RUSI was pleased to host Dan Kaszeta for a conversation around his latest book Toxic, A History of Nerve Agents, From Nazi Germany to Putin’s Russia.
Kaszeta was joined by Dr. Caitriona McLeish for an interactive discussion on the book, and explore what this historical review can teach us about managing chemical weapons risks today.
Toxic is 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.
Dan Kaszeta has decades of experience in protecting against chemical and biological weapons, and has held positions in the US Army, the White House Military Office, the US Secret Service and private industry. He is currently Managing Director of consultancy firm Strongpoint Security.
Dr. Caitríona McLeish is a Senior Fellow at SPRU at the University of Sussex and co-director of the Harvard Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons.