Explained: What are WMDs, the existing law on which India now wants to amend?

What is the News?

The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022 has been unanimously passed in Lok Sabha.

Click Here to read about the Bill

What are Weapons of Mass Destruction(WMD)?

Origin of the word: The expression WMD is usually considered to have been used first by the leader of the Church of England in 1937. He used to refer to the aerial bombing of civilians in the Basque town of Guernica by German and Italian fascists in support of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

Definition: There is no single, authoritative definition of a WMD in international law. The expression is usually understood to cover nuclear, biological, and chemical(NBC) weapons.

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, A weapon of mass destruction is a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or other devices that are intended to harm a large number of people”.

India’s WMD Act 2005

The act defines,

Biological weapons: These are microbial or other biological agents or toxins and are in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; These are specially designed to use as agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

Chemical weapons: These are toxic chemicals developed as munitions to cause death or other harm through their toxic properties of those chemicals. However, this does not include those toxic chemicals developed for peaceful, protective and certain specified military and law enforcement purposes.

Control over WMDs

The use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons is regulated by a number of international treaties and agreements.

Geneva Protocol, 1925: It banned the use of chemical and biological weapons.

Biological Weapons Convention, 1972, and Chemical Weapons Convention, 1992: It has put comprehensive bans on biological and chemical weapons respectively.

India has signed and ratified both the 1972 and 1992 treaties. There are very few non-signatory countries to these treaties, even though several countries have been accused of non-compliance.

The use and proliferation of nuclear weapons are regulated by treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: What are WMDs, the existing law on which India now wants to amend?published in Indian Express on 7th April 2022.

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