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 »
"Four Iranian ships made reckless maneuvers close to a U.S. warship this week, the Pentagon said Thursday, in an incident that officials said could have led to dangerous escalation." The four Iranian vessels engaged in a "high-speed intercept" of a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz. A Navy spokesman said the Iranina actions "created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures" by the destroyer.
Amid public outcry and the threat of investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mylan has agreed to effectively drop the price of EpiPens. "The company, which did not lower the drug's list price, said it would reduce the patient cost of EpiPen through the use of a savings card, which will cover up to $300 of EpiPen 2-Pak."
Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit effort in the United Kingdom, appeared at a Trump rally in Mississippi yesterday. Farage told the 15,000-strong crowd: "Remember, anything is possible if enough decent people are prepared to stand up against the establishment."
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.