|A Brief History of Nerve Agents.
During the early part of the nineteen thirties some German chemists observed that organo- phosphorus compounds could be poisonous. In 1936 a chemist by the name of Dr Gerhard Schrader finished the development of a pesticide. Due to the regulations of the time, the existance of this pesticide was notified to the military authorities who took a keen interest in it. And so the first of the substances to become known as nerve agents was born. It's name - Tabun.
During the latter half of the second world war over 10,000 tonnes of tabun was produced. In this time Schrader and his colleagues also developed many other organo-phosphorus compounds including the now infamous Sarin, and the third of the classic nerve agents, Soman.
Why Hitler never deployed these weapons against the allies during the war is the source of much controversy and speculation. The most popular theory being that, as Hitler was victimized by the toxic gases unleashed during the previous war, he was unwilling to allow even more dangerous substances to be used because of the threat of retaliation. Minister of Production Albert Speer said after the war, "All sensible army people turned gas warfare down as being utterly insane, since, in view of America's superiority in the air, it would not be long before it would bring the most terrible catastrophe upon German cities".
Famous contemporary incidents of the use of chemical warfare of this type are given by the use of Tabun by Iraq in the Iran - Iraq war (1984-1988) and the use of Sarin by the Aum Shinrikyo Cult on Tokyo comuters.
In these modern times development and production of nerve agents is banned in many countries though question marks still hang over the stockpiles produced during the mid part of this century.