Syria’s Last Chemical Cache Locked in Place by Fighting

Global Security Newswire Staff
May 9, 2014, 9:31 a.m.

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 »
Clinton Campaign Also Hacked
59 minutes ago
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
1 hours ago

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.

North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down
4 hours ago

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."

Massive Oil Pipeline Approved for the Midwest
5 hours ago

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."

GDP Grew at 1.2% in Q2
6 hours ago

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."