Syria Hands Over More Chemicals as Disarmament Push Gains Steam

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government hold a rally in Damascus on Sunday. The regime on Thursday surrendered its third batch of chemical weapons in less than a week, according to an international watchdog agency.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
Diane Barnes
March 20, 2014, 10:33 a.m.

Syr­i­an au­thor­it­ies on Thursday gave up a third batch of war­fare chem­ic­als in un­der a week, ap­par­ently ac­cel­er­at­ing moves to­ward re­lin­quish­ing their stock­pile.

The latest de­liv­ery boos­ted the quant­ity of sub­stances sur­rendered by Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s re­gime to al­most half of its de­clared chem­ic­al ar­sen­al, ac­cord­ing to the Or­gan­iz­a­tion of the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons. Dan­ish and Nor­we­gi­an trans­port ships are re­mov­ing the ma­ter­i­als from the war-stricken coun­try in a dis­arm­a­ment ef­fort launched after a large-scale sar­in gas at­tack just out­side of Dam­as­cus in Au­gust.

“When all of the Syr­i­an chem­ic­als from all stor­age sites have been loaded aboard the Dan­ish and Nor­we­gi­an cargo ships, they will be trans­por­ted to vari­ous loc­a­tions for de­struc­tion un­der the veri­fic­a­tion of OP­CW in­spect­ors,” the in­ter­na­tion­al watch­dog agency said in a state­ment. The or­gan­iz­a­tion ad­ded that its per­son­nel in Syr­ia are sup­port­ing pre­par­a­tions to elim­in­ate sev­er­al chem­ic­al-arms man­u­fac­tur­ing sites.

Thursday’s chem­ic­al-arms ship­ment fol­lowed a Wed­nes­day OP­CW an­nounce­ment that two pri­or de­liv­er­ies — one on Fri­day and an­oth­er on Monday — had left Syr­ia through the coun­try’s Latakia sea­port. Taken to­geth­er, the trans­fers ap­peared to re­flect an in­crease in the pace of re­mov­al as pre­dicted late last month by Sigrid Kaag, the spe­cial co­ordin­at­or of a U.N.-OP­CW mis­sion over­see­ing the dis­arm­a­ment pro­cess.

Dam­as­cus ini­tially was sched­uled to fin­ish send­ing its weapons agents over­seas by early Feb­ru­ary, lay­ing the ground­work for full de­struc­tion of the sub­stances by the end of June. However, in­ter­na­tion­al plan­ners ex­ten­ded the re­mov­al timeline in­to April after the re­gime missed pri­or tar­gets.

As­sad’s gov­ern­ment blamed delays on op­pos­i­tion threats to the ma­ter­i­als dur­ing trans­port to the Latakia pickup point. However, U.N. Sec­ret­ary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon de­term­ined that Dam­as­cus was equipped to move faster, and the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil last month form­ally urged the re­gime to boost the ef­fort’s speed. The delays re­portedly also promp­ted Wash­ing­ton to re­vis­it op­tions to act against the gov­ern­ment in Syr­ia’s civil war, which is now en­ter­ing its fourth year.

The latest ship­ment — the re­gime’s el­ev­enth since Janu­ary — means that As­sad has sur­rendered 49.3 per­cent of his chem­ic­al-war­fare ma­ter­i­als to date, ac­cord­ing to OP­CW fig­ures. That amount in­cludes 34.8 per­cent of the “Pri­or­ity 1” sub­stances deemed to be his dead­li­est chem­ic­al as­sets, as well as 82.6 per­cent of his lower-grade stocks.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, Ger­many on Wed­nes­day said it is in­vest­ig­at­ing wheth­er com­pan­ies with­in its bor­ders il­leg­ally equipped Syr­ia in the 1980s and 1990s with ma­ter­i­als cap­able of sup­port­ing chem­ic­al-arms pro­duc­tion, Re­u­ters re­por­ted. Ger­man busi­nesses might have sup­plied Syr­ia with mech­an­ic­al equip­ment, con­trol sys­tems and sul­fur­ic acid suit­able for man­u­fac­tur­ing sar­in nerve agent, ac­cord­ing to a Wed­nes­day news re­port by Sued­deutsche Zei­tung.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login