Picks at the UN on the issue of chemical weapons between US and Russian diplomats reached a new level with the arrival of Sergei Lavrov in New York. It may seem that this is an old political dispute, at the center of which is support for various groups of the Syrian war. But in fact, the Russian Foreign Minister is trying to convey to the United States the thought of a more global and truly terrible threat.
The growing threat of chemical terrorism in Iraq and Syria raises serious concerns, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday at a meeting of the UN Security Council. According to him, the terrorists "not only use toxic chemicals", but also "have their own technologies and production capabilities for the synthesis of full-fledged chemical warfare agents", and also established branched channels of access to their precursors "(intermediate raw materials).
At the same time, the "exporters" of technologies are, in particular, "a very significant segment of foreign militants among extremists". "Arriving in Syria and Iraq from abroad, terrorists have already gained the opportunity to gain practical experience and skills in the creation and use of chemical weapons," Lavrov added, emphasizing the existence of "very real risks of the spread of" chemical "terrorism beyond the Middle East."
Great threat from small forces
The head of the foreign ministry deliberately focuses on the possibility of producing poisonous substances (OB) not at the state level, but by primitive sectarian groups. Now it is difficult to imagine the sanction of any government for the use of chemical weapons in the conditions of war - for this one must have a perverted mindset and not be afraid of external condemnation. Even Hitler's Germany refrained from applying OBs on the battlefield. After the First World War, the use of chemical weapons was, in principle, sporadic, and each left a mark in history.
In the modern world, even from a pragmatic, narrowly military point of view (if for a moment it is forgotten about the moral and ethical component), the use of chemical warfare agents is recognized as ineffective, meaningless, associated with huge costs. Thus, the use of chemical weapons has moved into the sphere of terrorism and similar phenomena. The best example is the AUM Shinrikyo sect, which attacked the artisan manufactured sarin by the Tokyo metro in 1995. You can also recall December 1999 and the storming of Grozny, when Aslan Maskhadov's people blew up several containers of chlorine and ammonia.
The 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons has become the largest of all such international treaties - only four countries have not joined it: Israel, Egypt, the DPRK and Southern Sudan. At the same time, South Sudan simply "did not have time," and Israel initialed the convention, but did not ratify it.
According to experts, Israel and Egypt can possess chemical weapons arsenals, like the DPRK. It is noteworthy that in addition to the main players - the USA and Russia - at the time of signing the convention, the declared supplies of chemical weapons were available only to Libya (and where it is now?), South Korea (also the issue), India (they believe in relocation of souls, and WMD does not carries such a sacred risk of sin, as in European countries) and Albania (these almost certainly all sold in the shortest time). Syria joined the convention in 2013, after which the process of exportation and destruction of the arsenal accumulated in her immediately began, preceded by special Russian-American negotiations and agreements.
By the way, the Syrian chemical arsenal was created by American and West European firms using Western technologies, and not by Soviet prototypes. As a consequence, the destruction of the Syrian arsenal was carried out with the participation of German and Swiss firms. In the USSR, weapons of mass destruction were treated with care, and under no circumstances did they transfer the technology of its manufacture to the closest allies.
But now we are talking not about the military arsenal and industrial production, but about semi-artisan manufacturing of small lots sufficient for demonstration actions or terrorist operations, but not for use in front-line conditions.
Now, talk about the fight against the terrorist use of OM and its artisan manufacture are conducted only at a diplomatic level. It's nice, but only efforts of diplomats (taking into account the position of Nicky Haley, even it's difficult to agree with them) will not be possible to solve the problem. This is the work of counterintelligence services. Moreover, the efforts of any one national service, even if large and technically equipped, to achieve breakthroughs will be difficult. For example, in the specifically Syrian case, there is no understanding between the Russian Federation and the United States on what to regard as terrorists; hence, there is no single register of potential manufacturers and consumers of WMD for the counterintelligence of both countries. In such conditions, it is not that control over them can not be established.
