Emerging Trends in Chemical Weapons Usage

Interpreting chemical weapons use and the likelihood of chemical weapons proliferation in the Middle East.

The world may be on the brink of a new era of chemical weapons proliferation. Repeated chemical weapons attacks by the governments of Russia and Syria have undermined three factors traditionally thought to discourage the use of such weapons: lack of benefit, taboo, and the threat of retaliation. These governments’ “successful” use of these weapons, combined with a Middle East with a smaller U.S. security footprint, could make the region ripe for a new wave of CW proliferation similar to one that prevailed in the 1960s-1980s. This study will examine the drivers for the sustained return of chemical weapons use in the Middle East and suggest tools for the U.S. Government to deter, monitor and respond. The findings will be published in the summer of 2024.