Sarin
Overview
 
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [(CH3)2CHO]CH3P(O)F. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687. Production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

 of 1993 where it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

Also known as Tsarin or Zarin.
Sarin is a chiral molecule
Chirality (chemistry)
A chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and thus has a non-superimposable mirror image. The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom....

 (typically racemic
Racemic
In chemistry, a racemic mixture, or racemate , is one that has equal amounts of left- and right-handed enantiomers of a chiral molecule. The first known racemic mixture was "racemic acid", which Louis Pasteur found to be a mixture of the two enantiomeric isomers of tartaric acid.- Nomenclature :A...

), with four substituents attached to the tetrahedral phosphorus center
Tetrahedral molecular geometry
In a tetrahedral molecular geometry a central atom is located at the center with four substituents that are located at the corners of a tetrahedron. The bond angles are cos−1 ≈ 109.5° when all four substituents are the same, as in CH4. This molecular geometry is common throughout the first...

.
Encyclopedia
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [(CH3)2CHO]CH3P(O)F. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687. Production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

 of 1993 where it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

Also known as Tsarin or Zarin.

Production and structure

Sarin is a chiral molecule
Chirality (chemistry)
A chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and thus has a non-superimposable mirror image. The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom....

 (typically racemic
Racemic
In chemistry, a racemic mixture, or racemate , is one that has equal amounts of left- and right-handed enantiomers of a chiral molecule. The first known racemic mixture was "racemic acid", which Louis Pasteur found to be a mixture of the two enantiomeric isomers of tartaric acid.- Nomenclature :A...

), with four substituents attached to the tetrahedral phosphorus center
Tetrahedral molecular geometry
In a tetrahedral molecular geometry a central atom is located at the center with four substituents that are located at the corners of a tetrahedron. The bond angles are cos−1 ≈ 109.5° when all four substituents are the same, as in CH4. This molecular geometry is common throughout the first...

. The SP form is the more active enantiomer due its greater binding to acetylcholinesterase
Acetylcholinesterase
"Acetylcholinesterase, also known as AChE or acetylcholine acetylhydrolase, is an enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, producing choline and an acetate group. It is mainly found at neuromuscular junctions and cholinergic nervous system, where its activity serves to terminate...

. It is prepared from methylphosphonyl difluoride
Methylphosphonyl difluoride
Methylphosphonyl difluoride , also called methyl difluorophosphite, methylphosphonic difluoride, and difluoromethylphosphine oxide, is a chemical weapon precursor. It is a Schedule 1 substance in the sense of the Chemical Weapons Convention...

 and a mixture of isopropyl alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is a common name for a chemical compound with the molecular formula C3H8O. It is a colorless, flammable chemical compound with a strong odor...

.
CH3P(O)F2 + (CH3)2CHOH → [(CH3)2CHO]CH3P(O)F + HF


Isopropylamine
Isopropylamine
Isopropylamine, also called 2-aminopropane, 2-propanamine, monoisopropylamine, and MIPA, is an organic compound, an amine. It is a base, as typical for amines. It is a hygroscopic colorless liquid with ammonia-like odor. Its melting point is −95.2 °C and its boiling point is 32.4 °C. It is miscible...

 is added to neutralize the hydrogen fluoride
Hydrogen fluoride
Hydrogen fluoride is a chemical compound with the formula HF. This colorless gas is the principal industrial source of fluorine, often in the aqueous form as hydrofluoric acid, and thus is the precursor to many important compounds including pharmaceuticals and polymers . HF is widely used in the...

 generated during this alcoholysis reaction. As a binary chemical weapon
Binary chemical weapon
Binary chemical weapons or munitions are chemical weapons wherein the toxic agent is not contained within the weapon in its active state, but in the form of two chemical precursors, physically separated within the weapon...

, it can be generated in situ
In situ
In situ is a Latin phrase which translated literally as 'In position'. It is used in many different contexts.-Aerospace:In the aerospace industry, equipment on board aircraft must be tested in situ, or in place, to confirm everything functions properly as a system. Individually, each piece may...

 by this same reaction.

