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From tsp@sunshine-project.org Tue Jul 3 16:51:51 2001
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 23:05:00 -0500 (CDT)
From: The Sunshine Project <tsp@sunshine-project.org>
Subject: Sunshine: Non-Lethal Weapons: Calmatives and Malodorants
Organization: The Sunshine Project
Article: 122165
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Online at: http://www.sunshine-project.org

Non-Lethal Weapons Research in the US: Calmatives and Malodorants

Backgrounder Series #8, Introduction, July 2001

This paper is the first in a series of three reports on United States government research on chemical and biological non-lethal weapons. Shaken by experiences such as its disastrous mission in Somalia, the US has concluded that it lacks appropriate weapons for peacekeeping and other military operations other than war. To address this problem, the US has embarked on a program to develop new non-lethal weapons to control both armed enemies and civilians. Militaries and domestic law enforcement agencies in the United States and elsewhere are closely following this research and, in some instances, participating. The non-lethal weapons research detailed here raises questions about protection of civil liberties, particularly freedoms of thought and expression, and US compliance with arms control agreements including the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The second and third reports in this series will be published over the course of 2001 and will address genetically modified anti-materiel agents and new riot control technologies, respectively.


This paper details research on two types of non-lethal weapons in the United States that threaten and could undermine important international arms control agreements and basic personal freedoms of thought and expression. Calmative and malodorant agents and their delivery systems are designed for use against armed enemies, riots, and potentially hostile civilians.

Calmative agents include an array of psychoactive substances whose effects range from inducing sleep to overpowering hallucinations. In the past, use of calmatives has been understood to violate the Chemical Weapons Convention; but new and dangerous interpretations of this agreement by US military strategists threaten to open the way for use of calmatives by armed forces or even police, especially in non-traditional conflicts such as peacekeeping. The United States Marine Corps and Army are researching delivery technology for calmatives and using computer models of calmative agents' effects in offensive wargames.

Malodorant agents (stink bombs) have existed since the Second World War. Attempts were made as late as 1966 to develop malodorants that target particular ethnic groups. Disastrous military experiences such as that in Somalia and renewed interest from law enforcement has sparked a renaissance of interest in malodorants for use in riot control and, possibly, war. Use of malodorant agents, particularly by militaries, could promote use of chemical weapons in conflict and destabilize controls on both chemical and biological weapons.