NBC Weapons: The White Phosphorus Follies

Archives

:

NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS

May 2, 2013: The Israeli military recently announced they are phasing out the use of white phosphorus and doing so as soon as they can introduce an unspecified replacement. White phosphorus is a chemical which, in powder form in bombs and shells, is used to create smoke (to hide troops from enemy view) and light (to illuminate the battlefield) because it burns very hot and fast. For nearly a century armies have used white phosphorus like this but never as a weapon. The Israelis are replacing it because they keep getting accused by Arab media (and pro-Arab media in the West) of waging chemical warfare on Palestinians because of the use of white phosphorus for smoke and illumination. Many Arab and leftists in the West keep calling for white phosphorus to be banned as a chemical weapon. The logic here is that anyone using white phosphorus is guilty of chemical warfare.

Actually, the only ones to actually use white phosphorus as a weapon are the Taliban, who have been caught, at least 50 times, using white phosphorus in their bombs to increase the casualties. This is illegal because when used deliberately to hurt people, white phosphorus becomes a chemical weapon, which is illegal according to international treaty (which the Taliban have not signed but no matter).

The Taliban obtained 82mm mortar shells and 107mm rockets containing white phosphorus warheads. Both these weapons are of Russian design and are manufactured in places like Russia, China, Pakistan, and Iran. The Taliban thus have easy access to these white phosphorus munitions via gunrunners and corrupt soldiers. The white phosphorus warheads are sometimes used as part of roadside bombs but are more often fired at military or civilian targets. Since white phosphorus causes nasty burns, it is useful in terrorizing civilians. The Taliban do this a lot to prevent civilians from telling police where the terrorists are and what they are up to. Since the Taliban are on a mission from God, they do not consider this use of white phosphorus to be a war crime. Actually, because of their divine mission the Taliban do not consider anything they do a war crime. For many Moslems, anything that Israel does is a war crime.

 


Article Archive

NBC Weapons: Current 2018 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close