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Right Intention: "Just a Few Tons" of VX Nerve gas

Friday, October 22, 2004

"Just a Few Tons" of VX Nerve gas

I happened to be re-reading the transcript of Hans Blix's weapons inspection report to the UN in January, 2003, and found this gem:

"The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed. Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons, and that the quality was poor and the product unstable".

OK. Let me see if I understand this. Iraq admitted to producing a "few tons" of VX nerve gas.

A few tons? VX is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the deadliest nerve gas in existence. According to this and other sites, 10 milligrams per minute per cubic meter (airborne) or .3 mg orally, are fatal doses. Any visible amount of VX on your skin, no matter how small, will be quickly fatal if not washed away immediately upon contact.

How many milligrams are there in a few tons? A very large number. And this is what they admitted to! The report goes on to say that although Iraq says the stocks were all destroyed in 1991, "UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared".


Blogger d0g3n said...

This raises, for me, one of the most interesting points regarding Iraq: the US (on both sides of the political isle) was very quick to claim that Iraq could not be trusted and that their claims of having no WMDs were obviously false; at the same time, much of our data on Iraqi WMDs came from their own statements about their weapons inventories. Apparently, Iraq can be trusted to provide accurate information, but only if that information supports our original thesis.

8:25 AM  

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