Terrorist Use Of Chemical Weapons Essay Research

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Terrorist Use Of Chemical Weapons Essay, Research Paper Introduction It was another calm early morning on the subway train. Many of the passengers were napping on their way to work. The train slowed to a stop to allow more passengers on, then sped along to its destination, the central government dist rict in Tokyo. Many of the passengers found it strange that a man who got on at the last stop was wearing sunglasses, but soon dismissed it remembering how safe the subways and their homeland have always been. Well, they were mistaken. The man with the glasses got off the train before it reached its destination, but wait, had he forgotten something. By the time anyone became suspicious many people on the train were coughing. Those near enough to see the package and the clear

liquid s eeping from it began feeling dizzy and many were bleeding from the nose and mouth. This was not the only train car to receive such a dangerous package. This and four similar incidents took place at about the same time in the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995. The five packages were disguised to look like lunch boxes or soda conta iners and it was reported that the chemical agent used was an impure or dilute solution of sarin, a nerve agent developed by Nazi Germany during the ’30’s. This was the beginning of a frightening future for the modern world. “Organized and indiscriminat e murder” (Tokyo, A1) on a large scale is clearly possible and chemical weapons are likely to be a terrorist’s vehicle for mass destruction. The threat of terrorist use of chemical

weapons is now quickly forcing its way into the thoughts of people all around the world. The attack in Japan, “says Israeli terrorism expert Yonah Alexander, ‘has global implications. It’s a quantum leap to terro rism by mass destruction” (Strasser, 36). There is such broad selection of chemical weapons exhibiting such diverse characteristics that the very nature of these substances make them quite suitable for terrorist use. There are many more advantages for t errorists to use chemical weapons rather than conventional ones, and the disadvantages that do exist seem quite small. In general it seems that the chemical weapons may become a key component in the terrorist arsenal. If this threat is left unchecked th e world’s population may soon live under a dark cloud of

constant fear. This would be the fear that any crazy person, terrorist, or activist group has the potential to commit random acts of brutal mass murder at low cost and relatively low risk to themse lves. Classification of Chemical Weapons The broad spectrum of chemical agents capable of causing damage to living organisms often make discussion of such compounds difficult. Because of this our discussion shall be limited to substances effecting humans only. There are sev eral different ways to classify such agents but most useful is to classify them by their effects. There are four major categories under which the chemical agents may be classified; these include the blister agents, the choking agents, the blood agents, a nd the nerve agents. The blister agents are intended to

“cause incapacitation rather than death” (Dunn, 4). These agents were used extensively during World War I, and their use by a terrorist group depends largely on the groups objectives and moral sta nding. Obviously if the intention of a chemical attack was to injure many people and overload a regions medical facilities while causing as few deaths as possible, then a blister agent such as lewisite or mustard gas may be the best choice. Choking agents were the agents most used during WW I, but have lost much of their usefulness since the advent of the nerve agents. These substances are intended to cause death and offer their greatest advantage to terrorists by being easily obtained. Phosgene, or CG as it is designated by the military, is a common industrial chemical with a