Why is Chemical Warfare a Taboo? w/ Dan Kaszeta

15 Feb 2024 – 19:00 - 20:00 GMT
Gladstone's Library
Church Lane

In this evening talk Dan will offer a short history of chemical weaponry, engaging with the audience on their knowledge and thoughts, exploring together why such weapons have come to be banned.

As the author of a book titled Toxic, Dan Kaszeta is used to people asking him for his thoughts on chemical weapons. As he says, ‘I have learned that most people think such weapons are bad, but that they don’t really know why’.

Dan Kaszeta is a lifelong specialist in defence against chemical, biological, and radiological threats, with significant experience in broader defence subjects. Starting his career with active service in the US Army Chemical Corps, went on to work at the US Department of Defense and the White House Military office, before relocating to the UK.

In recent years Dan has become a widely-quoted authority on public affairs related to war crimes, particularly the misuse of chemical weapons. He contributes to the open-source intelligence site Bellingcat and is often quoted across other media. Dan’s recent books include Toxic (2020) and Forest Brotherhood(2023).

If Dan’s name is familiar to you, but perhaps you don’t know why, it’s likely because you’ve heard about him on TV, radio and news: he recently received an apology from the government after being mysteriously disinvited from speaking to a Ministry of Defence conference.  

About the book

A dark and chilling story of the invention, proliferation and use of nerve agents.

Nerve agents are the world’s deadliest means of chemical warfare. Nazi Germany developed the first military-grade nerve agents and massive industry for their manufacture—yet, strangely, the Third Reich never used them. At the end of the Second World War, the Allies were stunned to discover this advanced and extensive programme. The Soviets and Western powers embarked on a new arms race, amassing huge chemical arsenals.

From their Nazi invention to the 2018 Novichok attack in Britain, Dan Kaszeta uncovers nerve agents’ gradual spread across the world, despite international arms control efforts. They’ve been deployed in the Iran–Iraq War, by terrorists in Japan, in the Syrian Civil War, and by assassins in Malaysia and Salisbury—always with bitter consequences.

Toxic recounts the grisly history of these weapons of mass destruction: a deadly suite of invisible, odourless killers.

About the author

Dan Kaszeta is a specialist defence and security consultant of Lithuanian ancestry, who has long studied Baltic history. An associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and the author of Toxic (also published by Hurst), he has held positions in the US Secret Service and White House Military Office.

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