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 »
STARTS LEGAL FUND FOR WH STAFF
Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
14 hours ago
THE DETAILS
DISCUSSED THE MATTER FOR A NEW BOOK
Steele Says Follow the Money
15 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

"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."

Source:
BRITISH PUBLICIST CONNECTED TO TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Goldstone Ready to Meet with Mueller’s Team
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

"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."

Source:
SPEAKING ON RUSSIAN STATE TV
Kislyak Says Trump Campaign Contacts Too Numerous to List
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

"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."

Source:
“BLOWING A SURE THING”
Sabato Moves Alabama to “Lean Democrat”
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE
×
×

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