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.