On this page, we take a look at some of the most salient events related to field of chemical weapons for the year 2018, identified through a text mining analysis of the Twitter discourse.

Days of peak tweeting activity.The bar graph below shows the number of tweets related to chemical weapons collected daily during the course of 2018 – you can see the query that we use for the collection here. On average, we retrieved 5027 tweets per day. Peak days, defined as those days in which the number of collected tweets was at least 25% higher than the average, are marked in the graph.

The Twitter discourse: text mining and text analysis graphics.After the bar graph, we provide a text mining analysis of the twitter discourse that took place during peak days. For each peak, we provide a set of text analysis graphics, comprising a word cloud, a network of frequent words, and a list of frequent topics – you can find more information on the methodology and the meaning of these analyses here.

The Twitter discourse: salient events. For each peak, we also provide a selection of salient events discussed in the collected tweets. These were identified by searching on Google and Twitter selected clusters of keywords that stood out from the text mining analysis – see an example here. The searches were confined to the peak dates. The keywords as well as links to the Google and Twitter searches are also provided.

Caveat. As the selection of salient events is somewhat subjective, we encourage our readers to examine carefully the text analysis graphics, gather keywords, and conduct independent Google and Twitter searches to identify additional relevant events and topics. 

Tweets on chemical weapons collected daily by the Costanzi Report

Peak 1: January 23-24, 2018
Twitter Discourse: text analysis graphics

  • January 23, Syria: an alleged attack with chlorine gas in Eastern Ghouta is reported. Keywords: chemical, Syria, Russia, attacks, new. Google Twitter
  • The International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons is launched on January 23 in Paris. Keywords: chemical, weapons, use. Google Twitter
  • A truck carrying over 30,000 liters of a chemical that can be used to make explosives is stolen in Belgium. Keywords: chemical, Belgium, stolen, bomb. Google Twitter

Peak 2: Februry 5-6, 2018
Twitter Discourse: text analysis graphics

  • February 4, Syria: an attack with chlorine gas in Saraqib, in the Idlib region, is reported. The Fact Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will later confirmed that “chlorine, released from cylinders through mechanical impact, was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018.” Based in the Hague, the OPCW is the international organization tasked with the implementation of the Chemical Weapons convention. Keywords: chemical, Syria, attacks, civilians. Google Twitter

Peak 3: February 14, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • Macron states that France is poised to strike Syria if chemical attacks are confirmed. Keywords: Chemical, Syria, France, will, strike. Google Twitter

Peak 4: February 26 – March 1, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • February 25, Syria: an alleged attack with chlorine gas in Eastern Ghouta is reported. Keywords: chemical, Syria, attack, including. Google Twitter
  • A leaked U.N. report indicates ties between North Korea and Syria’s chemical weapons program. Keywords: chemical, weapons, Syria, North Korea. Google Twitter

Peak 5: March 9, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • March 4, United Kingdom: a chemical warfare agent was used for the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK, on March 4. Military personnel is deployed to the scene. Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and Wiltshire Police Det. Sgt. Nick Bailey are hospitalized at the Salisbury hospital. They will all recover from the poisoning. Keywords: chemical, military, warfare, salisbury. Google Twitter

Peak 6: March 12 – March 22, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • The chemical warfare agent used in the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal is a Novichok agent, a type of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Keywords: chemical, weapon, United Kingdom, attack. Google Tweets
  • The international community watches closely the situation in Syria. Macron reiterates that France will strike Syria if chemical weapons are used. The U.N. condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Keywords: chemical, weapons, Syria. Google Twitter

Peak 7: April 3-4, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down confirms that the substance used for the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal was a Novichok agent. Keywords: chemical, weapon, Novichok, Porton. Google Twitter
  • The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) holds an extraordinary meeting called by Russia. At the meeting, Russia loses a vote on a proposal for a new joint investigation into the Skripal case with Russian participation. Keywords: chemical, weapons, attack, Putin. Google Twitter

Peak 8: April 7-30, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • April 7, Syria: an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma is reported. The Fact Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will later confirm the detection of chlorinated organic chemicals at the sites of the incident. Keywords: chemical, weapons, attack, Syria. Google Twitter
  • On April 14, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France strike targets reportedly related to Syria’s chemical weapons program. Keywords: chemical, United Kingdom, United States. Google Twitter

Peak 9: July 9-10, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess get accidentally exposed to Novichok agent in Amesbury, a few miles away from Salisbury. The contamination occurs after the couple handles a perfume bottle containing the deadly substance earlier found by Rowley. On July 9, Sturgess dies at the Salisbury hospital. Rowley will be released from the hospital on July 20. Keywords: Chemical, attack, British, Remembered. Google Twitter
  • On July 6, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) releases an interim report of the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack occurred in Douma, Syria, on April 7. No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected. However, chlorinated organic chemicals were detected at the sites of the incident. Keywords: chemical, weapons, OPCW, attack. Google Twitter

Peak 10: July 31 – August 1, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • This peak of tweeting activity is not related to chemical weapons. Most of the tweeting activity that we collected originates from a tweet where Actor James Woods states that there is a war on boys in America. Keywords: chemical, ritalin, mythology, America. Google Twitter

Peak 11: August 8, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • The United States imposes new sanctions on Russia for the use of a Novichok agent in the United Kingdom. Keywords: weapons, chemical, sanctions, Russia. Google Twitter

Peak 12: August 25-27, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • Russia’s Ministry of Defense says that “foreign specialists” have arrived in Syria and may stage a chemical attack using chlorine. Keywords: chemical, mod, attack, Russian. Google Twitter

Peak 13: September 4-13, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • Syria: a military offensive of the Syrian government appears to be impending in Idlib, the last major area of the country under rebel control. Civilians brace for a chemical weapons attack and prepare makeshift gas masks using paper cups filled with cotton and charcoal. Keywords: chemical, charcoal, cotton, masks, Syrian. Google Twitter
  • The United States warns the Syrian government that there will be a response if chemical weapons are used. Keywords: chemical, attack, United States, Syria. Google Twitter

Peak 14: October 4, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics

  • Dutch authorities say that they disrupted a Russian attempt to launch a cyber attack against the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Russian government refutes the allegations. Keywords: chemical, watchdog, weapons, Dutch, Russia. Google Twitter

Peak 15: November 25-28, 2018
Twitter discourse: text analysis graphics 

  • On November 25, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents deploy non-lethal tear gas to disperse migrants at the southern border. Riot control agents, although banned in warfare, are allowed for law enforcement purposes under the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Keywords: chemical, gas, tear, warfare. Google Twitter
  • The Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention takes place in the Hague on November 21-30, preceded by the Twenty-third Session of the Conference of the State Parties on November 19-20. Keywords: chemical, weapons, convention. Google Twitter
  • November 25, Syria: an alleged attack with chlorine gas is reported in Aleppo. The Syrian government accuses rebels for the attack and asks the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) for an investigation. Keywords: chemical, attack, Aleppo. Google Twitter