U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 p.m. EST. The missile was tracked on a southerly azimuth. Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea. Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit. At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America.
Reuters got something of an update from ODNI on Iran’s ICBM capabilities:
Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which leads the 17 organizations which comprise the U.S. intelligence community, said views among spy agencies vary on the Iranian ICBM outlook.
He added that the 2015 date cited by the Defense Department was “heavily caveated.”
This I knew. But VERTIC’s Scott Spence and Meghan Brown wrote a piece this past August which discusses some other international legal aspects of CW use, such as the international criminal court and customary international law.
I won’t evaluate their arguments, but take a look. Interesting reading, given current events.
In the case of alleged use of chemical weapons involving a State not Party to this Convention or in territory not controlled by a State Party, the Organization shall closely cooperate with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. If so requested, the Organization shall put its resources at the disposal of the Secretary-General of the United Nations
VERTIC also points out that the UNSG has a Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. It’s described in this UN fact sheet.
After writing this post about Iraq’s previous CW procurement efforts, I ran across this BBC piece which discusses potential efforts to identify the suppliers to Iraq’s CW program. According to the BBC, a UK CW expert is discussing such work with the Kurdish government:
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon says it may also be possible to identify who supplied Saddam Hussein’s government with the basic chemicals used at Halabja.
“We expect to find samples of mustard gas in the mass graves, as we have done in the cellars,” he [said].
“And if we can break it down to its base molecule components, we will be able to see what its signature is, and then we can match it against a sample.
This, he believes, will make it possible to work out which country, even which factory, supplied the original chemicals for the mustard gas – it will not be possible to trace the source of the nerve agents.
Mr. de Bretton-Gordon notes that it might be tough to get potentially-guilty parties to cough up the goods:
“It’s going to be difficult to get a test sample from the manufacturers who allegedly made it… if they handed it over and it matched, that’s irrefutable evidence, which the International Criminal Court and others would take a view on.
“…we know there are still some chemical stockpiles in Iraq that are being dealt with, which is open source information, and we can probably get a sample from there and match it against what we’ve found here to provide conclusive evidence – so technically it is possible.”
I can’t say this is an effort I’ve thought much about. One would think that they’d consult former UNMOVIC inspectors, but I obviously have no idea. In any case, the Kurdish government hasn’t approved the plan, the BBC says.
Lastly, I did not know that one can view details of chemical weapons displayed at the Halabja Monument:
Nowadays, some of the bombs which were used are displayed at the museum in Halabja. Many are equipped with internal fans, which were used to mix the chemicals together.
I’d forgotten about the RAT distortion pedal until I read this NYT interview. It did sound great, as I recall.
Anyway, I quite liked the Skinny Puppy and nuclear weapons references:
What were your fuzz influences?
In the ’90s, I was struck with a band called Skinny Puppy. All their vocals were destroyed with distortion. When Julian Casablancas of the Strokes was looking for a vocal sound, I showed him this sound like nuclear devastation. He said “That’s terrible. Can you just give me a sound like worn bluejeans?”
So distortion can give you anything, from old bluejeans to a hair shirt?
Yeah, and sometimes you want your own personal nuclear device.
A little while back, I blogged aboutUNMOVIC’s lessons-learned compendium published a few years ago.
Well, Chapter VI of the document, which describes Iraq’s WMD procurement activities, contains some interesting bits, including a concise description of the methods Iraq used to circumvent UN sanctions:
a. Iraq had established and now expanded greatly a sophisticated procurement network consisting of a complex chain of brokers, intermediaries, bank accounts and transportation companies that enabled it, if necessary, to procure items using false enduser certificates issued for third parties;
b. After experiencing increasing problems in importing technology and raw materials from states that had implemented appropriate licensing systems, Iraq largely switched its procurement efforts to companies or subsidiaries that operated in countries where such measures had not yet been developed, introduced or fully implemented;
c. Mindful of the difficulties it had experienced in the acquisition of dual-use equipment and materials, and the likelihood that such difficulties would increase in the future, Iraq attempted to procure some items in excessive quantities in order to secure and meet possible needs in the future.
d. To circumvent technology transfer controls, Iraq attempted to purchase relevant companies (and their technical assets) and so gain access to the dual-use technology it needed.
It adds that
Consequently, in order to maintain the acquisition of dual-use goods, Iraq tried to adjust its procurement network to meet the emerging international trade norms. These changes involved the use of legitimate commercial organisations in Iraq…as front companies for the procurement of dual-use items and materials.
Some of this might sound familiar.
Lastly, I’ll add this portion without comment:
In the early 1980s, Iraq contracted a foreign company to perform a number of static field tests, outside Iraq, of conventional artillery shells and rocket warheads filled with materials to simulate chemical weapons. The performance characteristics such as the nature and extent of dispersion of the liquid payload were evaluated, as were the optimal parameters such as the burster tube length and charge strength. After the tests had confirmed the suitability of such shells and warheads, Iraq procured assemblies for 50,000 artillery projectiles and 25,000 rockets from this company for its CW programme.