The U.S. House of Representatives is demanding a rundown of any chemical-warfare materials that Syria’s government may be trying to hide.
An intelligence authorization bill passed by the chamber on Friday would compel the Obama administration to send Congress an assessment of any “undeclared chemical-weapons stockpile, munitions and facilities” held by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. The national intelligence director’s report — required within 30 days of the legislation’s enactment — must also address the origin of any hidden agents, potential “gaps” in U.S. knowledge about the Syrian stockpile, and related “denial and deception” tactics by Damascus.
Assad’s regime has given other governments custody of all but roughly 7 percent of a 1,300-metric-ton chemical arsenal it acknowledged possessing last year. However, U.S. and other Western intelligence reportedly suggests that the regime remains capable of deploying chemical weapons, including materials it may have concealed from international inspectors.
Damascus has never admitted to tapping warfare chemicals in its 3-year-old war with opposition forces. The government pledged to relinquish its chemical stockpile, though, after sarin nerve agent last year killed hundreds of people in a rebel-controlled neighborhood and raised the prospect of an international military response.
The House-passed authorization bill calls for a “comprehensive assessment of chemical weapon stockpiles in Syria,” as well as “a listing of key personnel associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program.”
The legislation would require updated reports to be issued every 90 days over an 18-month period.
What We're Following See More »
"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."
"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."
"Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ... Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel."