Phosphorus Shell – UPSC Prelims

Phosphorus shell:
  • It’s a colourless or yellowish translucent wax-like substance with a garlic-like odour that ignites when exposed to oxygen.
  • Its fire is difficult to put out, and it adheres to flesh, intensifying the burns.
  • It’s what the Nazis referred to as a “flaming onion.”
  • White phosphorus shells are prohibited in densely populated civilian areas under international law.
  • But they are permitted in open places to provide cover for troops.
  • Why in news? Ukraine has accused Russian forces of launching phosphorus bomb attacks.
International Law to Ban Phosphorus shell:
  • White phosphorus is classified as an incendiary weapon under international law.
  • It is defined as “any weapon or ammunition that is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or a combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target” by Protocol III of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons.
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