Biological effects

Its mechanism of action
Mechanism of action
In pharmacology, the term mechanism of action refers to the specific biochemical interaction through which a drug substance produces its pharmacological effect...

 resembles that of some commonly used insecticide
Insecticide
An insecticide is a pesticide used against insects. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects respectively. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and the household. The use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind...

s, such as malathion
Malathion
Malathion is an organophosphate parasympathomimetic which binds irreversibly to cholinesterase. Malathion is an insecticide of relatively low human toxicity, however one recent study has shown that children with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in their urine are more likely...

. In terms of biological activity, it resembles carbamate
Carbamate
Carbamates are organic compounds derived from carbamic acid . A carbamate group, carbamate ester, and carbamic acids are functional groups that are inter-related structurally and often are interconverted chemically. Carbamate esters are also called urethanes.-Synthesis:Carbamic acids are derived...

 insecticides such as sevin and medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

s pyridostigmine
Pyridostigmine
Pyridostigmine is a parasympathomimetic and a reversible cholinesterase inhibitor. Since it is a quaternary amine, it is poorly absorbed in the gut and does not cross the blood-brain barrier, except possibly in stressful conditions.-Mode of action:...

, neostigmine
Neostigmine
Neostigmine is a parasympathomimetic that acts as a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor.- Synthesis :Neostigmine was first synthesized by Aeschlimann and Reinert in 1931....

, and physostigmine
Physostigmine
Physostigmine is a parasympathomimetic alkaloid, specifically, a reversible cholinesterase inhibitor. It occurs naturally in the Calabar bean....

. Like other nerve agents, sarin attacks the nervous system
Nervous system
The nervous system is an organ system containing a network of specialized cells called neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals between different parts of its body. In most animals the nervous system consists of two parts, central and peripheral. The central nervous...

.

Specifically, sarin is a potent inhibitor of the enzyme cholinesterase
Cholinesterase
In biochemistry, cholinesterase is a family of enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine into choline and acetic acid, a reaction necessary to allow a cholinergic neuron to return to its resting state after activation.-Types:...

. Sarin acts on cholinesterase by forming a covalent bond
Covalent bond
A covalent bond is a form of chemical bonding that is characterized by the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. The stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding....

 with the particular serine
Serine
Serine is an amino acid with the formula HO2CCHCH2OH. It is one of the proteinogenic amino acids. By virtue of the hydroxyl group, serine is classified as a polar amino acid.-Occurrence and biosynthesis:...

 residue at the active site. Fluoride is the leaving group
Leaving group
In chemistry, a leaving group is a molecular fragment that departs with a pair of electrons in heterolytic bond cleavage. Leaving groups can be anions or neutral molecules. Common anionic leaving groups are halides such as Cl−, Br−, and I−, and sulfonate esters, such as para-toluenesulfonate...

, and the resulting phosphoester is robust but biologically inactive. With the enzyme inhibited, acetylcholine builds up in the synapse
Synapse
In the nervous system, a synapse is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell...

 and continues to act so that any nerve impulses are, in effect, continually transmitted. Normally, the acetylcholinesterase breaks down the acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft in order to allow the effector muscle or organ to relax.

Degradation and shelf life

The most important chemical reactions of phosporyl halides is the hydrolysis
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 of the bond between phosphorus and the fluoride. This P-F bond is easily broken by nucleophilic agents, such as water and hydroxide
Hydroxide
Hydroxide is a diatomic anion with chemical formula OH−. It consists of an oxygen and a hydrogen atom held together by a covalent bond, and carrying a negative electric charge. It is an important but usually minor constituent of water. It functions as a base, as a ligand, a nucleophile, and a...

. At high pH, sarin decomposes rapidly to nontoxic phosphonic acids derivatives.

Sarin degrades after a period of several weeks to several months. The shelf life can be shortened by impurities in precursor materials. According to the CIA, some Iraqi sarin had a shelf life of only a few weeks, owing mostly to impure precursors. The persistence of sarin can be extended through the addition of certain oils or petroleum products.

