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 »
"Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen led the first round of voting in France’s presidential election, according to early projections, as voters redrew the political map, placing the European Union at the center of a new political divide. Projections by the Kantar-Sofres polling firm showed Mr. Macron on track to win the first round with about 24% of the vote, ahead of Ms. Le Pen with nearly 22%." The vote marks the end of the country's dominance by conservative and socialist parties. The top vote-getters head to a runoff on May 7.
President Trump will deliver the keynote address for at the National Holocaust Museum's National Day of Remembrance ceremony on Tuesday. He'll speak from the Capitol Rotunda. The move is likely an effort to try to mend fences with Jewish groups. In January, "the White House ignited controversy when it didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day." And certain members of his inner circle are still suspected of harboring white supremacist or anti-Semitic views."
"President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week. In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any."
A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."