OPCW is mandated to implement their elimination, and “to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties.” Its work includes:
(1) Demilitarization: destruction of all chemical weapons and precursors.
(2) Non-Proliferation: ensuring against proliferation of toxic chemicals and their precursors.
(3) Assistance and Protection: Member States able to protect their populations pledge to help others that can’t.
(4) International Cooperation: ensuring chemicals are used for peaceful, not destructive purposes.
(5) Universality: promoting adherence to Chemical Weapons Convention provisions.
(6) National Implementation: establishing National Authorities to assure State Parties meet their CWC obligations.
CWC prohibits the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It mandates their destruction. Earlier it called on all member states to do so by April 29, 2007. Russia and America requested a delay until April 2012.
Washington now wants it extended through 2020. It’s one of the few countries obstructing CWC provisions. It has no intention of destroying illegal weapons. America maintains huge chemical, biological, nuclear stockpiles. New more dangerous weapons replace older ones.
CWC mandates non-complying nations be referred to the Security Council for action against them. America’s veto power precludes efforts to deter its lawlessness.
Drafted in September 1992, CWC was signed on January 13 1993, and became effective on April 29, 1997. Currently, 188 State Parties are signatories, including Russia and China. Israel signed on in 1993, but hasn’t ratified it. OPCW functions as its implementing organization.
For nearly 20 years, Conference on Disarmament negotiations failed to assure all chemical weapons are destroyed. Most nations comply. America doesn’t. Its 16th session will address the issue.
Chemical weapons include all toxic ones and their precursors able to cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation. Munitions and other delivery devices are included.
Toxic substances are categorized as choking, blister, blood or nerve agents. Best known ones include choking chlorine and phosgene, mustard and lewisite blister agents (or vesicants), hydrogen cyanide blood agents, and sarin, soman and VX nerve agents.
Toxic chemicals used industrially are legal, despite their harmful effects. However, when used as weapons, they violate CWC provisions.
CWC’s purpose is to ensure toxic chemicals are produced only for purposes unrelated to weaponry in any form.
History of Chemical and Biological Weapons
As long as chemicals have been used militarily, international disarmament efforts tried to eliminate them. The first agreement dates from 1675 when France and Germany agreed to prohibit poison bullets.
In 1874, the Brussels Convention on the Law and Customs of War prohibited poison or weaponized poison in munitions, their projectiles, or material able to cause unnecessary suffering.
In 1899, a Hague international peace conference prohibited poison gas projectiles. The 1907 Hague Convention banned chemical weapons. Nonetheless, poison gas used in WW I caused 100,000 deaths and 900,000 injuries.
In the 1920s, Britain used poison gas against Iraqis. In 1919, as Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill advocated them in a secret memo, stating: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.”
In 1928, the Geneva Protocol prohibited gas and bacteriological warfare.
In 1931, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads infected human subjects with cancer cells – under the auspices of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations. Rhoads later conducted radiation exposure experiments on American soldiers and civilian hospital patients.
In 1932, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study began on 200 black men. They weren’t told of their illness and were denied treatment to be used as human guinea pigs to follow their disease symptoms and progression. They all subsequently died.
Beginning in 1935, Pellagra affected millions for over two decades. The US Public Health Service finally stemmed the disease.
In 1935 and 1936, Italy used mustard gas against Ethiopians.
In 1936, Japan used chemical weapons against China. In the same year, a German chemical lab produced the first nerve agent, Tabun.
in 1940, 400 Chicago prisoners are infected with malaria to study the effects of new and experimental drugs.
Since at least the 1940s, America had an active biological weapons program. In 1941, it implemented one secretly to develop bioweapons, using controversial testing methods.
From 1942 to 1945, America’s Chemical Warfare Services began mustard gas experiments on about 4,000 servicemen.
In 1943, biological weapons research at Fort Detrick, MD began.
In 1944, the US Navy used human subjects in locked chambers to test gas masks and clothing.
During WW II, Germany used lethal Zyklon-B gas in death camp exterminations. Japan’s Unit 731 conducted biowarfare experiments on civilians.
In 1945, German offenders got immunity under Project Paperclip. So did Japanese ones in exchange for their data, and (for Germans at least) to work on top secret US projects.
In 1945, the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) implemented “Program F.” It’s the most extensive study fluoride’s health effects. It’s used in atomic bomb production, as well as tooth paste.
It’s one of the most toxic chemicals known. It causes marked adverse central nervous system effects. Low concentration fluoride is also found naturally in drinking water and foods. Few people know the dangers.
In 1946, VA hospital patients become guinea pigs for medical experiments.
In 1947, America produced germ warfare weapons. Truman withdrew the 1928 Geneva Protocol from Senate consideration. It wasn’t ratified until 1974. Effectively it remains unenforced.
In 1947, the AEC’s Colonel EE Kirkpatrick issued secret document #07075001. It said the agency will begin administering intravenous doses of radioactive substances to human subjects.
In July 1947, the CIA was established. It began LSD experiments on civilian and military subjects with and without their knowledge. Its purpose was to learn its effectiveness as an intelligence weapon.
In 1949, the US Army released biological agents in US cities to learn the effects of a real germ warfare attack. Tests continued secretly for years, and may now be ongoing illegally.
During the Korean War, Washington used chemical and biological weapons.
In 1950, the Department of Defense (DOD) began open-air nuclear weapons detonations in desert areas. Downwind residents were then monitored for medical problems and mortality rates.
