Chemical Weapons From Wikipedia
Chemical weapons are different than regular weapons (like bombs) or nuclear weapons because they do not explode. Some chem. weapons are meant to kill people; they do this by poisoning them. Other chem. weapons are meant to “incapacitate” people (make them unable to fight back). They do this by causing pain, injuries, or sickness.
Chemical warfare does not include using living organisms (like anthrax bacteria) to make people sick. That is called biological warfare.
However, some living organisms make toxins (poisons). These toxins are not alive. For example, botulinum toxin is made by a bacteria, and ricin is made by the castor oil plant. Because botulinum toxin and ricin are not alive, using them to make people sick is called chem. warfare. This is explained in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention also says that any toxic chemical is a chem. weapon unless it is used for legal reasons.
About 70 different chemicals have been used or stockpiled (saved up) as chem. warfare agents during the 20th century. The Chemical Weapons Convention says that all of these chemicals should be destroyed.
The Chemical Weapons Convention lists three different groups of chemicals. These are chemicals that are poisonous enough to be used as chem. weapons, or chemicals that may be used to make chem. weapons.
- Schedule 1 Substances (Chemicals): These chemicals can be used for nothing but chem. weapons (or for very few other things). Because of this, they may only be made or used for research; medicine; to make medications or antidotes; or for protective reasons (for example, to test chemical weapons sensors, which can tell when a chemical weapon is nearby, or to test protective clothing). Examples include nerve agents, ricin, lewisite, and mustard gas. If a country makes over 100 grams of any of these chemicals, the country must report this to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). A country may have a stockpile of no more than one ton of these chemicals.
- Schedule 2 Substances: These chemicals have some specific uses other than chem. warfare, but not many. For example, dimethyl methylphosphonate can be used to make sarin, a nerve agent. But it is also used as a flame retardant. Another example is Thiodiglycol, which can be used to make mustard gas. But is also widely used as to make inks.
- Schedule 3 Substances: These chemicals have many uses other than chem. warfare. One example is phosgene. It can be used as a chem. weapon, but it is also an important chem. used to make plastics. Another example is chloropicrin, which has also been used as a chemical weapon, but is also used as a fumigant (for example, to kill insects in a house). The OPCW must be told of, and may inspect, any company that makes more than 30 tons of these chemicals in a year.