Mustard gas has seen action in other parts of the world since its introduction in World War I. The Japanese used mustard gas against the Chinese during World War II, while the United Nations accused Saddam Hussein of using the deadly gas against the city of Halabja in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war to kill approximately 3,200 to 5,000 civilians [source: Blister Agent HD, The Nation]
According to CNN, troops in the Gulf War may have dealt with mustard gas on several occasions. As many as seven U.S. Army divisions, or approximately 100,000 soldiers, may have been exposed during the war. While the total number remains unconfirmed, several soldiers who served during the Gulf War experienced symptoms in line with mustard gas exposure [source: CNN].
At the end of the Gulf War, the U.N. imposed strict sanctions against Iraq in order to eliminate the risk of future chemical warfare. In addition, the U.N. adopted the Chemical Weapons Convention, a global treaty that prohibits the use of chemical weapons. The only countries that hadn't signed the treaty as of 2007 were Angola, Egypt, Lebanon, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Iraq [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]. As long as chemical weapons exist, they will forever be a threat. We can only hope they don't fall into the wrong hands.
For more information on chemical agents and warfare, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- Blister Agent HD. "Blister Agent: Sulfur Mustard (H, HD, HS)." (May 5, 2008) http://www.cbwinfo.com/Chemical/Blister/HD.shtml
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC). "Facts About Sulfur Mustard." Feb. 22, 2006. (May 7, 2008) http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/sulfurmustard/basics/facts.asp
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Chemical Weapon." 2008. (May 7, 2008) http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-274179/chemical-weapon
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Chemical Weapons Convention." 2008. (May 7, 2008)http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9384654/Chemical-Weapons-Convention
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Defining Weapons of Mass Destruction." 2008. (May 4, 2008) http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-230687/Defining-Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction
- Hiro, Dilip. The Nation. "Iraq and Poison Gas." Aug. 28, 2002. (April 24, 2008) http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020902/hiro20020828
- Holland, Rebecca. "Mustard Gas." Bristol University. (May 6, 2008)http://www.bristol.ac.uk/Depts/Chemistry/MOTM/mustard/mustard.htm
- McIntyre, Jamie. "Report: U.S. Gulf troops may have been exposed to mustard gas." CNN. Oct. 8, 1996. (April 24, 2008)http://www.cnn.com/US/9610/08/pentagon.gulf/index.html
- Reference Guide to the Geneva Conventions. "A Brief History of the Laws of War". (May 5, 2008) http://www.genevaconventions.org/
- Spartacus Educational. "Chlorine Gas." (May 5, 2008) http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWchlorine.htm
- The Medical Front: WWI. "General Descriptions of War Gases." Air Raid Precautions Handbook No. 3, first edition. 1937. (April 24, 2008) http://www.vlib.us/medical/gaswar/arp3.htm
- The Medical Front: WWI. "General Descriptions of War Gases; Chapter 2; the Vesicants or Blister Gases." Air Raid Precautions Handbook No. 3, first edition. 1937. (May 5, 2008) http://www.vlib.us/medical/HMSO/chapter2.htm
- ThinkQuest. "Chemical Agents: Mustard Gas." (May 4, 2008) http://library.thinkquest.org/27393/dreamwvr/agents/mustard1.htm
- Tucker, Jonathan B. "The Chemical Weapons Convention: Has It Enhanced U.S. Security?" Arms Control Today. April 2001. (May 5, 2008) http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2001_04/tucker.asp
- United Nations "A/RES/40/92. Chemical and bacteriological (biological) Weapons." Dec. 12, 1985. (May 4, 2008) http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/40/a40r092.htm
- Ward, Clyde. "Fritz Haber said of his chemical agents, especially mustard gas, 'It is a higher form of killing.'" Military History. May 2006.