Chemical warfare review Essay

President Reagan last week signed an executive order setting up a nine-member bipartisan commission to review the United States’ chemical warfare policy. Though it is official U.S. policy to advocate a complete and verifiable ban on chemical weapons, until such a ban is achieved, “it is also U.

S. policy to deter chemical attack against the United States and its allies,” explains Maj. Richard Ziegler, a spokesman for the Department of Defense (DOD). And having “a credible chemical warfare retaliatory capability” is deemed essential to that deterrence, he says.

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That’s why in recent years, the administration has tried to convince Congress to resume chemical weapons production. The fiscal year 1986 budget requests roughly $168 million for that purpose. The new panel — members of which have not yet been named–will be asked to report to the President by Feb. 15 on whether the national needs a retaliatory stockpile; by March 1 on the existing stockpile’s adequacy; and by March 15 on whether DOD should begin developing “binary” weapons — chemicals that become toxic only after being mixed on the battlefield, shortly before use.


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