Third Chemical-Arms Shipment Leaves Syria

A ship docked at Italy's Gioia Tauro seaport, which is slated to host the transfer of warfare chemicals removed from Syria. The Syrian government on Monday turned over a third load of chemical-arms materials as part of an international disarmament operation.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Feb. 10, 2014, 6:55 a.m.

A trans­port ship on Monday re­moved a third chem­ic­al-arms cache from Syr­ia as part of a glob­al ef­fort to des­troy the rul­ing re­gime’s chem­ic­al ar­sen­al.

The ex­trac­tion of the chem­ic­als by a Nor­we­gi­an cargo ship took place days after the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil form­ally pressed Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment to ac­cel­er­ate trans­fers of its chem­ic­al-war­fare stocks onto for­eign freight­ers, which were ini­tially sched­uled to fin­ish re­mov­ing the bulk of the ma­ter­i­als by last week.

“A sig­ni­fic­ant ef­fort is needed to en­sure the chem­ic­als that still re­main in Syr­ia are re­moved — in ac­cord­ance with a con­crete sched­ule and without fur­ther delays,” Ah­met Üzüm­cü, dir­ect­or gen­er­al of the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons, said in pre­pared com­ments.

Less than 5 per­cent of Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al ar­sen­al re­portedly had been re­moved from the coun­try pri­or to Monday’s ship­ment. No de­tails on the size of the latest de­liv­ery are in­cluded in a state­ment re­leased on Monday by Üzüm­cü’s agency and the United Na­tions.

The or­gan­iz­a­tions con­firmed, though, that As­sad’s gov­ern­ment has pro­ceeded to des­troy “some chem­ic­al ma­ter­i­als” with­in Syr­i­an bor­ders. They did not spe­cify the type or quant­ity of chem­ic­al as­sets tar­geted for do­mest­ic elim­in­a­tion.

Dam­as­cus has at­temp­ted to jus­ti­fy delays in hand­ing over the dead­li­est por­tions of its chem­ic­al ar­sen­al by cit­ing com­plic­a­tions in mov­ing the ma­ter­i­als across the vi­ol­ence-racked na­tion, from in­land stor­age fa­cil­it­ies to the coun­try’s Latakia sea­port. However, the basis for that ar­gu­ment has faced poin­ted cri­ti­cism from in­ter­na­tion­al over­seers, who said As­sad’s gov­ern­ment holds the equip­ment it needs to en­sure the safety of over­land chem­ic­al ship­ments.

Rus­sia, a key ally of the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment, has backed the re­gime’s de­fense of its slow pro­gress in turn­ing over the chem­ic­al stocks. Last week, though, Mo­scow said Dam­as­cus in­ten­ded to hand over a sig­ni­fic­ant por­tion of the re­main­ing ma­ter­i­als by March 1.

U.N. Sec­ret­ary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon last week joined Rus­si­an dip­lo­mats in of­fer­ing as­sur­ances that an end-of-June dead­line is still with­in reach for the stock­pile’s full de­struc­tion. The in­ter­na­tion­al push to rid Dam­as­cus of its chem­ic­al ar­sen­al began weeks after a re­lease of sar­in nerve agent took place last Au­gust in a Dam­as­cus sub­urb, al­legedly killing more than 1,400 people. As­sad’s gov­ern­ment denied re­spons­ib­il­ity for the strike, but it ad­mit­ted pos­sess­ing chem­ic­al arms and agreed to co­oper­ate in their elim­in­a­tion.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×