163

The reasons given by @zidadawatimmy's answer aren't wrong, but the points made in the original post are also well taken. As your decision to post this question in this forum illustrates, this is also a quintessentially political act. These chemical and radioactive weapons seem unusual, complicated, and draw attention. This is a feature and not a bug. ...


81

Chemical weapons, like certain other kinds of weapons are banned not because of people killed by them, but because of what they do to the survivors. A summary from NPR: http://www.npr.org/2013/05/01/180348908/why-chemical-weapons-have-been-a-red-line-since-world-war-i It's a little counterintuitive that international law prefers weapons that kill cleanly ...


59

Everyone knows what a gun looks like They are relatively easy to detect, and security personnel may be trained to better spot those carrying a gun. Acquiring a gun, especially for foreigners, can be especially difficult. Sneaking one into the country is more difficult. Knives are similarly "obvious", and require a close range attack. In either ...


56

Chemical weapons give a casus belli for the Western governments to increase their presence on the ground That's true that the use of chemical weapons galvanizes the west against Assad, but, I think the best way to put it is like this. "They're going to hate me anyway, I may as well go all out". There's a body of people in the west who don't want war no ...


43

Two main problems with chemical (and biological) weapons is that their effects are usually considered unnecessarily cruel, and controlling their spread is not always possible. When exposed to a chemical weapon, only some victims die right away (depending on the weapon, this group may be very small), others have to endure days or weeks of pain. While a bomb ...


34

By fact I mean some true evidence or some proof, something that can be taken as a proof in some sort of International Court of Justice, like - people who organized this attack, their motivation to perform the attack and so on. There is no such thing as an International Court of Justice for this kind of incident (there are ad hoc war crimes tribunals ...


27

Since no one else has mentioned it, another reason is that chemical weapons are most effective against people who are relatively weak. Civilians over soldiers. The old and the young over those in the middle. Lower concentrations can be fatal to children. Any weapon that is more effective against children than soldiers is one that is going to be opposed....


26

The US has recently accused the Syrian government (yet again) of using chemical weapons in the civil war. This is because Assad's government has used them in the past, as supported by overwhelming credible evidence, and is doing so again. Assad's government is doing so in hope of inciting fear and terror in a civilian population that is being targeted by ...


24

Assassinations like this are specifically done so they stand out. Polonium and nerve agents don't grow on trees, so you immediately have to turn to state sponsorship. The problem is that perpetrators are seldom caught (North Korea was just clumsy in their hit) and states who had a reason to want the deceased silenced simply deny any involvement. But you get ...


20

The circumstantial evidence is strong. It was probably the Russians. There is no definitive evidence in this case, but it is early days yet. We have good evidence that the old Soviet government developed this class of chemicals for use as chemical weapons (western powers seemed to stop production of the related compounds VX and sarin in the late 1960s but ...


13

Firstly this is an article with slightly more information: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/09/isis-seizes-chemical-weapons-plant-muthanna-iraq What is states is different from your article in several points: a) These weapons are from the 80ies (Some usage was in the Iraq-Kuwait war) Chemical weapons need to be stored properly or they degrade; ...


12

Survivors of the attack claim that bombs delivered the chemicals and the Pentagon released a map tracking the flight of a plane it says dropped those bombs. The flight path shows the plane taking off from Shayrat, one of Assad's military airfields, and flying over Khan Sheikhoun the same day the attacks occurred.


12

The BBC says: The Muthanna complex northwest of Baghdad houses remnants of rockets filled with sarin and other deadly nerve agents. The UN and US say the munitions are degraded and the rebels will be unable to make usable chemical arms from them. The CIA has information about this facility. Apparently, it was declared to the UN as a site where ...


11

The general assembly of the United Nations could pass a resolution condemning the attack. In the past, it has passed for example Resolution 47/121 condemning ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian Muslims by the Bosnian Serbs. Such resolutions can be passed by a simple majority, or a two thirds majority if the issue is considered important. General assembly ...


10

Chemical weapons are "such a big deal" mainly for historical reasons, and partly for political reasons. Prohibition of use of poisonous substances has a long history, going back to at least 1675. There's a summary of the history here. Of course, since then, many more unpleasant weapons have been invented and used. The political dimension enters because there ...


10

Here are four possible reasons why the Syrian government could have used chemical weapons in this scenario. Note that we will likely never know which if any of these is the real reason. In general the reason for WMDs such as chemical weapons is to instill fear in your enemies. If you know the other guy has chemical weapons and is willing to use them, you're ...


10

In addition to other answers, an argument could be made for the Russian interest in the events. The idea that Al Assad would launch such an attack without Russian at least tacit approval seems rather unplausible. It had to be clear that the attack would be noticed and that there would cause a strong international condemnation; Al Assad would not have ...


9

The Pentagon only mentioned that they have "identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack" and that the activities detected are "similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack". Here's the statement in full: The United States has identified potential preparations for ...


8

This is further speculation, but history may play a part. Georgi Markov was assassinated in London using ricin in 1978 (the height of the cold war). While the assassin was Bulgarian, the KGB were supposedly involved. I suggest that comparable methods to cold war assassinations are used to send a statement that the (attempted) assassination is to be viewed ...


7

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weaponshad's Fact-Finding Mission established the use of Sarin Gas in a report (PDF) released on 2017, June 29. THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 30 June 2017 — In a report released by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) confirmed that people were ...


7

There is a disproportionate cost in the development, maintenance, use, disposal, and cleanup of these weapons. Not just in material wealth, but there are also significant environmental repercussions, medical costs, and general impact on the surrounding communities. They are also comparatively ineffective in warfare considering their other ramifications. I ...


7

Does Russia's veto at the UN Security Council end any role for the United Nations in investigating the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria? Yes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_veto_power https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_vetoed_United_Nations_Security_Council_resolutions Is there a way that the 12 members who ...


6

A big part of the problem with chemical weapons is that nobody wants to admit that something relatively effective against a civilian target can be comparatively so very simple, these are generally terror weapons. Sure, VX or Sarin are buggers to synthesize, especially if you want them as a binary, but something like mustard or dimethyl mercury is not ...


6

If the attack was proven to be launched by the Syrian government, what could the United Nations do in Syria? Regardless of who launched it, the approach would be the same: investigate the case, find the responsible party, build a coalition to punish it. Assad is bad but not stupid. It would be irrational for him to do it now, given that he is having an ...


6

The answer to the question hinges on whether you consider "Agent Orange" and other defoliants used in Vietnam to be a chemical weapon. Agent Orange is toxic to humans, however its primary function is as a herbicide: to kill the forests that the Communist Vietnamese army used as cover. It is claimed that it had a secondary purpose as a chemical weapon. Agent ...


6

Yes. One of the most reported chemical attacks by the Syrian Rebels is their chemical attack on the Kurdish controlled Sheikh Maquood neighborhood of Aleppo during the Siege of Eastern Aleppo on April 7th, 2016. According to this source, the chemical used was yellow phosphorus. Although no international organizations were able to confirm the attack occurred,...


6

Article 42 of the U.N chapter allows for an attack only when international peace or stability is threatened, and article 51 allows for military attacks in self defense. Neither of them seem to be applicable in this case. Article 41 The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to ...


6

The effects of using "branded" weapons are: Creates a prime suspect, with plausible deniability due to the absence of actual proof. Strong media coverage of the assassination. This is extremely beneficial if the organization behind the assassination wants to frame someone, but it is also extremely beneficial if the organization behind the assassination ...


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