Military and terrorist attacks or accidental explosions on chemical weapons storage sites such as research centers, ammunition depots, and factories can explosively release large quantities of lethal chemical agents which can affect not only the vicinity of ground zero but also inhabited and cultivated areas at large distances. The simulations carried out in this work focus on the Sarin warfare agent while the explosive agent releases are assumed to occur at night (usually preferred by the attackers for obvious reasons). The exposed population downwind is assumed to be unprotected, in an open area (e.g. in the streets), without any warning and thus receptors can remain immersed in the Sarin cloud for considerable time (at least ten minutes) before any protective action is taken (evacuation, finding shelter, receiving medical care etc.). The results indicate that the effects of military, terrorist and accidental explosions on Sarin storage areas could be devastating at large distances from ground zero as they would practically amount to gigantic lethal chemical weapon explosions. The models of this work are implemented on a case study, namely the April 14, 2018 military strikes on the alleged Syrian chemical weapons sites due to its high relevance and similarity to the Sarin releases occurred in the US demolition operations at the Khamisiyah Pit in Iraq (1991) believed to have been a possible source of the “Gulf War Syndrome”. According to this case study if Sarin agent was indeed stored in the alleged Syrian chemical weapons sites then various populated areas around ground zero would have experienced lethal or life-threatening effects, irreversible or other serious long-lasting adverse health effects or at least notable discomfort. Moreover, if the Khamisiyah Pit Sarin ammunitions demolition operation was indeed the source of the “Gulf War Syndrome” then the incontrovertible multiple uses of Sarin against the Syrian population (possibly aggravated by the April 14, 2018 attacks) might give rise to a similar “Syrian War Syndrome” which is likely to appear in the future. Forensically, if after the bombardment of the alleged Sarin storage sites in Syria there are no symptoms of exposure to Sarin in populated areas close to ground zero (predicted and mapped by the postulated scenaria of the present work) then that may be a strong indication that the attacks were probably unjustified and unfair.

A preprint of this paper was published in the Cornell University Library and now you can download the final version from the homepage of the Arms Control Journal or you can read it here

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