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Introduction

  • Edward M. Spiers

Abstract

Chemical weapons still arouse a remarkable degree of ire and passion. This reaction is understandable; it reflects the stigma with which these weapons are viewed, the frustration aroused by the failure to ban them, and the difficulty of assessing their current importance. Although chemical weapons have occasionally been promoted as intrinsically no more heinous than conventional weapons,1 they have generally been viewed as particularly odious. Characterised as weapons of mass destruction, they are largely invisible, indiscriminate in their effects, and tend to undermine the body from within. Using chemicals designed for the benefit of man against man, they seem to pervert the true course of science. Such condemnation has been enshrined in the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which many now interpret as part of customary international law and as thereby proscribing the first use of poison gas or germ warfare. Nevertheless, chemical weapons have been used in subsequent wars; more potent weapons have been devised; and large stocks of these munitions are still retained.

Keywords

Nerve Agent Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Chemical Weapon Hydrogen Cyanide Biological Weapon 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Edward M. Spiers 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward M. Spiers

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