Syria’s final declared batch of warfare chemical cannot be extracted for destruction at this point because of heavy fighting, a U.N. official has confirmed.
“There is a lot of fighting taking place,” Sigrid Kaag, the diplomat overseeing Syria’s chemical disarmament, was quoted as saying on Thursday by the New York Times. “It’s not a situation where you want a chemical weapons convoy passing through.”
At a briefing with reporters in New York, Kaag provided perhaps the most specific information to date about the final eight percent of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile that have yet to be removed from the country. Locked in place at an airfield east of Damascus are 100 tons of materials, packed into 16 containers, that could be used to make the deadly nerve agent sarin, the Associated Press reports.
Once officials can safely access the site, Kaag said it would take “less than a working week” to pack the materials and ship them to the port of Latakia, from which they could be taken for destruction to a U.S.-provided cargo ship modified for the mission.
While the materials were considered “safe and secure” at the regime-controlled airfield on Thursday, the rebel group threatening the site are “the more extreme kind,” the diplomat warned. “Global jihad has come to Syria.”
Kaag indicated that military action by the Syrian government was planned to push back the rebels.
“From their perspective, it is something that needs to happen because it is an important route, and it’s not far from Damascus,” she was quoted as saying by the AP.
Syria so far has removed roughly 92 percent of its declared chemical stocks, following a pledge to disarm last year in the wake of a sarin gas attack in a Damascus. The regime made the commitment because Western powers had considered a military strike.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has sent inspectors to the country to investigate allegations that Syrian government forces recently used munitions filled with chlorine gas in the civil war.
What We're Following See More »
Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.
The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."
An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."
The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."