Chemical Weapons: A Summary Report of Characteristics and Effects [December 13, 2012] [open pdf - 244KB]
From the Document: "Experts believe that terrorist use of chemical agents is an event with low probability, but potentially high consequences. While terrorist groups may or may not have an increased interest in chemical agent acquisition and use, the domestic vulnerability of the United States to chemical attack remains an issue. The possibility that terrorist groups might obtain insecure chemical weapons led to increased scrutiny of declared Libyan chemical weapon stockpiles following the fall of the Qadhafi regime. Experts have expressed similar concerns regarding the security of purported Syrian chemical weapons, reportedly including stocks of nerve (sarin, VX) and blister (mustard gas) agents, and their potential use. Policy approaches to reducing chemical vulnerability have generally treated chemical agents as a group, rather than addressing specific agents. Additionally, military and civilian chemical agent detection have developed with little coordination, so that civilian toxic industrial chemical kits and military chemical weapons detectors have varying sensitivities and detection capabilities. Treatments for chemical exposure vary on a chemical by chemical basis. Because comparatively few individuals have been exposed to modern chemical weapons, health care providers have limited practical experience in treatment of chemical casualties, especially among civilians. While national efforts to reduce vulnerability to terrorist chemical agent use continue, it is not clear whether these efforts address the risks from those specific agents that pose the greatest danger. This report describes the different types of chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals, their availability, treatment, and detection."
CRS Report for Congress, R42862
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html