Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

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© 2018 Caroline C Peck


This paper examines the possible future of chemical weapons through an exploration of the origins and history of legal proscriptions on their use and the practical utility of their procurement and use. Past public misunderstanding of the extent of the chemical weapons threat, exacerbated by propaganda, as well as fears of retaliatory use motivated efforts to ban the use of chemical weapons. These prohibitions have had and continue to have weaknesses and loopholes that prevent their intentions from being fully realized. While chemical agents have a wide variety of applications and have several unique advantages, including psychological effects on victims, their use is limited by several drawbacks. The accessibility of some agents is also limited for actors who are not major powers. Recent developments in chemical weapons use, especially their use in the Syrian civil war, inform present understanding of international resolve to prevent chemical weapons use and the continued advantages chemical weapons provide. These findings provide a framework to understand future opportunities for actors to produce chemical weapons and the likelihood that these actors will actually use chemical weapons.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.