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The Big Answer

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Chemical Weapons

an article by our site

Chemical weapons have become known as "the poor countries' nuclear weapons."

The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences.

Geneva Protocol, officially known as the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, is an International treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons, due to public outrage over their horrible effects: blindness, maiming, lung searing, and death. It was signed at Geneva June 17, 1925 by 133 nations and entered into force on February 8, 1928.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the most recent arms control agreement with the force of International law. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. This agreement outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It is administered by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an independent organization based in The Hague.

US Chemical Weapons Stockpiles
(Source: U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency Public Affairs Office )

As of 2012, only four nations are confirmed as having chemical weapons: the United States, Russia, North Korea and Syria. Japan has started the destruction of chemical weapons (which they'd stored in China) in September 2010 in Nanjing using mobile destruction facilities. On May 14, 2009, India informed the United Nations that it has destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons. Iraq has also declared stockpiles of CW, and are starting to destroy them. Libya's post-Gaddafi National Transitional Council is cooperating with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons regarding the destruction of all legacy chemical weapons in the country. Russia entered the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the largest declared stockpile of chemical weapons. They’ve been destroying them. (Source:

Chemical Weapons: mustard gas shells
Chemical Weapons: mustard gas shells

The U.S. policy on the use of chemical weapons is to reserve the right to retaliate. First use, or preemptive use, is a violation of stated policy. Only the president of the United States can authorize the first retaliatory use. They’ve been destroying them, like other nations. Official policy now reflects the likelihood of chemical weapons being used as a terrorist weapon. Syria is one of only 7 states which are not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention and they recently used them against rebel forces, and Obama had warned them it was a line they better not cross, or else. But they crossed it and Obama did nothing but scowl. We guess the "or else" was "I will scowl at you." However, Syria is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical weapons in war. Syrian officials have stated that they feel it appropriate to have some deterrent against Israel's similarly non-admitted nuclear weapons program when questioned about the topic, but only on July 23, 2012, the Syrian government acknowledged for the first time that it had chemical weapons. (Source:

Finally, North Korea is not a signatory of Chemical Weapons Convention and has never officially acknowledged the existence of its offensive chemical weapons program. Nevertheless, the country is believed to possess a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons. (Source:

Kim Jong-Un
Kim Jong-Un