Some types of chemical munitions contain propellants or explosives in addition to chemical warfare agents.
Syrian Chemical Weapon Disposal: A cardboard box contained numerous uncatalogued photographs of weapons and facilities and despite inspection missions having made a number of trips to CW sites in Iraq, there was a dearth of data available.
This was partly a consequence of the absence of a coherent filing system and partly because information garnered on UN inspection missions rather than being deposited and shared had been taken back to inspector countries of origin.
The UN Special Commission UNSCOM staff included UN staffers and individuals seconded by contributing nations some of whom were fully committed to the UN objective while others were in place to gather intelligence for their nations or to prevent disclosure of the sources of the chemicals, equipment and expertise that had allowed Iraq to amass a substantial CW capability.
The following month, the first Chemical Destruction Group [CDG] mission to Iraq took place and despite pre-mobilisation warnings to the contrary, and participant expectations, they did not encounter hostility from the Iraqi people nor the level of obstruction from Iraqi government officials that might have been reasonably anticipated.
Then and throughout the following months, the operational security environment for those engaged in the work of Chemical weapons disposal CDG was overwhelmingly benign. However the CDG was largely unimpeded in its ability to continue with its mission. Despite the danger inherent in working with potentially lethal items that in addition to the CW agent included unstable high explosive and rocket fuel, strict operating protocols ensured the safety of the CDG; the greater health hazard being posed by working in temperatures of up to 55 degrees centigrade while wearing protective respirators and chemical suits.
A visit to the 25 square kilometre Al Muthanna State Establishment for Pesticide Production near the city of Samarra — which included production facilities, laboratories, bomb damaged storage bunkers and their chemical weapons content, and CW inventory recovered from other sites — signalled the requirement for an in-country based CDG presence until the task was completed.
The core elements in achieving success were diplomacy, operating environment and technical ability. Iraq had been defeated militarily, the world powers stood together in their insistence that all weapons of mass destruction must be put beyond use; and from the beginning, Iraqi personnel assigned to the destruction programme accepted the premise that the sooner the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile was completed, the sooner the CDG and subsequently other UNSCOM personnel would leave.
The security environment was largely benign although the degree of comfort or discomfort experienced by team members was variable and dependent on the level of previous exposure to a potentially hostile or hostile environment.
Challenges for Syria Syria though is not Iraq and there have been significant CW protection, detection and destruction technology advances over the past two decades, together with the formation of an organisation dedicated to the overseeing of a chemical weapons free world, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
However, the Syrian diplomatic and security environments are vastly more complex than those experienced in Iraq. The scale and origin of the Syrian chemical weapons programme is unclear, however it is reasonable to assume similarities with the Iraqi programme.
Agents are likely to include those that attack the nervous system, sarin, VX and tabun, the lethality of which will have reduced if they were stored for long periods, and high grade mustard blister agent with a total volume of tonnes having been suggested. The carriers for the weaponised agent are likely to be predominantly mm rockets and mm artillery shells and small numbers of Scud missiles.
It is not a given that when the OPCW goes to the UN Security Council they will receive the unanimous support necessary to undertake their mission as they would wish and compromise is likely to be dictated.
In addition, the sophisticated health and safety regimes developed within the OPCW and externally since the Iraq destruction programme are likely to shape operational delivery.
In Iraq the threat of actual military strikes were the ultimate coercion, but this will not be mandated in the case of Syria. Although peace negotiation overtures have been made, it is unlikely that peace will have been achieved within the agreed chemical weapons destruction time-frame.
In fact a peace agreement between the Syrian government and the extreme elements of the opposition coalition seems unlikely under any circumstances.
It would require the securing of chemical weapons sites or transportation to and concentration at one site under combat conditions. Logistical Challenge To achieve this would necessitate the commitment of a substantial military force, full co-operation of the Syrian government in declaring all sites and inventory; and pose significant logistic challenges.
Mission success will also be eluded if there is a mismatch between the two, or if the Syrians have destroyed weapons on their own initiative, handed them over to sympathetic countries or groups such as Hizbollah as has been suggested.
The latter option, while potentially the quickest way of denying further use of chemical weapons, would also be the most complex commencing with identifying a recipient country acceptable to the parties and willing to receive weapons of mass destruction.
In it took six months to design, build and commission a destruction furnace and a caustic hydrolysis facility. And while there are now portable plant chemical weapons destruction units available, it is likely that there will be a significant delay from the passing of the resolution to commencement of destruction.
The technical elements of the destruction process are a series of straight forward steps requiring location, securing, identification, accounting, rendering safe, transportation, disassembly and final disposal.
All this while safeguarding the personnel involved, the local population, the national livestock herd and the wider environment.
The diplomatic and security challenges are far greater and undoubtedly there will be obstruction, obfuscation, difficulty in achieving the necessary staffing levels, a lack of consensus. Moreover, though we would all wish otherwise, there is the strong possibility that it may be a 'mission impossible' and then a return to the UN Security Council will be called for, with the possibility of the sanctioning of air strikes which result in collateral damage including the release of chemical warfare agent into the atmosphere with a deleterious impact on the health of people whether pro or anti-Syrian government.
It is also within the bounds of credibility, in a country that has witnessed the overrunning of government facilities and members of the government forces changing their allegiance in favour of opposition groups as the Syrian government claimsthat the opposition do indeed now hold chemical weapons inventory beyond the reach of inspection and destruction teams.
In the meantime Islamic Jihadists and Christian fundamentalists prepare for Armageddon which according to their respective prophesises is centred on Damascus.
In Garth Whitty, a British Army Bomb Disposal Officer with extensive experience of chemical weapons disposal, was seconded to the UN Special Commission to Iraq and tasked with the establishment of an international team charged with the destruction of Iraq's chemical weapon stockpile and associated infrastructure.Chemical Weapons Disposal At the end of World War II Australia’s chemical weapons stocks needed disposal.
There was uncertainty as to the best methods of disposal. U.S. Chemical Weapons Disposal Defense and State Department officials testified about fiscal year budget requests for funding the Army’s program for destroying U.S.
stockpiles of lethal. As the international community debates what should be done with Syria's chemical weapons program, here is a look at what chemical weapons are, and what it takes to safely dispose of them.
In , DoD chose the neutralization method to destroy chemical warfare agents stored at chemical agent disposal facilities in Aberdeen, Maryland, and Newport, Indiana. During the destruction process (called chemical hydrolysis), sodium hydroxide was added to the chemical warfare agents.
A chemical weapon (CW) is a specialized munition that uses chemicals formulated to inflict death or harm on humans. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), "the term chemical weapon may also be applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or .
The Army wants to change the way it destroys part of its chemical weapons stockpile in Colorado, but some people worry that could increase the chances of contaminating the air.