Below the headlines: CBW matters (1)

(A weekly digest from the internet on chemical and biological warfare issues. Emphasis is on incidents and perspectives, but inclusion of an item does not equal endorsement or agreement with the contents. This first issue covers items collected between 1–20 February 2017.)

BTWC Implementation

  • BWC Newsletter (February 2017): The BTWC Implementation Support Unit published the first issue of its periodic newsletter.

BW Threats

CWC implementation

Chemical warfare in Iraq

Chemical warfare in Syria

  • IDF to Northern Residents: Sealed Rooms, Not Gas Masks, Best Defense During Chemical Attack (Gili Cohen, 31 January 2017): The Israeli military believes that the best protection against possible CW attacks in the north of the country are sealed rooms rather than doning gas masks.
  • OPCW’s Chemical Weapons Probes in Syria, Iraq Inefficient – Russian FM (Sputnik, 8 February 2017): Mikhail Uliyanov, Head of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Foreign Ministry, expressed his disappointment in the OPCW’s investigation of CW use in Syria and Iraq last year.
  • Syria: Coordinated Chemical Attacks on Aleppo (HRW, 13 February 2017): Online report by Human Rights Watch alleging that Syrian government forces conducted coordinated chemical attacks in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during the final month of the battle for the city. According to the report, the pattern of the chlorine attacks showed that the attacks were coordinated with the overall military strategy for retaking Aleppo and were not the work of a few rogue elements.
  • Syria Used Chlorine Bombs Systematically in Aleppo, Report Says (Rick Gladstone, 13 February 2017): A just released Human Rights Watch report suggests that Syrian officials not only disregarded the United Nations findings but decided to use chlorine bombs far more aggressively in the Aleppo campaign last autumn.
  • Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in Aleppo: rights group (Anthony Deutsch, 13 February 2017): Reporting from Amsterdam, Reuters added that the OPCW had no comment on the HRW report.
  • Human Rights Watch damages reputation with report on chemical weapons in Syria — ministry (TASS, 14 February 2017): Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov dismissed the allegations made by Human Rights Watch and complained about the OPCW’s slowness in investigating evidence of earlier CW attacks collected by Russia’s Center of Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection and Syrians.
  • Syria denies HRW report on using chemical weapons (Xinhua, 16 February 2017): Syria’s Foreign Ministry denied the allegations, adding that the HRW report serves foreign agendas and seeks to affect the upcoming intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.
  • Russia Denies French Accusation vs. Syria for Using Chemical Weapon (Prensa Latina, 16 February 2017): Russia rejected the accusation made by France against the Syrian government for the alleged use of chemical weapons. France’s initiative for action in the UNSC came prior to the beginning of a second round of peace talks involving representatives from the Syrian government and insurgent factions in Astana, Kazakhstan.
  • UN-OPCW panel seeks names of Syrian commanders in gas attacks probe (AFP, 17 February 2017): The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) is reportedly seeking the names of specific Syrian Arab Armed Forces units and any entity outside the Armed Forces listed on flight plans. Its report added that the Syrian government has ignored the request.
  • Iran’s Zarif says use of chemical weapons in Syria cannot be condoned (Reuters, 19 February 2017): Iranian Foreign Minister accuses al-Nusra Front and ISIL of possessing and using CW in Syria’s civil war during a speech at the Munich Security Conference. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth, also participating in the event, expects the UN Security Council to take up allegations of government use of chlorine during the battle for Alleppo last autumn.

Victims of chemical warfare

Riot control and incapacitating agents

Poisonings

Dual-use challenges

Preparedness

Industry news

Beyond bizarre

  • Immigrants’ health (Betty N. Harp, 19 February 2017): Reader’s letter calling for restricting immigration into the US based on the applicants’ vaccination status. The call includes vaccination against smallpox.
This entry was posted in Biological, Chemical, Press on by .

About JP Zanders

Jean Pascal Zanders (Belgium) has worked on questions of chemical and biological weapon (CBW) armament and disarmament since 1986. He was CBW Project Leader at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Director of the BioWeapons Prevention Project and Senior Research Fellow responsible for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation questions at the European Union Institute for Security Studies. He now owns and runs The Trench.