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Author Topic: Chemicals
fatcalf
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posted 25 March 2003 12:30 PM      Profile for fatcalf        Edit/Delete Post
Much speculation today whether Sadaam will order Republican Guard to use chemical weapons of mass destruction as a defensive measure as Coalition approaches Baghdad. This raises a couple of questions (at least):

a) will the use of these chemical weapons prove to the world that Sadaam was hiding WMD from Hans Bliz; and

b) will the French keep their word (that they will join the Coalition if the Iraqi regime uses WMD?


From: vancouver | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
SamL
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posted 25 March 2003 12:49 PM      Profile for SamL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction!

They're just unconventional.


From: Cambridge, MA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
fatcalf
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posted 25 March 2003 01:09 PM      Profile for fatcalf        Edit/Delete Post
Uhhh .. weren't they part of the prohibited weapons that Hans Blix and his United Nations team were looking for? If you think modern chemical weapons can't kill people on a massive scale, do some reading.
From: vancouver | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mimichekele2
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posted 25 March 2003 01:14 PM      Profile for Mimichekele2        Edit/Delete Post
The official definition of weapons of mass destruction accepted by the UN and all international disarmament agencies is: chemical, nuclear and biological weapons as well as ballistic missile technology. In the Iraq case, the missiles of a range beyond 150km are considered weapons of mass destruction.

Chemical weapons have always been defined as weapons of mass destruction. It is fairly standard.

The definition is incorporated into many UN resolutions and is in the Security Council resolutions to disarm Iraq after the Gulf War. The definition is also in the Security Council orders given to UNMOVIC, Mr. Blix's inspection organization.

I am not sure why the expression WMD evolved. They used to be called NBC in the 1980s: nuclear biological and chemical weapons. In think maybe there was some UN conference where the term WMD appeared.

If Iraq did use chemical weapons, I am not sure how that would affect things. I would guess that it would probably accelerate the end of the war since it would be the death warrant of the Iraqi government.

Many countries opposed to the war would switch sides (if not officially, then in practice). It would definitely constitute a war crime to use chemical weapons and this could convince many people that the Iraqi government had to be overthrown by force. Given the inaccuracy of Iraqi weapon systems, many of the poisons would land on their own civilians and murder thousands - I hope we are spared those images.

It would give a huge propaganda advantage to the US-UK side. A government that uses those weapons is signalling its desperation to the world, it would be the sign it knew the game was over.

[ 25 March 2003: Message edited by: Mimichekele2 ]


From: More lawyers, fewer bricks! | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 25 March 2003 03:52 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The CBW (chemical and biological weapons -- that's what we called them in my youth) production site nearest to most of us is on the armed forces base at Suffield, Alberta, just north of Medicine Hat.

It was set up by the National Research Council during the Second World War. Under NORAD, it has long given its research free to the U.S., including during times when U.S. admins found it important (and convenient) to claim that they no longer did CBW research. I doubt they bother with that veil now, but I believe we still do research, and no one has ever been told what we produce or store.

Every once in a while people march on Suffield, and the guys there brush them off by saying that they just do "defensive" research.

Charming, eh? Our very own bugs and nerve gas.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
SamL
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posted 25 March 2003 05:32 PM      Profile for SamL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
CS (tear gas) is a chemical weapon. It may also have been on the list of prohibited weapons for Iraq, IIRC. It's been used against civilians in the US, Canada, and most recently against Swiss schoolchildren outside the offices of the WHO.

quote:
weren't they part of the prohibited weapons

Yes, but like I've already stated, just because Iraq isn't allowed to have them doesn't mean that they're all WMD's. Medium-range missiles aren't WMD's either.

quote:
In the Iraq case, the missiles of a range beyond 150km are considered weapons of mass destruction

No, a weapon of mass destruction is a weapon of mass destruction, regardless of the country that has them. In the Iraq case, they are prohibited.

quote:
If you think modern chemical weapons can't kill people on a massive scale, do some reading.

I never said that I thought that. Eventually, anything can be harmful. Premature infants placed in high concentrations of oxygen develop eye problems. Too much Vitamin C (granted, way too much Vitamin C) will give you cardiovascular problems.

Now let's think of chemical weapons that we know of:

  • CS. Sure you can die from CS. It's not a pleasant experience, or so I've heard, but Mass Destruction?!?
  • Mustard gas and chlorine gas. Used during WWI, and yes, they caused many deaths. Enough to put them in the same league as nuclear or biological weapons?
  • Sarin. It was used in the Tokyo subway attack several years back. Large quantity of chemical in a crowded rush-hour Tokyo subway, 5,500 affected, 641 hospitalized, less than 15 dead. That same quantity of a virus like Ebola or smallpox, or of fissile material in an explosive would have killed thousands if not more.

quote:
The definition is incorporated into many UN resolutions and is in the Security Council resolutions to disarm Iraq after the Gulf War. The definition is also in the Security Council orders given to UNMOVIC, Mr. Blix's inspection organization.


Prohibited? Yes. Unconventional? Yes. Massively Destructive? No.

