Syria plans by Dec. 31 to expedite the transport of 20 tons of mustard blister agent to a port city for removal and destruction, Reuters reports.
Word of the shipment, which would include other warfare chemicals considered among the country’s “most critical,” came days after international officials said they could miss an end-of-year deadline for removing more of the most lethal materials held by Syrian President Bashar Assad. The leader admitted maintaining a chemical arsenal and agreed to its destruction in September, after a nerve-gas attack weeks earlier raised the possibility of U.S. military intervention against his regime.
Assad’s forces earlier this month seized a strategic highway expected to prove crucial in delivering his chemical stocks to the coastal city of Latakia. Upon reaching the port, the materials are to be loaded onto foreign vessels and taken away for destruction at sea.
Still, protection of the chemical shipments has remained a pressing worry for disarmament personnel. Last week, officials at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons blamed security concerns and other logistical hurdles for possible delays in transport.
Moscow “airlifted 75 vehicles, including 50 Kamaz trucks and 25 Ural armored vehicles to the airport in Latakia on Dec. 18-20,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a Monday meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
What We're Following See More »
"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.