Biology and Chemical Warfare
Chemical and Biological Warfare, use of harmful or deadly chemical or biological agents as weapons of war. These agents can kill many people and are considered weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons are made up of poisonous chemical compounds, whereas biological weapons are living microorganisms. Toxin weapons contain poisonous chemical products of living organisms and are sometimes classified separately. Chemical and biological weapons can cause injury in several ways. Most cause injury or death when inhaled, and some cause injury through contact with skin or through ingestion of contaminated food.
A chemical or biological attack usually involves dispersing agents into the air.
This can be done in various ways, such as firing artillery shells that burst in mid-air, or using airplanes to spray the agents over an area. If released outdoors, these types of weapons can be affected by weather conditions. Rain would reduce the effectiveness of the agents, and wind might spread them in unexpected directions. Because chemical and biological agents are seen as random, dangerous, and particularly cruel weapons, they have rarely been used. In the 20th century, chemicals were used extensively as battlefield weapons only in World War I (1914-1918) and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).
The release of the nerve agent sarin in a Tokyo subway in 1995 was a rare terrorist chemical attack.
The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention are the most recent international agreements prohibiting these types of weapons, and both have been signed by many countries. Nevertheless, analysts contend that following the Iran-Iraq War, more countries began to secretly develop chemical and biological weapons, and the threat of their use has become greater. Iraq in particular has been accused of stockpiling such weapons, and Iraqi resistance to United Nations weapons inspections in the late 1990s raised international awareness of the need for stronger efforts to control biological and chemical weapons.
II. Chemical WarfarePrint section
Chemical warfare involves the use of chemical compounds to kill or seriously injure an enemy. Several countries began eliminating their chemical weapons stockpiles in the 1990s, but the threat of their use still exists.
A. Chemical AgentsPrint section
Chemical warfare agents can be grouped into two general types: those that affect the body surfaces they contact, and those that damage the general nervous system.
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Surface agents include phosgene gas, chlorine gas, hydrogen cyanide, and mustard gas. The principal action of phosgene, chlorine, and hydrogen cyanide occurs through inhalation. Phosgene is a choking agent that causes the lungs to fill with water, while chlorine destroys the cells that line the...