NBC Weapons: No Chlorine In A Time Of Cholera

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: NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS

November 19, 2007: Apparently the recent cholera outbreaks, in some parts of Iraq, have been caused by a breakdown of already decrepit water and sewage treatment facilities. It hasn't helped that the supplies of chlorine have been subject to tighter controls due to a couple of terrorist attempts at improvising chemical weapons from chlorine (otherwise intended for water and sewage treatment.) This type of problem is likely to occur again in situations where terrorists try to improvise chemical weapons using chemicals normally employed in common sanitary and commercial processes. Investing in R&D to develop alternative, non-weaponizable chemicals might be of use.

The Iraqi terrorists have stopped using chlorine in their bombs, largely because it wasn't very effective. For all the fear chemical weapons inspire, they are actually rather poor at inflicting lots of casualties. Military professionals dislike chemical weapons mainly because they terrorize more than injure, and that terror leads to breakdowns in discipline and much more difficulty in carrying out operations. In Iraq, the terrorists killed more people, indirectly, with the cholera resulting from a shortage of chlorine for producing clean water, than with the "chlorine bombs" themselves. Indeed, the terrorist attacks against water treatment plants have been, in terms of people killed or made very ill, one of their more effective tactics.

 


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