Tag Archives: chemical weapons

The Process of Legitimation of a Nuclear Power

Soldier wears mask to protect against chemical weapons. Image from wikipedia

India on January 19, 2017 joined the Australia Group which aims to stop the development and acquisition of chemical and biological weapons, a move that may take the country an inch closer to joining the Nuclear Suppliers’ group (NSG).  This is the third multilateral export control group – after the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement – that India has become a member of.  The Ministry of External Affairs said that the series of multilateral export control groups that India has joined “helps in establishing our credentials” for joining the NSG. India joined the MTCR in June 2016, followed by the Wassenaar Arrangement in December 2017…

India’s application to the NSG has been pending largely due to opposition from China, which wants the group to first draw up guidelines for all the candidates who have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Pakistan has also applied to join the NSG, but has never been granted a waiver from the NSG’s export rules, unlike India, which was given one in 2008.

Excerpts from India Enters Australia Group, Inches Closer to Joining Nuclear Suppliers Group, https://thewire.in/,  Jan. 19, 2018

Libya’s Chemical Weapons

A Swedish Army soldier wearing a chemical agent protective suit) and protection mask .  image from wikipedia

Announcing a major milestone in the international operation to verifiably eliminate Libya’s remaining chemical weapons stocks, the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, confirmed that the chemicals have been successfully removed from Libya on 27 August 2016.

The operation — facilitated and coordinated by the OPCW — responds to Libya’s request for assistance in meeting its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The request was approved by the OPCW Executive Council and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in July 2016. Removal of these chemicals is the first stage of an ongoing operation to verifiably eliminate the remnants of Libya’s now-defunct chemical weapon programme….

Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States have so far responded to the call for assistance by contributing personnel, technical expertise, equipment, financial and other resources. Notably, Denmark has provided maritime assets to transport the chemicals

Excerpts from Libya’s Remaining Chemical Weapon Precursors Successfully Removed, Press Release of OPCW, Aug. 31,  2016

When the U.N. Sits on its Hands: Chlorine Attacks in Syria

Ghouta massacre, Aug. 21, 2013 Syria. Use of chemical weapons

The U.N. Security Council should make sure that the people allegedly responsible for chlorine attacks in Syria are brought to justice, Russia’s U.N. ambassador said on June 3, 2015….The United States has been promoting Security Council action to assess blame for alleged chlorine attacks, which Syrian activists and doctors say have been increasingly used in recent weeks.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the global chemical weapons watchdog based in The Hague, Netherlands, has condemned the use of chlorine in Syria as a breach of international law. But the OPCW does not have a mandate to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons.  In its latest report, the OPCW said a fact-finding team would visit Syria to look into recent allegations of attacks using toxic chemicals. Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told The Associated Press that the team had arrived and would visit areas that the two parties agreed on.

The United States has been pressing for “an accountability mechanism” to attribute blame and has been discussing council action with the Russians and other council members.  A Security Council diplomat… said there is no single view yet on how best to achieve accountability. The diplomat said Russia favors a weaker approach while Western council members are insisting on a resolution that puts accountability under the Security Council, in consultation with the OPCW.

EDITH M. LEDERER , Russia Wants Accountability for Chlorine Attacks in Syria, Associated Press, June 3, 2015

How to See Behind a Brick Wall: DARPA REVEALs

photon as wave packet. image from wikipedia

From the DARPA website on project  Revolutionary Enhancement of Visibility by Exploiting Active Light-fields (REVEAL) program  

Imagine, for example, squad members patrolling a street in a deployed urban environment, and an armed assailant crouching behind a car or a concrete barrier. Without the benefit of different vantage points (from the air, for example), the squad could be blind to the hidden threat. If by chance a glass storefront window were behind the assailant, the squad might spot the assailant’s reflection in the window. But if the backdrop were a brick wall, there would be no visible reflection. By exploiting currently untapped aspects of light and the varied paths of photons bouncing off the brick wall, troops using hardware based on the theoretical foundations provided by REVEAL might someday be able to detect the otherwise hidden assailant [or see clearly what people are doing inside their homes].

