Skunk bomb? Israel takes chemical warfare to a stinky new level

The use of chemical warfare is a tactic that is deplored all over the world. Unfortunately though, nations continue to maintain and use chemical weapons and devices. But not all chemical deterrents are lethal–or even dangerous. Israel has recently developed a chemical bomb for crowd control and dispersing rioters that some are referring to as the “skunk bomb”. The skunk bomb is touted as the smelliest weapon in the world, and has been developed as an alternative to using rubber bullets or tear gas for crowd control. Wired.com reports that the new chemical device emits an overpowering smell that is similar to raw sewage.

To add insult to injury, the intense smell of the skunk bomb attaches quickly to the skin and clothes and is very difficult to wash out. The stench is described as so intense, that even hardened activist and protesters who can withstand tear gas, usually turn and run after just one sniff.

The horrible smell of the skunk bomb bones is caused by a particularly foul smelling chemical. It is in fact an artificial recreation of the fluid emitted by skunks to scare off predators. Scientist from the Israeli Ministry of Defense analyzed the chemical compound skunks release when threatened, and used reverse engineering to create a synthetic version of the liquid.

The resulting chemical bomb has to be handled with care, and used at a safe distance to prevent back draft. The goal of the skunk bomb is to disperse protesters or rioters, though once they have been sprayed with a smelly liquid, police or military officials would likely be unable to arrest them because of the intense stench.

The US Army has also shown great interest in using non-lethal deterrents, and may soon develop a skunk bomb of their own. The US already uses non-lethal artillery rounds that are filled with a malodorous top-secret liquid. The US military claims that the chemical poses no threat to protesters, and is a reliable deterrent which can be used in many cases of civilian unrest.

In fact, countries all over the world are expanding the development of non-lethal weapons, particularly to control riots and unruly protesters. While in many ways this is a positive turn of events (at least no one is getting killed simply because they are a protester), some activists believe that it is inhumane to expose an individual to the intensely foul-smelling chemicals, which can linger for days or even weeks afterwards.