In theory, monitoring of possible dangers from the development and manufacture of chemical and bacteriological weapons is formed approximately on the same principle as for controlling the largest producers of drugs. Roughly speaking, the production of cocaine in one of the initial stages requires a large amount of ether. The FBI of about thirty already monitors large and not very motivated deliveries of airtime to Latin American countries, monitors fraudulent one-day firms, breaks into bank transactions and chases the Atlantic for ships. About the same way, the system for controlling the production of OBs is functioning at the level of what Lavrov scientifically called "precursors" - the simplest constituents of the most common and elementary types of OBs.
The trouble is that in such a struggle with the production of chemical weapons, such a scheme slips. For example, the precursor for sarin (namely, this OM is massively used by terrorist groups) is the simplest isopropyl alcohol. It is widely used throughout the world - in the manufacture of cosmetics, hygiene products, as well as in medicine (ironically - due to its low toxicity). Actually, it is an antiseptic for impregnating disposable medical napkins (70% solution). How can you track his purchases or production for dangerous purposes?
The same Syria in 70-80-ies was famous for the production of elite cosmetics, especially perfume. In Damascus, Aleppo and Homs there were factories of famous French cosmetic brands. Russians of older generations can remember how scarce, prestigious and expensive were the Syrian spirits in those days under the Parisian brands. Now this industry is destroyed, as well as the pharmaceutical industry, previously no less well developed, but the stocks of elementary precursors were in the hands of opponents of Bashar Assad.
The same applies to chemical fertilizers and detergent, of which, with a maximum of desire and a minimum of knowledge, you can, of course, not prepare sarin or VX, but such a monstrous mixture that it does not seem very much.
People with unstable psyche and strange cosmological views (not necessarily from the area of radical Islam) around the world are enough, and someone inevitably has access to technology and precursors. It is almost impossible to track everyone one by one. Determine where in the end can emerge this or that technology, in advance, too, can not. At least acting counter-intelligence techniques designed for the so-called "protection from a fool", simply does not exist.
The synthesis of the same sarin is the process of esterification of the alcohol already mentioned. Another thing is that sarin is an extremely unstable substance and, for example, in Saddam's Iraq, they spent a lot of resources on finding its stabilizers, so that they could store ammunition for a long time. Not invented, but the Americans invented a binary (that is, two-part) sarin, which not only allowed the US to increase the shelf life of ammunition, but also to reduce their cost and weight.
This technological progress played a cruel joke in America. Ammunition began to be made from ultra-light and very cheap duralumin (this alloy can be cut with ordinary scissors), which allowed increasing the bomber's bomber. But such ammunition is short-lived, that is, the OM itself has become more stable, but the carrier is vice versa.
As a result, it was this fact that triggered in the US not acceleration, but, on the contrary, slowing down the destruction of chemical weapons reserves.
The fact is that when in the 80-ies such ammunition "began to flow" and emissions into the atmosphere began, the Americans simply burned ammunition and tanks in supposedly sealed cells, which in practice terribly faded. After five consecutive breakdowns of such chambers and emissions, the public began to riot, and the destruction of OM in the United States was stopped. Washington appealed to the OPCW with a request to extend the period of recycling. In this case, no one will give guarantees that for all these years, both ammunition and technology have not flowed anywhere in private hands.
In other words, the problems voiced by Lavrov are only partially tied to the Syrian issue. This is a global threat, which is difficult to counteract in modern conditions. Not only new counter-intelligence approaches are required, but also coordination between large special services, as well as the goodwill of a number of interested or suspected countries (Israel and India, for example). And all this is possible only in fundamentally different political conditions.
To create them, diplomatic efforts are needed. Even if they now look like a habitual for the UN picking and trying to cross a hedgehog and horror. And the beauty of Nicky Haley continues to solve her own career problems, squeezing her immediate boss Tillerson. But some result in the end still will be. We are waiting for that.