In 1951, African-Americans were exposed to potentially fatal stimulants as part of a race-specific fungal weapons test in Virginia.
In 1953, the US military released zinc cadium sulfide gas over Winnipeg, Canada, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Fort Wayne, the Monocacy River Valley in Maryland, and Leesburg, VA to determine how effectively chemical agents can be dispersed.
In 1953, joint Army-Navy-CIA experiments were conducted in New York and San Francisco. Tens of thousands of people were exposed to Serratia marcescens and Bacillus glogigii.
In 1953, the CIA began Project MKULTRA. It was an 11 year research program (continuing under new names) to produce and test drugs and biological agents to be used for mind control and behavior modification. Unwitting subjects were used.
In 1955, the CIA released bacteria from the Army’s Tampa, FL biological warfare arsenal to test its ability to infect human populations.
From 1955 to 1958, the Army Chemical Corps conducted LSD research on over 1,000 subjects to study its effect as an incapacitating agent.
In 1956, the US military released mosquitoes infected with Yellow Fever over Savannah, GA and Avon Park, FL to test the health effects on victims.
In 1956, Army Field Manual 27-10 and The Law of Land Warfare said biochemical warfare wasn’t banned.
In 1960, the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence authorized LSD field tested in Europe and Asia.
In 1961, the Kennedy administration authorized Project 112. It ran secretly from 1962 – 1973 to test biological and chemical weapons effects on thousands of unwitting US servicemen. Project SHAD was a related project in which subjects were exposed to VX, tabun, sarin and soman nerve gases plus other toxic agents.
In 1966, New York subway passengers were subjected to secret germ warfare experiments.
In 1969, nerve gas agents killed thousands of sheep in Utah.
In November 1969, Nixon’s National Security Memorandum ended production and offensive use of lethal and other type biological and chemical weapons. It confined “bacteriological/biological programs….to research for defensive purposes,” with other built-in loopholes.
A February 1970 Memorandum ordered existing stockpiles destroyed. It restricted “toxins….research and development (to) defensive purposes only.” It declared only small quantities would be maintained to develop vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. It became another exploitable loophole.
In 1969, the General Assembly banned herbicide plant killers and tear gases in warfare. Nonetheless, open-air testing intermittently continued unabated. The Pentagon, in fact, “field test(s CBW) systems.”
For decades since the 1960s, Washington used biological agents against Cuba. It’s unclear whether they still continue.
In 1970, US Southeast Asian forces conducted Operation Tailwind. Lethal sarin nerve gas was used in Laos. In 1998, Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Joint Chiefs Chairman, confirmed it on CNN. Under Pentagon pressure, CNN retracted the report and fired award-winning journalist Peter Arnett and co-producers April Oliver and Jack Smith for not disavowing it.
During the Vietnam War, US forces used Agent Orange through at least 1971.
In 1975, the Senate Church Committee confirmed that bioweapons are stockpiled at Fort Detrick, MD, including anthrax, encephalitis, tuberculosis, shellfish toxin, and food poisons.
During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, Washington supplied Iraq with toxic biological and chemical agents. Ronald Reagan signed a secret order to do whatever was necessary and “legal” to prevent Iraq from losing. In 1994, Congress learned that dozens of biological agents were sent, including various anthrax strains and nerve gas precursors.
In 1985 and 1986, Washington resumed open-air biological agents testing. It likely never stopped.
In 1987, Congress authorized resumption of chemical weapons production.
In 1989, 149 nations at the Paris Chemical Weapons Conference condemned these weapons. After America signed the treaty, poison gas production was authorized.
Nonetheless, GHW Bush reaffirmed America’s commitment to eliminate chemical weapons in 10 years. In 1990, Washington enacted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 “to implement….the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and Their Destruction…..”
Use of depleted uranium and other toxic substances (including experimental vaccines) during Gulf War caused serious health problems to thousands of US forces. The term Gulf War Syndrome described them without explanation.
In 1997, America ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), banning development, production, stockpiling, and use of these substances for munitions or precursors.
In 2001, the Bush administration rejected the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Claiming a need to counter chemical and biological weapons threats, it spent multi-billions illegally to develop, test and stockpile “first-strike” chemical and biological weapons.
A BWC loophole lets appropriate types and amounts of biological agents be used for “prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes.” It also permits research, not development. BWC predated genetic engineering that causes harm to human health.
Post-9/11, America paid lip service alone to disarmament. Its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs continue. The 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was abandoned to develop and test new weapons.
So was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) because it expressly forbids the development, testing and deployment of missile defenses like America’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and other programs.
The proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) to prohibit further weapons-grade uranium and plutonium production and prevent new nuclear weapons added to present stockpiles was also rejected. In fact, new more sophisticated ones replace those outdated.
America’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons “that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat.” In other words, it’s more about war than prevention.
So-called missile defense is for offense. Washington’s New Start Treaty with Russia excluded real nuclear disarmament. New improved weapons replace old ones. Dangerous testing continues.
Preemptive first-strike capability is prioritized, including from space. America’s treaties aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. It begs the question why Russia or other nations bother negotiating.
The 16th Session of the Conference of the State Parties will conclude on December 2. Its most important goal won’t be met.
America won’t abolish its chemical weapons like most other states. Doing so would harm its agenda. Despite being a CWC signatory and OPCW State Party, it’s got them to use, not eliminate.