A top investigator said Syria has surrendered the final chemical arms it admitted to holding, but any secret arsenal may allow gas attacks to continue.
“The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura,” said Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The final tanks of potentially lethal warfare substances reportedly had been locked in place by fighting around Damascus.
Monday’s development bookends a months-long international campaign to remove roughly 1,300 metric tons of chemical-warfare materials from the violence-racked Middle Eastern nation. President Bashar Assad’s government agreed to relinquish the stockpile last year, after nerve gas killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb and prompted threats of foreign intervention in Syria’s civil war.
“Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict,” Üzümcü said in a statement to reporters. “And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight timeframes.”
The disarmament effort encountered months of delays, though, and an international mandate to destroy the stockpile this month is now out of reach. Üzümcü last week said extending the deadline is out of the question, and the U.N. Security Council would consider how to respond, the Daily Sabah reported on Monday.
The chemical-arms watchdog chief added that his agency still has work to do in Syria. It remains unclear whether Assad’s regime may be hiding more warfare chemicals, and Üzümcü urged the government to continue supporting an investigation into possible strikes with undeclared toxic gas.
“We hope to conclude soon the clarification of certain aspects of the Syrian declaration and commence the destruction of certain structures that were used as chemical-weapons production facilities,” he added in his Monday announcement. Damascus denies it ever used chemical agents in combat, and blames opposition forces for any attacks with substances controlled under an international treaty it signed last year.
Meanwhile, a shipment of Syrian chemical-warfare stocks arrived in Finland on Saturday, Yle Uutiset reported. The stockpile’s deadliest portion is slated for delivery to the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro, where it would be moved onto a specially equipped U.S. vessel for destruction.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."