Sanctions have been slapped on Russia over the Salisbury attack but atrocities are spiralling out of control elsewhere

Sweeping US sanctions imposed on Russia last week as punishment for the Salisbury nerve agent attack help maintain the comforting impression of an international community united in its determination to prevent the use of chemical weapons. Airstrikes by US, British and French forces on Syrian regime targets, following April’s chlorine gas atrocity in Douma, were intended to provide similar reassurance.

But far from being stamped out, the use of such weapons is in danger of being normalised 21 years after most of the world signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which banned their development, production, stockpiling and use. Experts suggest the threat comes not only from outlaw regimes like Syria’s but increasingly from “non-state actors”, such as Islamic State.

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Read More Banned 21 years ago, yet still the world stands by as chemical attacks go unchecked

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