The amount of chemical needed to kill as many as a nuclear bomb or a moderately successful bio-war/terrorism campaign would be ridiculously large. Modern chemical weapons don't pack a punch -- and an unconventional one at that -- but they aren't WMDs.

Nuclear bombs can level entire cities, and the radiation sticks around for quite some time. Bioweapons infect and reproduce, and reinfect, and thus to some extent are self-perpetuating after the initial release.
Chemical weapons sit in the air, disperse, degrade, and denature, and the amount needed to cause as many deaths as there were at Hiroshima and Nagasaki is just plain prohibitive.


From: Cambridge, MA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mimichekele2
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posted 25 March 2003 08:05 PM      Profile for Mimichekele2        Edit/Delete Post
Well, I guess you'll have to call the UN and tell all the disarmament experts that they don't understand their own definitions.

The definition of WMD is what it is. I was just providing the accepted definition. We can't reinvent the dictionary or specialized vocabularies everyday

[ 25 March 2003: Message edited by: Mimichekele2 ]


From: More lawyers, fewer bricks! | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Moredreads
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posted 25 March 2003 08:57 PM      Profile for Moredreads     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Speculation is the operative word here.

One need only look at the recent spate of announcements by the same source to determine the credibility level of the source of this speculation:

1) Repeatedly anounced the capture of towns and cities it did not control.

2) Announced the surrender of the 51st division and its commander, when no such thing occurred.

3) Announced the general surrender of the 18th Mechanized division, when no such thing occurred.

We will wait and see, but I highly doubt that their will be any use of Chemical weapons by Iraq even if they have them, as Saddam is also fighting a PR war.


From: Canada | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 25 March 2003 09:09 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"Weapons of Mass Destruction" is a catch-phrase intended to cause the requisite bleating among the herd.

SamL is quite correct in his assessment of WMDs as military ordnance.


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
fatcalf
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posted 25 March 2003 09:14 PM      Profile for fatcalf        Edit/Delete Post
Hey SamL -- you think sarin is a completely normal bit of military ordinance? Talk to people who survived the Tokyo subway attack. Even the French have said they would intercede if chemical weapons were used.

[ 25 March 2003: Message edited by: fatcalf ]


From: vancouver | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Moredreads
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posted 25 March 2003 09:28 PM      Profile for Moredreads     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It is not conventional, but it is no more a weapon of mass destruction than a MOAB, or carpet bombing. I would actually agree that when any of the above are used they are technically WMD.
From: Canada | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
SamL
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posted 25 March 2003 10:15 PM      Profile for SamL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
sarin is a completely normal bit of military ordinance?

What part of the distinction between "unconventional" and "massively destructive" do you not understand.

I never said it was normal. I said it was unconventional 3 times. One. Two. Three.

Cripes, I could probably add common household substances to my frigging eye-glass cleaning solution and create a "chemical-based irritant substance" (read: chemical weapon).

I'm not saying that these weapons are acceptable, normal, or anything along those lines. All that I want to get across is that lumping them in with the true WMDs is nothing more than re-spewing propaganda.


From: Cambridge, MA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
fatcalf
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posted 25 March 2003 10:21 PM      Profile for fatcalf        Edit/Delete Post
So, what is the triggering number for WMD? For example, if a quart of Sarin killed 10,000 people, would that qualify?
From: vancouver | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Moredreads
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posted 25 March 2003 10:40 PM      Profile for Moredreads     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What if they landed a number of SCUD missiles on the moon, so as to thow it out of orbit in a manner specifically calculated so that it would crash into the continental US?

Hmmm, the possibilities boggle the mind.


From: Canada | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
fatcalf
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posted 25 March 2003 10:50 PM      Profile for fatcalf        Edit/Delete Post
If they launched a pile of SCUD missiles, would the turbulence upset your dreads?
From: vancouver | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Moredreads
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posted 25 March 2003 11:24 PM      Profile for Moredreads     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Not likely, as anyone who watched the last war knows, the SCUD campaign was completely inefective, and that was when Iraqi's DID have chemical weapons and did not use them against the forces arrayed against them.

Are you a Sci-fi fan, your imagination suggest such. What it they had this, what if they had that, what if they did this, etc. Where's the beef?

[ 25 March 2003: Message edited by: Moredreads ]


From: Canada | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Whazzup?
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posted 26 March 2003 12:30 PM      Profile for Whazzup?     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Prohibited? Yes. Unconventional? Yes. Massively Destructive? No.

It seems a little strange to illustrate the potency of Sarin by referring to the Tokyo subway incident, when a far more relevant example is at hand: Iraqi Kurdistan. Not massively destructive? Are you joking?

It is not at all "prohibitive" to cause Hiroshima-size casualties with gas. Gas is cheap to produce, unlike nuclear weapons. And as destructive and indiscriminate as nuclear bombs and carpet-bombing can be (and I agree with Moredreads that these are WMDs), nothing is more indiscriminate (another sense of "mass") than chemical or biological weapons.


From: Under the Rubble | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged

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