Monday 30 September 2013

Chemical weapons

So the UN inspectors now have the taks of destroying 1,000 tonnes of Syrian chemical weapons. Such weapons were first banned by the Hague convention of 1899.

This relatively new rule book, though, was not enough to stop them being used during World War One, first by Germany, and then the Allies. They killed at least 90,000 soldiers.

During the 1930’s they were deployed by the Italians in Ethiopia and the Japanese in China. In the later stages of World War Two, President Roosevelt was advised by some to use them on the Japanese stubbornly defending Iwo Jima from caves and tunnels, where they would have been particularly vulnerable. He rejected the idea.

In the post-war era, Saddam Hussein employed chemical weapons against Iran and against the Kurds and other minorities in Iraq, while in 1995, a terrorist used a home-made nerve gas to attack commuters on the Tokyo subway system.

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