Syria reportedly stepping up production of chemical weapons –
Syria has stepped up production of its chemical weapons recently, according to a lengthy article featured in the latest edition of Jane’s defense news Web site…

Syria developing chemical weapons site: Jane’s – AFP
Syria has increased activity at a suspected chemical weapons production site, a move likely to increase tension with Israel, Jane’s defence information group said Wednesday…

UK on Global Threat Reduction Programme 6th Annual Report – ISRIA
A report on progress made on reducing the threat of proliferation of dangerous nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical materials and expertise was published by the government, 17 February 2009…

Chemical Weapons News – Week of February 10

Storm Slows ‘Swift Solution’ – Richmond Register
The recent inclement weather has put a temporary halt on Operation Swift Solution at the Blue Grass Army Depot, and operations are to begin again on Monday, Feb. 9.

Nerve Agent May be Missing – Deseret News
Is the Army missing some nerve gas? Pentagon auditors concede that is a remote possibility because of discrepancies in records…

Veolia Completes Nerve Agent Destruction Contract; Expects Another – The Enterprise
Veolia Environmental Services is anticipating its next project to destroy a neutralized chemical nerve agent for the U.S. Army after marking its successful completion of incinerating…

Discrepancies Found in U.S. Nerve Agent Storage, Destruction Numbers – Global Security Newswire
Figures for the storage of lethal nerve agents at bases around the United States do not match accountings for disposal of the material…

Depot Team Moving to Mall – – Lexington Herald-Leader
About 250 government and contracted employees of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction-Pilot Plant will move to new headquarters in Richmond Mall…

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.

Recent CW News

Jan 16 – The Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky is continuing the disposal of three bulk containers once filled with sarin nerve agent.

Jan 23 – Chinese officials have pressed Japan to follow through on its pledge to recover and eliminate chemical weapons abandoned in China at the close of World War II.

Jan 27 – The Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas is expected to meet the April 2012 international deadline for disposal of its stockpile of chemical weapons.

Jan 29 – The Umatilla Chemical Depot in Oregon is continuing preparations for disposal of more than 2,000 ton containers of mustard blister agent.

Iran Accuses Israel of using CW

Iran has accused Israel of using white phosphorus in their military campaign against Hamas in Gaza. In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki urged for ‘serious and effective action’ over Israel’s use of chemical weapons in Gaza.

Iran, which has continually supported the CWC, has urged for tighter restrictions on the use of white phosphorus.

White phosphorus is an incendiary agent that is often used in combat to create smokescreens or to illuminate targets at night. It remains a contentious issue under the CWC and Geneva Convention because its use is not permitted in civilian areas.

News Stories:

Iran Accuses Israel of using Phosphorus in Gaza – Reuters

Iran Blasts Israel for Employing Phosphorus Bombs – Tehran Times

Iran Accuses Israel of using Chemical Weapons in Gaza – China View

Gaza Family Returns Home after Phosphorus Blast – The Associated Press

Gaza Film Shows White Phosphorus from Alleged Israeli Attack – The Guardian

Iran’s IAEA ambassador warns against Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza – ISNA

Israeli Completes Gaza Troop Pull-out – The Associated Press

Iraq Joins the CWC

On January 13, 2009 Iraq deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The convention will enter into force for Iraq on February 12, 2009, making them the 186th State Party to the convention. The accession of Iraq leaves only 9 states outside of the CWC; the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Israel and Myanmar are CWC signatories but have yet to ratify it. Angola, the People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic have neither signed nor ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The accession of Iraq coupled with the December 2008 accession of Lebanon mark significant progress toward the OPCW goal of CWC universality.

On January 14 the US State Department issued a press release regarding Iraq’s accession into the CWC.

News Stories:

Iraq Joins Chemical Weapons Convention – Global Security News Wire

Iraq Signs UN Treaty Banning Chemical Weapons – VOA News

Iraq ratifies treaty banning chemical weapons – Yahoo News

Iraq Ratifies Treaty Banning Chemical Weapons – The Telegraph

Iraq Ratifies Treaty Banning Chemical Weapons – Kansas City Star

Iraq Signs UN Treaty Outlawing Chemical Weapons – Channel News Asia

Iraq Ratifies Treaty Banning Chemical Weapons – Khaleej Times

Iraq Signs UN Treaty Outlawing Chemical Weapons – The Morning Star

Iraq Signs Up For Chemical Weapon Ban – ABC News Australia

Iraq Ratifies Treaty Banning Chemical Weapons – Las Vegas Sun

Iraq Ratifies Chemical Weapons Treaty – UPI

Iraq Accedes to International Chemical Weapon Ban – Reuters

Ban Welcomes Iraq’s Deposit of Instrument to CWC Accession – Zawya

Lebanon Joins the CWC

On November 20, 2008 Lebanon deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The CWC will enter into force for Lebanon on Dec 20, 2008, 30 days after accession.

With the inclusion of Lebanon in the CWC only 10 states remain outside of the Convention. The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified the CWC and Angola, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic have neither signed nor ratified the CWC.