Syria Provides Inventory Of Chemical Weapons
As required by the agreement reached between the United States and Russia, and far in advance of the requirements set forth in the Chemical Weapons Convention that it recently became a part of, Syria has turned over a list of what it says its inventory of chemical weapons:
(Reuters) – Syria has handed over information about its chemical arsenal to a U.N.-backed weapons watchdog, meeting the first deadline of an ambitious disarmament operation that averted the threat of Western air strikes.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Saturday it had “received the expected disclosure” from Damascus, 24 hours after saying it had been given a partial document from Syrian authorities.
It said it was reviewing the information, handed over after President Bashar al-Assad agreed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons in the wake of a sarin gas strike in Damascus’s suburbs last month – the world’s deadliest chemical attack in 25 years.
Washington blamed Assad’s forces for the attack, which it said killed more than 1,400 people. Assad blamed rebels battling to overthrow him, saying it made no sense for his forces to use chemical weapons when they were gaining the upper hand and while U.N. chemical inspectors were staying in central Damascus.
The timetable for disarmament was laid down by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a week ago in Geneva when they set aside sharp differences over Syria to address the chemical weapons issue.
Their plan set a Saturday deadline for Syria to give a full account of the weapons it possesses. Security experts say it has about 1,000 tonnes of mustard gas, VX and sarin – the nerve gas U.N. inspectors found had been used in the August 21 attack.
The open question, of course, is whether the list is complete and how we’d be able to verify that. Even if it is complete, though, there remains the far more complicated task of how to corral these stockpiles into secure locations and arrange for their destruction, which likely would require removal from the country. All in the middle of a civil war.