Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Update on non-lethal weapons. The technology sounds quite interesting, although the article also points out some counter-intuitive legal issues:
As valuable as these weapons might be to American troops, they may violate U.S. obligations under treaties forbidding the development of biological and chemical weapons. The antitraction gel, for instance, could conceivably be forbidden under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which put restrictions on chemicals that "can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans or animals"...

It wouldn't be the first time that those treaties prevented U.S. troops from using NLWs. The Chemical Weapons Convention, for instance, prohibits the use of riot-control agents "which can produce rapidly in humans sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within a short time following termination of exposure." This means that weapons like tear gas -- which domestic law enforcement personnel can use -- are forbidden to our troops. This has led to situations, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has noted, in which "our forces are allowed to shoot somebody and kill them, but they're not allowed to use a non-lethal riot-control agent."
(Via SciTechDaily.)