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Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion: ”Challenges Of Chemical-Biological Weapons”

Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion: ”Challenges Of Chemical Biological Weapons”

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GS 2: Important International Institutions

Introduction

  • During this Russia-Ukraine war, Russia was seen claiming that Ukraine was preparing to use chemical weapons on its own people and that the blame would be put on Russia and Russia claimed that America is supporting Ukraine in this work.
  • At the same time, some countries, including the US, Ukraine, are seen saying that Russia may plan to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.
  • Amid the Russia-Ukraine war, G7 countries have warned against the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The G7 countries said in a joint statement that we would like to remind Russia of its obligations under international treaties.

Speculations around Covid-19

  • In recent times, the increasing threat of chemical and biological weapons has once again attracted public attention.
  • During the epidemic of Covid 19, Covid is being described as a biological weapon, although it has not been confirmed so far.
  • In 1997, eight countries in the world admitted that they had chemical weapons.
  • But no one knows the actual position of chemical weapons in the hands of countries now.

What is the G7?

  • The G7 (Group of Seven) is an organisation of the world’s seven largest so-called “advanced” economies, which dominate global trade and the international financial system. They are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States.
  • Russia joined in 1998, creating the G8, but was excluded in 2014 for its takeover of Crimea.
  • China has never been a member, despite its large economy and having the world’s biggest population.
  • Its relatively low level of wealth per person means it’s not seen as an advanced economy in the way the G7 members are.
  • The EU is not a member of the G7 but attends the annual summit.

What is the G7 doing about Ukraine?

  • The G7 nations have already imposed on Russia the biggest package of sanctions ever imposed on a large economy.
  • They have blocked the country from international commerce and the global financial system, and they have frozen the assets of its wealthiest individuals.
  • G7 countries that are members of the NATO security alliance have also provided Ukraine with weapons and other military equipment.

What exactly are chemical weapons?

  • Chemical weapons are any kind of munitions that carry toxins or chemical substances that attack the body’s system.
  • There are different categories of chemical weapons. Choking agents like phosgene attack the lungs and respiratory system, causing the victim to drown in their lungs’ secretions. There are blister agents, like mustard gas, which burns the skin and blinds people.
  • And then there is the most lethal category of all: nerve agents, which interfere with the brain’s messages to the body’s muscles. A tiny drop of these can be fatal. Less than 0.5mg of VX nerve agent, for example, is enough to kill an adult.
  • All of these so-called chemical agents can be used in warfare in artillery shells, bombs and missiles.
  • They’ve been used in war in the past – in World War One, in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and more recently by the Syrian government against rebel forces.
  • Russia says it destroyed the last of its chemical weapons stocks in 2017 but since then there have been at least two chemical attacks blamed on Moscow.

Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997

  • All kinds of chemical weapons are strictly prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, signed by the vast majority of nations, including Russia.
  • The global watchdog for chemical weapons is in the Hague, Netherlands, and is called the OPCW – the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – which monitors the unlawful use of these weapons and tries to prevent their proliferation.

Geneva Protocol

  • Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use of chemical weapons in warfare, was signed in 1925.
  • While a welcome step, the Protocol had a number of significant shortcomings, including the fact that it did not prohibit the development, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

  • With the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on 29 April 1997, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was formally established.
  • The OPCW Technical Secretariat is located in The Hague, the Netherlands. Currently, 189 nations, representing about 98% of the global population, have joined the CWC.

How biological weapons are different from chemical weapons?

  • It’s a phrase used to describe the weaponisation of a dangerous pathogen such as Ebola.
  • The problem is there is potentially a grey area between working on ways to protect your population from harmful pathogens, and secretly working on how they could be used as a weapon.
  • Russia, when it was part of the Soviet Union, controlled a truly massive biological weapons programme, run by an agency called Biopreparat. that employed about 70,000 people.
  • After the end of the Cold War, scientists went in to dismantle it. They found the Soviets had mass-produced and weaponised anthrax, smallpox and other diseases after testing them on live monkeys on an island in southern Russia.
  • They had even loaded anthrax spores into the warheads of long-range intercontinental missiles aimed at Western cities.

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)

  • The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was the first multilateral treaty categorically banning a class of weapon.
  • Entered into Force on 26 March 1975.
  • The treaty prohibits the development, stockpile, production, or transfer of biological agents and toxins of “types and quantities” that have no justification for protective or peaceful use.
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