Its otherwise short shelf life can be extended by increasing the purity of the precursor and intermediates and incorporating stabilizers such as tributylamine. In some formulations, tributylamine is replaced by diisopropylcarbodiimide (DIC), which allowed sarin to be stored in aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 casings. In binary chemical weapon
Binary chemical weapon
Binary chemical weapons or munitions are chemical weapons wherein the toxic agent is not contained within the weapon in its active state, but in the form of two chemical precursors, physically separated within the weapon...

s, the two precursors are stored separately in the same shell
Shell (projectile)
A shell is a payload-carrying projectile, which, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid projectiles properly termed shot . Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used...

 and mixed to form the agent immediately before or when the shell is in flight. This approach has the dual benefit of solving the stability issue and increasing the safety of sarin munitions.

Effects and treatment

Sarin has a high volatility relative to similar nerve agents. Inhalation and absorption through the skin pose a great threat. Even vapor concentrations immediately penetrate the skin. People who absorb a non-lethal dose but do not receive immediate appropriate medical treatment may suffer permanent neurological damage.

Even at very low concentrations, sarin can be fatal. Death may follow in one minute after direct ingestion of a lethal dose if antidote
Antidote
An antidote is a substance which can counteract a form of poisoning. The term ultimately derives from the Greek αντιδιδοναι antididonai, "given against"....

s, typically atropine
Atropine
Atropine is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade , Jimson weed , mandrake and other plants of the family Solanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects...

 and pralidoxime
Pralidoxime
Pralidoxime or 2-PAM, usually as the chloride or methiodide salts, belongs to a family of compounds called oximes that bind to organophosphate-inactivated acetylcholinesterase. It is used to combat poisoning by organophosphates or acetylcholinesterase inhibitors , in conjunction with atropine and ...

, are not quickly administered. Atropine
Atropine
Atropine is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade , Jimson weed , mandrake and other plants of the family Solanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects...

, a antagonist
Receptor antagonist
A receptor antagonist is a type of receptor ligand or drug that does not provoke a biological response itself upon binding to a receptor, but blocks or dampens agonist-mediated responses...

 to muscarinic acetylcholine receptor
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor
Muscarinic receptors, or mAChRs, are acetylcholine receptors that form G protein-coupled in the plasma membranes of certain neurons and other cells...

s, is given to treat the physiological symptoms of poisoning. Since muscular response to acetylcholine is mediated through nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, atropine does not counteract the muscular symptoms. Pralidoxime can regenerate cholinesterases if administered within approximately five hours. Biperiden
Biperiden
Biperiden is an antiparkinsonian agent of the anticholinergic type. The original brand name, which still exists and is manufactured by BASF/Knoll Pharma, is Akineton. Generics are available worldwide.- Pharmacokinetics :...

, a synthetic acetylcholine antagonist, has been suggested as an alternative to atropine due to its better blood-brain barrier penetration and higher efficacy.

Sarin is estimated to be over 500 times more toxic than cyanide
Cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

. The LD50 of subcutaneously-injected sarin in mice is 172 μg/kg. Treatment measures have been described.

Initial symptoms following exposure to sarin are a runny nose, tightness in the chest and constriction of the pupil
Pupil
The pupil is a hole located in the center of the iris of the eye that allows light to enter the retina. It appears black because most of the light entering the pupil is absorbed by the tissues inside the eye. In humans the pupil is round, but other species, such as some cats, have slit pupils. In...

s. Soon after, the victim has difficulty breathing and experiences nausea and drooling. As the victim continues to lose control of bodily functions, the victim vomits, defecates and urinates. This phase is followed by twitching and jerking. Ultimately, the victim becomes comatose and suffocates in a series of convulsive spasms.

Diagnostic tests

Controlled studies in humans have shown that a minimally toxic 0.5 mg oral dose caused a 38% depression of both erythrocyte and plasma cholinesterase within several hours of exposure. The serum level of unbound isopropylmethylphosphonic acid (IMPA), a sarin hydrolysis product, ranged from 2-135 µg/L in survivors of a terrorist attack during the first 4 hours post-exposure.

History

Sarin was discovered in 1938 in Wuppertal-Elberfeld
Wuppertal
Wuppertal is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in and around the Wupper river valley, and is situated east of the city of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr area. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 by two German scientists attempting to create stronger pesticides; it is the most toxic of the four G-agents made by Germany. The compound, which followed the discovery of the nerve agent
Nerve agent
Nerve agents are a class of phosphorus-containing organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs...

 tabun
Tabun (nerve agent)
Tabun or GA is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid with a faint fruity odor. It is classified as a nerve agent because it fatally interferes with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system...

