Chemical Weapons - Weapons of Mass Destruction

Chemical Weapons - Weapons of Mass Destruction
Chemical weapons and their use is one of the most important issues facing the world today. Not only is the use of such weapons highly controversial, but also the very idea of such weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of dangerous leaders. Next to nuclear weapons they are the most feared, and the prospect of these weapons not only concerns people, but also frightens them. As a result of these fears, America has entered a new war that could bring devastating effects upon our world. It is a very sensitive topic among many countries, and is out of hand primarily because of the introduction of chemical weapons to the world in the First World War. Many people have the same feelings about chemical weapons. Chemical weapons are wrong and those that exist in the world should be destroyed, but it is not that simple. Chemical weapons are very dangerous and even after their destruction, they are still very hazardous. Innocent people are being killed accidentally with chemical weapons, whether it is poor storage or bad transportation. The fact is that chemical weapons need to be destroyed, through very careful means. The production and use of chemical weapons is ethically wrong based on the devastating effects they have on the entire world. The weapons are something that is very difficult to get rid of, and we need to develop better ways to protect ourselves against their use and disposal.
Chemical weapons have been used throughout the world dating back to 430 BC, when they were used against the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War. Although they were not nearly as harmful as they are now, they still had devastating effects. Very little good has ever come from the use of chemical weapons, with the exception of a few agents used by law enforcement such as tear gas. Tear gas has been very helpful in dispersing riots across America. One example is how they were used on our campus in 1999 and this year. These types of chemicals are not the problem though. Chemical weapons such as mustard gas, sarin, and anthrax are becoming increasingly feared. During the first major use of chemical weapons in World War I, there was a death toll of 1.3 million. These deaths were caused single handedly by chemical weapons, and primarily by mustard gas. Tim Cook stated ?if the war had continued for yet another year it would have indeed been called the First Chemical War? (A Short History of Chemical Weapons 21). Before such weapons, soldiers had a better chance of staying alive if they were skilled enough.

Following the war, most countries decided that these types of weapons would only be used in special circumstances and not as a main stream military weapon. World War II was a prime example when hardly any chemical weapons were used at all. Although that was the case, both sides still had the ability to release very large amounts of many different chemical weapons. After World War II, the use of chemical weapons by our military was dropped.

Most chemical weapons lead to tragedies, not only to humans but also the natural environment. Chemical weapons do not only affect human population but they also effect animals and plants. They can also lead to contamination of water and crops in and around the areas of their use. In some respects they are quite similar to that of nuclear weapons. Both are capable of mass destruction, and with the case of poisonous gases, they ?can disable living creatures when carried by the winds to areas far beyond the immediate impact zone? (Fotion 74). This happened all over Europe in wwi. When people returned to there homes after the war, they became very ill and some even died from contamination of water and soil. A lot of the animal life was also killed in Europe because of the chemicals used. Many accidents have occurred more recently since the last major use of chemical weapons in war. Some have leaked and accidentally spilled, which killed thousands of animals and a few people. In 1969, an example of such an incident occurred in Belgium where several drums of mustard gas leaked into the ocean killing many seals, fish and a few fisherman and children. Numerous other accidents have occurred in Alaska and Utah, killing several thousand animals in both incidents. There have also been terrorist attacks in which chemical weaponry was used on innocent people. In 1995, an example of such an attack occurred in Tokyo where sarin was used which killed several people, and caused dozens to get extremely sick.

With the dangers of chemical weapons, there is the need to protect against such attacks. There are numerous ways that the different agents attack the body. Most attack through inhalation, but there are also some that attack just by contact to the skin. Although the current technology of gas masks and chemical suits is fairly safe it is not always a reliable source of protection in the case of an attack. By the time you get your suit and mask on you could already have inhaled or come into contact with the chemical agent. It is not a certain protection against such an attack in which there are no warnings. There is also the problem with contamination of water. America would have little if any protection against that kind of attack. That is why the world needs better protection against attacks of this nature.

The destruction and removal process of chemical weapons is hazardous and can bring many problems, especially when it is not done correctly. It is a long process that does not fully destroy the chemicals. The main purpose is to change the form, and make them a non-combatant form of chemicals. Even after their alleged destruction these are still dangerous. The agents become more volatile in most cases, and are more hazardous to people and nature as a whole. Not only is the process very dangerous, it is extremely slow because of the massive number of weapons that need to be destroyed and the limited number of factories that do these processes. Before these weapons can be destroyed, they must first be removed from the hands of dangerous people. This process is not simple; it is possibly even more hazardous than their destruction due to the possibility of having them used against those trying to remove them, and could even result in starting a war. A perfect example is the current war with Iraq. The main reason for the war is to remove weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, from Iraq?s possession, along with their dangerous leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam has not only used such weapons on other countries, but he has also used his weapons on his own people including an attack on the Kurds of Northern Iraq in 1988. In that attack Saddam used the nerve agent sarin, which killed several hundred people.

The United Nations gave Iraq many chances to disarm and to follow the orders of the inspectors. Iraq continually gave the inspectors and the United Nations the run around. Iraq had many weapons unaccounted for which really worried the U.S. and several other countries. Eventually the U.S. got tired of the situation and made the following statement ?Iraq has not done enough to convince the world that it is genuine about disarming itself? (The Economist 1). This statement was made by the United States when they proposed to the United Nations that more needed to be done about the situation. The U.S. believed that if big steps were taken soon, and Iraq began to cooperate with the orders to the full extent, they would follow the United Nation?s lead and continue the inspections.

One of the best solutions to protect against these weapons is creating vaccines that make the body immune to the most feared chemicals like anthrax. It would be the best possible solution to protecting against such chemicals. President Bush highly supports this technology and has had talks with companies such as Pfizer and Merck in supporting the production of such vaccines. Bush wants these companies to work hard at ?creating an impenetrable drug shield against chemical and biological weapons? (The Economist 60). The drug companies believe that they could create a vaccine not for a single agent but one that could protect against many different chemical weapons. On the other hand, these pharmaceutical companies have many reasons for not getting involved in this program of making vaccines. Some include the cost and the risks in working with the chemicals to produce a vaccine. Within these risks, such a program would have to be funded by the government for these companies to comply.

There is no reason for the use of chemical weapons to continue. It is a world wide problem that needs to be solved. There is no positive aspect of chemical weapons, they do not only harm people, but they have devastating effects on the entire world. If it is not something that we can get rid of, then America needs to come up with better sources of protection against chemical weapons. Although there are many other weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons are seen as morally wrong, and are the most feared because of their nature. There are no positive aspects to the use of chemical weapons and there never will be. Chemical weapons are ethically wrong and should never be produced or utilized again no matter what the circumstance. If chemical weapons are not something we can eliminate, then we need to come up with better ways to protect ourselves and the world from them.

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