Syria’s regime may be able to retain parts of its shuttered chemical-arms factories under “compromise” terms devised by a global watchdog agency.
The United States could endorse the concept in order to finalize a plan this week for dealing with the dozen contested sites, even though doing so would require making “serious” concessions to President Bashar Assad’s government, said Robert Mikulak, Washington’s envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
“We are not, however, prepared to go further or engage in further haggling,” Mikulak told the agency’s 41-nation governing board on Tuesday.
He indicated that the plan from the agency’s Netherlands-based staff would impose new “tunnel perimeters” and “more effective monitoring measures” for at least some of Syria’s five underground facilities, while demolishing seven fortified hangars.
Mikulak did not elaborate further on the proposal. Additional details were not immediately available.
Washington previously rejected proposals by Assad’s regime to neutralize the 12 sites through measures short of full demolition. International authorities last year called for destruction of the sites by March, as part of a global effort to dismantle the Syrian government’s chemical-weapons arsenal.
“From the start, Syria has engaged in a concerted effort to retain these 12 former chemical weapons production facilities,” Mikulak said. “If Syria rejects this compromise proposal and continues its intransigence, there must be consequences.”
Assad’s regime last month finished handing over hundreds of tons of warfare agents as part of the international disarmament operation. The government agreed to relinquish its chemical stockpile in the wake of a 2013 nerve-agent attack that killed more than 1,400 people, according to U.S. estimates.
What We're Following See More »
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."
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.
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."
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."
"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."