, was named in honor of its discoverers: Schrader
Gerhard Schrader
Dr. Gerhard Schrader was a German chemist specializing in the discovery of new insecticides, hoping to make progress in the fight against hunger in the world. However, Dr...

, Ambros, Rüdiger and Van der LINde.

Use as a weapon

In mid-1939, the formula for the agent was passed to the chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 section of the German Army Weapons Office, which ordered that it be brought into mass production for wartime use. A number of pilot plants were built, and a high-production facility was under construction (but was not finished) by the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Estimates for total sarin production by Nazi Germany range from 500 kg to 10 tons. Though sarin, tabun
Tabun (nerve agent)
Tabun or GA is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid with a faint fruity odor. It is classified as a nerve agent because it fatally interferes with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system...

 and soman
Soman
Soman, or GD , is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a nerve agent, interfering with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system by inhibiting the cholinesterase enzyme. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations according to UN...

 were incorporated into artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 shells, Germany ultimately decided not to use nerve agents against Allied targets.

  • 1950s (early): NATO adopted sarin as a standard chemical weapon, and both the U.S.S.R and the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     produced sarin for military purposes.
  • 1953: 20-year-old Ronald Maddison
    Ronald Maddison
    Leading Aircraftman Ronald George Maddison was a twenty-year-old Royal Air Force engineer who died while acting as a volunteer human "guinea pig" while testing nerve agents at Porton Down, in Wiltshire, England...

    , a Royal Air Force
    Royal Air Force
    The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

     engineer from Consett
    Consett
    Consett is a town in the northwest of County Durham, England, about southwest of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is home to 27,394 .Consett sits high on the edge of the Pennines. In 1841, it was a village community of only 145, but it was about to become a boom town: below the ground was coking coal and...

    , County Durham
    County Durham
    County Durham is a ceremonial county and unitary district in north east England. The county town is Durham. The largest settlement in the ceremonial county is the town of Darlington...

    , died in human testing of sarin at the Porton Down
    Porton Down
    Porton Down is a United Kingdom government and military science park. It is situated slightly northeast of Porton near Salisbury in Wiltshire, England. To the northwest lies the MoD Boscombe Down test range facility which is operated by QinetiQ...

     chemical warfare testing facility in Wiltshire. Maddison had been told that he was participating in a test to "cure the common cold." Ten days after his death an inquest
    Inquest
    Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove"...

     was held in secret which returned a verdict of "misadventure". In 2004 the inquest was reopened and, after a 64-day inquest hearing, the jury ruled that Maddison had been unlawfully killed by the "application of a nerve agent in a non-therapeutic experiment."
  • 1956: Regular production of sarin ceased in the United States, though existing stocks of bulk sarin were re-distilled until 1970.
  • 1960s (developing): The US unsuccessfully sought Australian permission to test Sarin and VX gas
    VX (nerve agent)
    VX, IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687...

     on 200 "mainly Australian" troops, probably in the Iron Range
    Iron Range National Park
    Iron Range is a National Park located in Queensland, Australia, 1940 km northwest of Brisbane and 100 km east of Weipa in the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Within the National Park is the Iron Range , Scrubby Creek mining site and the Lockhart River Aboriginal Reserve...

     rainforest near Lockhart River
    Lockhart River, Queensland
    Lockhart River is a coastal Aboriginal community situated on the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia. The population consists mostly of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, whose ancestors were forcibly moved to the area beginning in 1924...

    , Queensland
    Queensland
    Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

    . While this never actually took place, the planning was in advanced stages.
  • 1978: Michael Townley
    Michael Townley
    Michael Vernon Townley is a US citizen currently living in the United States under terms of the federal witness protection program. A Central Intelligence Agency agent and operative of the Chilean secret police, DINA, Townley confessed, was convicted, and served 62 months in prison in the United...

     in a sworn declaration indicated that sarin was produced by the secret police of Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    's Pinochet
    Augusto Pinochet
    Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

     regime DINA, by Eugenio Berríos
    Eugenio Berríos
    Eugenio Berríos Sagredo was a Chilean biochemist who worked for the DINA intelligence agency.Berríos was charged with carrying outProyecto Andrea in which Pinochet ordered the production of sarin gas, a chemical weapon used by the DINA. Sarin gas leaves no trace and victims' deaths closely mimic...

