An ongoing Indo-US joint exercise, named TARKASH, has for the first time included “Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) terror response” in its drill.
About TARKASH Exercise
- Currently being held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, TARKASH is a joint exercise by the National Security Guard (NSG) and US Special Operations Forces (SOF).
- The drill for CBRN terror response “involved small team insertion by IAF helicopters to the target area, successful intervention in a large auditorium, rescue of hostages and neutralisation of the chemical agent weapon.”
- The exercise also included a drill for tackling chemical and biological attacks by terrorists.
- The mock validation exercise involved a terrorist organisation armed with chemical agents threatening to attack a convention hall during an international summit.
- The objective of the joint exercise by NSG and US (SOF) teams was to rapidly neutralise the terrorists, rescue the hostages safely and deactivate the chemical weapons being carried by the terrorists.
What are CBRN weapons?
- CBRN weapons have the capability of creating mass casualties as well as mass disruption and therefore, are classified as weapons of mass destruction.
- According to a 2005 study, the range of these weapons is quite extensive.
- Chemical weapons include mustard gas (which damages the respiratory tract, skin, and eyes) and nerve agents (victims rapidly become unconscious, have breathing difficulties, and may die).
- Biological agents like anthrax (causes fever, malaise, cough, and shock. Death can be within 36 hours), botulinum toxin (leads to paralysis of respiratory muscles) and plague are some examples of biochemical weapons. Radiological weapons include weaponised radioactive waste and dirty bombs as well as nuclear weapons.
- The first instance of any form of CBRN weapons being used in modern warfare can be traced back to World War I.
- The French forces, during the first month of the war, deployed tear-gas grenades that they had developed in 1912 for police use.
- Later, Germany, in October 1914, fired shells containing dianisidine chlorosulfate, a lung irritant, at the British army at Neuve-Chapelle in France.
- Countries came together to sign the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, also known as the Geneva Protocol, on June 17, 1925, at Geneva.
- The treaty prohibited the use of “asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices” and “bacteriological methods of warfare”.
- The Geneva Protocol is a protocol to the Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and in Implements of War signed on the same date, and followed the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.
- Later treaties did cover these aspects the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
- It entered into force on February 8, 1928.
- India-Parties with unwithdrawn reservations limiting the applicability of provisions of the Protocol
- Violation of the treaty
- Italy used mustard-gas bombs in Ethiopia to destroy Emperor Haile Selassie’s army in 1936.
- During World War II, Nazi Germany used poisonous gases to kill prisoners in concentration camps.
- The Americans usednapalm and the herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
- in the 1980s, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran and Iraq’s Kurdish minority during the Iran-Iraq war. The use of chemical weapons by Iraq was later confirmed by the United Nations.
- Most recently, the use of CBRN weapons came in the form of a sarin gas attack carried out by the Syrian army in 2013 against civilians during the Syrian Civil War.
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