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Destroying Syria's CW Stocks

Posted on the 17 November 2013 by Charlescrawford @charlescrawford

How to destroy Syria's CW stocks, now that OPCW experts say that they have demolished Syria's CW-making facilities?

Not so easy to do this within Syria with a passing civil war raging on. So take the CW stocks to somewhere safe and do it nicely there.

Hmm. But where?

Albania looked like a plausible place - it had destroyed legacy CW stocks of its own, a loyal US ally, generally placid these days when it comes to accepting Western norms in principle.

Oops. Even Albania has environmental protesters.

Meanwhile it looks tricky even to get these hazardous materials to the Syria coast from where they they might be sent somewhere, or other:

A senior American official said: “That’s the problem — no one has attempted this before in a civil war, and no one is willing to put troops on the ground to protect this stuff, including us."

Good point. Therefore what?

Syria’s chemical weapons material may be on the high seas for a long time, as officials seek a country willing and able to destroy it. Already there are fears that the cargo ships bearing the material could become the weapons equivalent of a barge loaded with garbage that left Long Island in 1987 but could not find a place to unload for four months.

American law prohibits the importation of chemical weapons for destruction here, and Russia says it is still overwhelmed by the task of destroying its own stockpiles.

The more immediate concern is that over the next six weeks, the material — more than 600 tons of precursor chemicals, mostly stored in one- and two-ton containers — will present a huge, slow-moving target for the Syrian opposition groups at war with the Assad government — and sometimes in conflict with one another.

Curious how President Obama can waive parts of Obamacare legislation but not this prohibition on importing CW for destruction in such a good international cause.

And poor little Russia, so proud of its diplomatic triumph in securing this Syria CW deal and rich enough to pile huge sums of money into building more weapons systems, yet so 'overwhelmed' with its own Cold War CW stocks that it can't find somewhere in its 11 mainly empty time-zones to store this stuff and sort out the problem as and when.

Why not bring the CW materials to the UK for destruction, if only for the delicious spectacle of watching the Lefty-Greens freak out as they try to reconcile their adoration of Obama + hatred of nasty weapons + lofty internationalist principles with the need to object to anything the government proposes?

Anyway, let's worry about where this stuff goes once it is actually, you know, going:

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or O.P.C.W., which announced the plan for removing the material late on Friday, is expected to train Syrian forces to package, seal and safeguard the containers for transportation in truck convoys to the port from 23 declared weapons sites. Then the organization has to oversee the maritime voyage — assuming that a destination can be arranged.

The plan “sets ambitious milestones to be met by the government of Syria,” Ahmet Uzumcu, the director general of the disarmament organization, said Friday. “This next phase will be the most challenging, and its timely execution will require the existence of a secure environment for the verification and transport of chemical weapons.”

Under an agreement reached in September, Russia and the United States are to work closely with the disarmament agency and Syrian officials to develop a plan for “the security of the monitoring and destruction mission.” But the accord noted the “primary responsibility of the Syrian government in this regard.”

In other words, the key part of this scheme from the Russian point of view is well on track - the USA has to invest in Assad to make progress!

“This material would obviously be a target for any opposition element,” one senior Defense Department official said. “But we have seen reporting — both O.P.C.W. and others — that indicates the regime is serious about security.”

Well, I daresay they are. Especially their own.

Isn't this a good time to use market forces? Russia and USA proclaim a huge sum of money available to any country willing to take these stocks and destroy them properly under OPCW supervision. Then see who most needs the money and associated jobs/prestige. And who most cares about 'international solidarity'?

Failing that, doesn't Saudi Arabia have a lot of money and a lot of nice safe desert?

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