CBW Events is a project to create a record of events to enable and encourage understanding of how policies on the issues relating to chemical and biological warfare (CBW) and its prevention are developed.

CBW Events -- recent/notable additions/updates include: (these links will each open in a new window)


CBW Events -- September 2021 selections

Each month, entries for a small number of selected anniversaries of notable CBW-related events are posted. All will appear in the relevant final versions of the chronologies.

20 years ago | 30 years ago | 40 years ago | 50 years ago

20 years ago:

18 September 2001     UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix briefs the UN Security Council on the Commission's current status and introduces its most recent quarterly report [see 30 August]. He tells the Security Council that UNMOVIC is prepared to implement its mandate in "an independent, effective and non-provocative manner". Blix also states that "the cooperation of Iraq with UNMOVIC, as demanded by the Security Council, would create the opportunity for it to build confidence, which no unilateral statements can provide, that it is fully complying with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and thus opening the prospect of the lifting of sanctions."[1]
     [1] UN News Service, "Chief of UN weapons inspectors for Iraq briefs Security Council", 19 September 2001.


30 years ago:

5 September 1991     In Iraq the fourth UN chemical inspection [see 31 August and 1 September] comes to an end.[1] UNSCOM 12 has identified four possible locations for future destruction operations at Al Muthanna as well as a suitable storage location there for CW agents and munitions awaiting destruction. And by various mechanical means it has disposed of all unfilled CW munitions at Al Muthanna.[2]
     The UN later reports that UNSCOM 12 destroyed 8157 munitions, consisting of six different varieties of bombs, 155mm artillery shell and 122mm rocket warheads. It also reports two incidents that exemplify the exceptionally hazardous nature of the work. One involved the 30 chemical-filled Al-Hussein missile warheads at Dujayl [see 18 April]. These were removed to Muthanna where 10 were opened and drained of the mixed alcohols they contained [see 11–14 August] prior to destruction. However, before the next four warheads could be opened, the senior Iraqi official present said that they contained sarin, not alcohol. The second incident was the spontaneous bursting of a supposedly unfilled 122mm rocket warhead; a near-by Iraqi soldier became exposed to nerve gas. Prompt action by team-member Lt-Col Van Erp of the Netherlands saved him.[3]
     In response to a request from the UNSCOM Destruction Advisory Panel [see 5-9 August] for examples of each type of CW munition found in Iraq from which detailed engineering drawings could then be made, the team shipped 13 munitions to Munster, Germany.[4]
     [1] Report by the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission established by the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 9(b)(i) of Security Council resolution 687 (1991), as annexed to UN document S/23165 dated 25 October 1991, pp 29-30; Frank J Prial (from UN New York), New York Times, 12 September 1991, p A17, "UN says Iraq is stalling on arms destruction".
     [2] Holly Porteous (from London), "Ridding Iraq of CW to take two years", Jane's Defence Weekly, vol 16 no 13 (28 September 1991) p 557; Bryan C Barrass [UN Special Commissioner], "Summary of CBW inspections in Iraq to date", ASA Newsletter no 26 (9 October 1991) pp 1 & 6.
     [3] Report by the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission established by the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 9(b)(i) of Security Council resolution 687 (1991), as annexed to UN document S/23165 dated 25 October 1991, pp 29-30.
     [4] UN Special Commission, Special Commission Inspection Report UNSCOM 12: Executive Summary, [n.d.].


40 years ago:

13 September 1981     In Germany, US Secretary of State Alexander Haig addresses the Berlin Press Association. He tells them: `For some time now the international community has been alarmed by continuing reports that the Soviet Union and its allies have been using lethal chemical weapons in Laos, Kampuchea, and Afghanistan. ... We have now found physical evidence from Southeast Asia which has been analyzed and found to contain abnormally high levels of three potent mycotoxins — poisonous substances not indigenous to the region and which are highly toxic to man and animals'.
     He continues: `The use in war of such toxins is prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Protocol and related rules of customary international law; their very manufacture for such purposes is strictly forbidden by the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention. We are, therefore, taking steps to ensure that this evidence is called to the attention of states and that it is provided to both the Secretary General of the United Nations and to the group of experts investigating this problem under his auspices.'
     [1] US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, speech to the Berlin Press Association, 13 September 1981, as reproduced in: `Excerpts from Haig’s Berlin Speech’ New York Times, 14 September 1981, p 8.


50 years ago:

17 September 1971     In Washington, DC, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff dispatch a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense regarding the negotiations for a biological weapons convention currently continuing in Geneva.[1] The memorandum is a response to proposed changes [see 17 August] to the draft convention presented the previous month [see 5 August]. The bulk of the memo concerns questions relating to the obligations (both legalistic and perceived) that might arise in relation to negotiations to control chemical weapons.
     The memorandum also includes the following paragraph: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff are concerned that support was not obtained for an operative article that would ban the use of biological weapons as had been provided for in the UK BW convention".
     [1] Memorandum JCS-420-71, "Negotiation of Bacteriological Warfare Convention", from Rear Admiral Mason Freeman on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, dated 17 September 1971.

28 September 1971     In Geneva, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, USSR, UK and USA submit a joint text for a Biological Weapons Convention to the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament.[1]
     [Note: This is the text that forms the final version of the Convention.]
     [1] CCD/353.