Rigid Structures, Evolving Threat: Preventing the Proliferation and Use of Chemical Weapons

Chemical weapons are back. Since 2012, the growing number and types of CW uses have increasingly challenged the anti-CW regime. Furthermore, the shifting security environment has revealed emerging challenges to and increased pressure points on the system of restraint, which shapes nations’ behavior and encourages restraint through several different, often mutually reinforcing mechanisms: taboos, lack of benefit, norms, and deterrence. 
This study examines the evolving and changing nature of chemical weapons and how the system of restraint must adapt to ensure that the proliferation and use of chemical weapons do not reemerge as endemic features of the global security landscape. The study provides a framework for structuring the problem, identifies gaps and challenges, and puts forward options for improving the global effort to prevent the proliferation and use of these weapons.

This report is made possible through the support of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the Center for Strategic and international Studies under agreement number FA 7000-18-1-0008.

Suzanne Claeys

Suzanne Claeys

Former Associate Director and Associate Fellow, Project on Nuclear Issues

Rebecca Hersman

Cyrus A. Jabbari