Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Moments of Innovation

Sarin - the crude but deadly nerve agent used in Syria

Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 - 02:25

Sept. 17 - U.N. chemical investigators have confirmed the use of sarin nerve agent in an August 21 poison gas attack outside the Syrian capital, an attack the US says killed more than 1400 people including 400 children. Created by accident in the 1930s by German scientists producing pesticides, the deadly nerve agent has been used as a weapon at least three times in the last 25 years. Jim Drury reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

PLEASE NOTE: +++CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF DEAD BODIES AND PEOPLE SAID TO BE SUFFERING AFTER A GAS ATTACK+++ *REUTERS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT OF THE VIDEO IN THIS EDIT SAID TO BE SHOT IN SYRIA* Most of those who died in the August 21st attack on Damascus, died through asphyxiation. When ingested, the nerve agent causes the respiratory system to shut down. According to chemical weapons expert Dan Kaszeta, sarin is odourless and colourless but extremely lethal, killing its victims within minutes. SOUNDBITE (English) DAN KASZETA, CHEMICAL WEAPONS EXPERT, SAYING: "Symptoms generally proceed through headache, nausea, vomiting, tearing, lots of secretions - saliva, mucous, loss of your bowel and urinary control, leading eventually to convulsions. Generally the mechanism of death is asphyxiation." Invented accidentally by German scientists in the 1930s, sarin contains hydrogen fluoride and can be produced through various chemical pathways. It's made in liquid form, but the process is dangerous and requires expertise, which is why many believe August's attacks in the Syrian capital must have been state-sponsored. Former US weapons inspector Charles Duelfer says if not destroyed, the agent can be stored indefinitely. SOUNDBITE (English) CHARLES DUELFER, FORMER U.S. WEAPONS INSPECTOR FOR IRAQ, SAYING: "Some sarins are like Wonderbread, you can put it on the shelf and it can last forever. " Yet once released, it evaporates quickly. SOUNDBITE (English) DAN KASZETA, CHEMICAL WEAPONS EXPERT, SAYING: "In a relatively cool room, in a live nerve agent training facility in Alabama I watched, I physically stood there and watched a droplet of sarin evaporate in a matter of minutes. Some of the other nerve agents, things like VX or Soman, can last days or weeks because they are thick and oily substances with very low vapour pressures, whereas sarin was designed to be a non persistent rapid casualty producing agent." Sarin was among nerve agents used in 1988 by Saddam Hussein's forces in an attack on Iraq's Kurdish city of Halabja. 5,000 Kurds died and more than 7,000 were injured. It was also used by Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo in their Tokyo subway attack in 1995, which killed 13. Now, a Russian-brokered deal to destroy Syria's chemical arms is designed to avert a relatiatory attack on the Syrian regime by the United States. But finding, then safely dismantling the chemical stockpile presents its own challenges and offer no guarantees that sarin won't be used again in Syria or elsewhere.

Sarin - the crude but deadly nerve agent used in Syria

Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 - 02:25

Top News »

Investing 201 »

Arian Foster = BlackBerry? Arian Foster = BlackBerry?

Fri, Oct 25, 2013 - (3:16)

Don’t miss these red flags for IPOs Don’t miss these red flags for IPOs

Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - (2:34)

Copycat currency trading Copycat currency trading

Wed, Oct 02, 2013 - (2:28)

When to dump a winner When to dump a winner

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - (1:55)

Where gold might again attract Jim Rogers Where gold might again attract Jim Rogers

Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - (2:05)

Why savings interest rates won't budge Why savings interest rates won't budge

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - (2:09)

Buy local? ETFs try the trend Buy local? ETFs try the trend

Thu, Sep 05, 2013 - (2:42)

The better bond funds The better bond funds

Wed, Aug 07, 2013 - (2:40)

Best bargain in 40 years? European stocks Best bargain in 40 years? European stocks

Thu, Aug 01, 2013 - (2:24)

Invest like an activist Invest like an activist

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - (2:49)

Money Clip »

3 things to do before disaster strikes 3 things to do before disaster strikes

Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - (1:39)

Your must-do money list Your must-do money list

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - (1:24)

The worst "best" financial advice The worst "best" financial advice

Wed, Sep 04, 2013 - (1:42)

Forget gold: The case for REITs Forget gold: The case for REITs

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - (1:19)

3 rules for buying a house now 3 rules for buying a house now

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - (1:39)

“Stalking” your dream home - Money Clip “Stalking” your dream home - Money Clip

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - (2:50)

3 hidden tax deductions - Money Clip 3 hidden tax deductions - Money Clip

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - (1:33)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, Sep 05, 2014 - (2:05)

Images of August Images of August

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (1:00)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)