Another potential application could be determining an unknown material’s composition and other properties from a safe distance, avoiding the potential danger associated with close proximity and physical examination. Based on information carried by the photons interacting with the material, it may be possible for troops in the future to identify radioactive, biological or chemical threats and camouflaged targets from much farther away than currently possible.

See also FBO

The Race for Qaddafi’s Weapons, US in Libya

The fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi has kicked off a race to recover key types of weapons taken from his stockpiles, such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, by getting U.S. operatives to buy them before terrorists do.  There is evidence that a small number of Soviet-made SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles from Qaddafi’s arsenal have reached the black market in Mali, where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is active, according to two U.S. government officials not authorized to speak on the record.

The disintegration of Qaddafi’s four-decade dictatorship has created a business opportunity for looters trafficking in the war-stricken country’s missiles, which would enable terrorists to attack military or civilian aircraft. With a buyback program, operatives on the ground seek out the sellers and offer high prices to recover the weapons.  “A buyback program is now critically important,” said Matt Schroeder, director of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at the Federation of American Scientists, in a telephone interview. “In Iraq, hundreds of missiles were recovered like this and in Afghanistan in the 1990s.”

There is no evidence of looting of Libya’s chemical weapons, which have been under 24-hour watch via aerial reconnaissance, electronic surveillance and agents on the ground, according to U.S. officials.

The potential proliferation of Libyan small arms, portable weapons and old artillery shells that can be made into roadside bombs is a threat the U.S. considers serious and has taken urgent steps to combat, according to a State Department official who was not authorized to discuss the threats.  “We’re very concerned about those weapons turning up in neighboring countries,” Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, California, who has been studying the Libyan uprising, said in a telephone interview. “They’re the ideal terrorist weaponportable, easy to use and capable of inflicting large numbers of casualties.”

Army General Carter Ham, head of the U.S. military’s Africa Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 6 that Libya once had as many as 20,000 surface-to-air missiles. “Many of those, we know, are now not accounted for, and that’s going to be a concern for some period of time,” he said.

The Soviet SA-7 and SA-7b, an updated model, are the main shoulder-fired missile in Qaddafi’s arsenal. The units are about five feet long and sell on the black market for several thousand dollars, although the price fell as low as $500 when Saddam Hussein’s weapons were looted and flooded the market after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a 2004 report from the Federation of American Scientists….The U.S. State Department is giving $3 million to two international non-profit organizations operating in Libya to secure and destroy weapons and munitions. The groups have been working since early May in coordination with Libya’s National Transitional Council.

The Obama administration said in May that it was committing $1.5 million to collect and destroy Libya’s missiles and other light weapons, according to a July 6 report by the Congressional Research Service.

NATO aircraft have kept Qaddafi’s vast military and industrial complex there under constant surveillance since the rebellion began in February, and asked rebel leaders to look for signs of mustard gas or other chemical or biological weapons. The surveillance includes Libya’s two main chemical weapons depots, which are at Sebha and Rabta, according to the two U.S. government officials.  “All sensitive elements of Libya’s nuclear program, including everything that Libya received from the A.Q. Khan network, were removed in early 2004,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington. “The last of the highly enriched uranium, the bomb-making fuel, was removed from Libya in 2009.”  Libya does have a supply of yellow cake, a uranium concentrate powder used to make bombs, and it’s safeguarded at the Tajoura nuclear research facility, Nuland said.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, said yesterday in Benghazi that no chemical or biological weapons have been found since rebel forces entered the capital, Tripoli, this week. Libya agreed in 2003 to destroy its chemical weapons, which at the time included an estimated 25 tons of mustard gas and some 3,300 bombs and artillery shells equipped to deliver.

U.S. May Buy Looted Libyan Missiles Sold in Mali’s Black Market,Bloomberg, Aug. 26, 2011