Big Red Car here. The Big Red Car is against the use of chemical weapons in any and all forms. There, I said it. It is repugnant.
But the entire subject got me thinking about it all and I did a bit of research — don’t tell The Boss because I was supposed to be working on my tan, haha — and I learned some interesting things. The Big Red Car has always been a damn good sharer, so here goes, Old Sport.
The regulation of chemical weapons
Let’s start with the how chemical weapons are supposed to be regulated. Since 1968, the world has been working on the idea of banning and destroying chemical weapons. Well really much before that in the form of the Geneva Conventions after World War I but I am talking about the “modern age” here.
This all started through the United Nations and has now evolved into an entity called the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons which administers a body of “law” called the Chemical Weapons Convention.
While this all started as a United Nations initiative, it is now administered by the OPCW from the Hague in the Netherlands. It is an independent organization which has promulgated its own “laws” or “convention” and approximately 189 countries have signed the convention.
Two countries are waiting to ratify their agreement internally — Burma and Israel.
Five countries countries have refused to join the effort — Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Syria and South Sudan. These are bad actors and likely have no intention of ever joining though the situation in Egypt is fluid and may depend upon the ultimate ratification by Israel given regional considerations.
The convention requires nations who are signatories to cease production of chemical weapons and to destroy their existing stockpiles.
The regulatory framework provides for verification by inspection.
The destruction of chemical weapons and the decommissioning of production facilities was to have followed the following schedule:
|II||20%||April 2002||Complete destruction of empty munitions, precursor chemicals,filling equipment and weapons systems|
|IV||100%||April 2007||No extensions permitted past April 2012|
As an example, the United States has already destroyed 90% of its stockpiles of chemical weapons but is still lagging given the above schedule.
Who has chemical weapons?
When the effort began in earnest, the member countries admitted to the following levels of chemical weapons:
1. A total of 71,315 tons of chemical weapons;
2. A total of 8,670,000 munitions and chemical weapons containers; and,
3. A total of seventy production facilities worldwide.
These numbers are likely not perfectly accurate as the Chinese and the Sudan are accused of not reporting their numbers accurately; and, of course, folks like Syria have not become signatories or members and thus their numbers are not included.
Currently the following countries are thought to possess chemical weapons: Bosnia, Herzegovina, China, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, Russia, Serbia, United Kingdom, United States, South Korea and the countries that have not ratified the convention including Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Syria and South Sudan. These countries also likely have production facilities in addition.
Russia had and continues to have the largest stockpile of chemical weapons. They are apparently destroying their stockpiles slowly but surely. The Russian destruction has been funded by other countries including the United States.
Who has ever used chemical weapons?
The list of actual historic users of chemical weapons is fairly short: Italy, Japan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Germany. In every instance, it was the act of a despot to use chemical weapons. The history is a bit murky on World War I wherein the Big Red Car thinks everyone was using chemical weapons — primarily mustard gas.
Of the folks who have them today, it is likely Syria, Iran, Serbia who provide the greatest concern for future use.
Why is this important, Big Red Car?
The reason this is important is because much of what is happening in Syria today — the threatened military strike in punishment for Syrian use of chemical weapons — is intended to “send a message” to the world at large.
But, really, who in the world requires this message? Who is likely to use chemical weapons and therefore be impacted by the receipt of this message?
It appears to the Big Red Car like it’s only Syria, Iran and Serbia who are likely to need “the message” and obviously they are not folks who will be influenced by the attack. Well, except for Syria who will feel the full on sting of it all.
So why send a message when there is nobody home? Hello? Hello? Please do not use chemical weapons. Thank you, now move along.
But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car? Call your best friend or your parents today. Do it.