International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation

By Gordon M. Burck; Charles C. Flowerree | Go to book overview

Preface

In recent years chemical weapons have spread to parts of the world that had not previously harbored these weapons, highlighted by Iraq's use of chemicals in its war with Iran during the 1980s. The attention to the spread of chemical weapons generated by that war gave rise to a general perception that "the poor man's nuclear weapon," as chemical weapons are sometimes called, were spreading to an alarming number of countries. Since thus far there has been no systematic effort to examine in detail the information on the public record concerning individual countries suspected of having or seeking chemical warfare capabilities, an attempt to do so commended itself to the Federation of American Scientists ( FAS) as a useful contribution to the public understanding of the issues involved. Research for this book was undertaken as part of a two-year project under FAS Fund auspices whose purpose was to increase public awareness of the chemical weapons problem and to generate support for efforts to eliminate the threat of chemical warfare through a global chemical weapons ban.

The authors are acutely aware of the fact that in the situation presented by the spread of chemical weapons they can provide an analysis only of the state of affairs at the time of writing; subsequent events or the availability of new information could alter some of the conclusions reached in this study. The information cutoff for this book was September 1990 except for relevant military developments in the Persian Gulf through mid-February 1991. Moreover, unclassified information on some aspects of the problem has been and will continue to be difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, they believe that they have been able to provide a solid basis for future assessments of the proliferation problem.

The term "chemical warfare" (CW) has been applied to the use of many different types of toxic substances to inflict death or injury on an adversary. In this study the authors have chosen to limit the discussion to the capabilities of countries to employ or produce agents that could be used for conducting chemical warfare by organized military units. For this reason the analyses of the CW

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