    , it indicated that it was used to assassinate the state archives custodian Renato León Zenteno and the Army Corporal Manuel Leyton.
  • 1980–1988: Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

     used sarin against Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     during the 1980–88 war. During the 1990–91 Gulf War
    Gulf War
    The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

    , Iraq still had large stockpiles available which were found as coalition forces advanced north.
  • 1988: Over the span of two days in March, the ethnic Kurd
    Kürd
    Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

     city of Halabja
    Halabja
    Halabja , is a Kurdish town in Northern Iraq, located about north-east of Baghdad and 8–10 miles from the Iranian border....

     in northern Iraq (population 70,000) was bombarded with chemical and cluster bombs, which included sarin, in the Halabja poison gas attack
    Halabja poison gas attack
    The Halabja poison gas attack , also known as Halabja massacre or Bloody Friday, was a genocidal massacre against the Kurdish people that took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, when chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi government forces in the Kurdish town of...

    . An estimated 5,000 people died.
  • 1991: UN Resolution 687 established the term "weapon of mass destruction" and called for the immediate destruction of chemical weapons in Iraq, and eventual destruction of all chemical weapons globally.
  • 1993: The United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention
    Chemical Weapons Convention
    The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

     was signed by 162 member countries, banning the production and stockpiling of many chemical weapons, including sarin. It went into effect on 29 April 1997, and called for the complete destruction of all specified stockpiles of chemical weapons by April 2007.
  • 1994: The Japanese religious sect Aum Shinrikyo
    Aum Shinrikyo
    Aum Shinrikyo was a Japanese new religious movement. The group was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. The group gained international notoriety in 1995, when it carried out the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway....

     released an impure form of sarin in Matsumoto, Nagano
    Matsumoto, Nagano
    is a city located in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Matsumoto is designated as a Special City.-Outline:The new city of Matsumoto is the city comprising the mergers of the old city of Matsumoto and four villages. Matsumoto officially absorbed those villages without creating a new municipal...

    . (see Matsumoto incident
    Matsumoto incident
    The Matsumoto incident was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by members of Aum Shinrikyo in Matsumoto, Japan, in Nagano prefecture, on the evening of June 27 and the morning of June 28, 1994....

    )
  • 1995: Aum Shinrikyo
    Aum Shinrikyo
    Aum Shinrikyo was a Japanese new religious movement. The group was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. The group gained international notoriety in 1995, when it carried out the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway....

     sect released an impure form of sarin in the Tokyo Metro
    Tokyo Metro
    is one of two rapid transit systems making up the Tokyo subway system, the other being Toei. It is the most used subway system in the world in terms of annual passenger rides.-Organization:...

    . Thirteen people died. (see Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway
    Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway
    The Sarin attack on the Tokyo subway, usually referred to in the Japanese media as the , was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by members of Aum Shinrikyo on March 20, 1995....

    )
  • 1998: In the US, Time Magazine and CNN
    CNN
    Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

     ran news stories alleging that in 1970 U.S. Air Force A-1E Skyraiders
    A-1 Skyraider
    The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter...

     engaged in a covert operation called Operation Tailwind
    Operation Tailwind
    Operation Tailwind was a covert incursion into southeastern Laos during the Vietnam War, conducted between 11 September and 13 September 1970. The purpose of the operation was to create a diversion for a Royal Lao Army offensive and to exert pressure on the occupation forces of the People's Army...

    , in which they deliberately dropped sarin-containing weapons on U.S. troops who had defected in Laos
    Laos
    Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

    . CNN and Time Magazine later retracted the stories and fired the producers responsible.
  • 2004: On May 14 Iraqi insurgency
    Iraqi insurgency
    The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

     fighters in Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    detonated a 155 mm shell containing several litres of binary precursors for sarin. The shell was designed to mix the chemicals as it spins during flight. The detonated shell released only a small amount of sarin gas, either because the explosion failed to mix the binary agents properly or because the chemicals inside the shell had degraded significantly with age. Two United States soldiers were treated after displaying the early symptoms of exposure to sarin.

External links

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