Experts: Public Needs More Details on Syria Chemical Destruction

Students in Gioia Tauro in January protest plans to transfer Syrian chemical-warfare materials between ships at the Italian port city. Arms control experts on Monday urged the Obama administration to release additional data on plans to destroy Syrian chemical-weapons stocks in the Mediterranean Sea.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
Diane Barnes
Feb. 4, 2014, 7:57 a.m.

Arms con­trol ex­perts pressed the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on Monday to re­lease troves of data on plans to des­troy Syr­ia’s dead­li­est chem­ic­al arms at sea.

Fail­ure to do so could lead to new polit­ic­al obstacles for the ef­fort to des­troy Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment’s “pri­or­ity” chem­ic­al stocks on­board a spe­cially equipped ship in the Medi­ter­ranean Sea, 11 U.S. and European spe­cial­ists warned in a let­ter to Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel.

“There are already clear signs of dis­con­tent and anxi­ety [about the plan] com­ing from Italy, Greece, Tur­key and Cyprus,” the au­thors said. “Such op­pos­i­tion could clearly delay or pre­vent the timely and im­port­ant mis­sion to safely elim­in­ate Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons stock­pile in 2014.”

The U.S. ves­sel MV Cape Ray is ex­pec­ted to neut­ral­ize more than 500 met­ric tons of war­fare chem­ic­als after pick­ing them up from the south­ern Itali­an port of Gioia Tauro. That is after Dan­ish and Nor­we­gi­an cargo ships, un­der in­ter­na­tion­al mil­it­ary es­cort, trans­port the sens­it­ive ma­ter­i­als to Italy from the Syr­i­an port at Latakia.

The ex­perts voiced sup­port for the strategy, and said de­struc­tion equip­ment on the Cape Ray would “min­im­ize any po­ten­tial risks to pub­lic health and the en­vir­on­ment.” They ar­gued, though, that a dir­ec­ted com­mu­nic­a­tion strategy is ne­ces­sary “for the pub­lic to be re­as­sured.”

Dur­ing the de­struc­tion pro­cess, U.S. per­son­nel “should provide daily up­dates, in­clud­ing any mon­it­or­ing data of air and wa­ter, via a ded­ic­ated web­site,” the ex­perts said. “In ad­di­tion, live, 24-hour web­cams on­board the ship should be con­sidered as a con­fid­ence-build­ing meas­ure.”

The ex­perts also re­com­men­ded con­ven­ing pan­el dis­cus­sions in Medi­ter­ranean na­tions to ad­dress the “tech­nic­al pro­cesses” of the de­struc­tion pro­ject, as well as its “po­ten­tial risks and be­ne­fits.” They called for such events to in­clude both gov­ern­ment rep­res­ent­at­ives and in­de­pend­ent ex­perts.

The au­thors ad­ded, though, that the “the most ur­gent is­sue today is to make sure that all rel­ev­ant chem­ic­als from the Syr­i­an stock­piles are speedily de­livered to the port of Latakia and loaded onto … Nor­we­gi­an and Dan­ish ships.” The trans­port­a­tion of chem­ic­als from across the war-battered na­tion has pro­gressed slowly, prompt­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al con­tro­versy over wheth­er the As­sad’s gov­ern­ment is de­lib­er­ately delay­ing the pro­cess.

The let­ter’s sign­ers in­clude former Rus­si­an Am­bas­sad­or Serguei Bat­san­ov, as well as chem­ic­al-weapons ex­perts Paul Walk­er, Ralf Trapp and Jean Pas­cal Zanders. Elio Pa­cilio, pres­id­ent of Green Cross Italy, joined onto the let­ter; and Daryl Kim­ball, who heads the Arms Con­trol As­so­ci­ation, and Shar­on Squas­soni, dir­ect­or of the Pro­lif­er­a­tion Pre­ven­tion Pro­gram at the Cen­ter for Stra­tegic and In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, are among the missive’s U.S. sign­ers.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP CONTINUES TO LAWYER UP
Kasowitz Out, John Dowd In
1 days ago
THE LATEST

As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."

Source:
ALSO INQUIRES ABOUT PARDON POWER
Trump Looking to Discredit Mueller
1 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.

Source:
INCLUDES NY PROBE INTO MANAFORT
Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
1 days ago
THE LATEST

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."

Source:
ANALYSIS FROM CBO
32 Million More Uninsured by 2026 if Obamacare Repealed
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."

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