Ukraine: Concerns Over Chemical Weapons

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Volodymyr Zelenskiy has expressed concern that Russia could use chemical weapons. Chemical weapons production, use and stockpiling is banned. Ukraine has made unverified claims that Russian has used chemical weapons in Mariupol.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has expressed concern that Russia could deploy chemical weapons in the war and there has been an unconfirmed report of their use in the besieged southern port of Mariupol.

Chemical weapons production, use and stockpiling is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Only Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan have not signed or ratified the international arms control treaty. Israel has signed but not ratified.

A chemical weapon is a specialized munition that uses chemicals formulated to inflict death or harm on humans. Chemical weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction, though they are distinct from nuclear weapons, biological weapons, and radiological weapons.

Chemical weapons can be widely dispersed in gas, liquid and solid forms, and may easily afflict others than the intended targets. Nerve gas, tear gas and pepper spray are three modern examples of chemical weapons.

Ukraine has made not yet verified claims that Russian has used chemical weapons in Mariupol. On 11 April the Azov Battalion claimed a Russian drone had dropped a “poisonous substance” on troops and civilians in Mariupol and that people were experiencing respiratory failure and neurological problems.

International law has prohibited the use of chemical weapons since 1899. The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the most recent arms control agreement with the force of International law.

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