The Russian proposal to remove Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal has raised a raft of questions for politicians and disarmament experts alike. Damien McElroy answers some of them:
Does the outside world have an accurate picture of Syria’s chemical weapons?
Syria is believed to have large stocks of sarin, mustard gas and VX nerve agents. Paul Ingram, the executive director of the disarmament think-tank BASIC, points out that estimates of the extent of its arsenal varies widely among Western intelligence agencies, but experts believe it runs into the hundred of tons.
What is the current status of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal?
Syria has never signed a global treaty banning the storage of chemical weapons but the actual use of chemical weapons is banned by a 1925 treaty to which Damascus is a signatory. Damascus has never given an inventory of its stockpile. Any list that it is likely to produce…
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To hear Miriam Ziv tell it, Israelis are not complacent about the prospect of war spilling over their northern border from Syria. Batteries of the Iron Dome air defence system have been moved north to intercept missiles and citizens have been lining up for new or refreshed gas masks in Tel Aviv
“They are like part of our furniture,” said Ms. Ziv, a diminutive bundle of energy who leaves her post as Israel’s ambassador to Canada on Sunday, after five years in Ottawa. “Life goes on in Israel. There is no panic. We have had wars and been attacked before.”
In an exit interview about the Canada-Israel relationship in her Ottawa office, the news, as always in the Middle East, gets in the way. But she said the big concern for most Israelis is not what is happening in Syria.
Rather, she said, more sleep is lost over…
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Warning: Disturbing Images
In little more than two years, the Syrian civil war has distinguished itself as a particularly vicious conflict.
The United Nations estimates conservatively that more than 100,000 people have died, including thousands of women and children, with civilians often directly targeted or killed in indiscriminate assaults.
The Assad regime has deployed an array of nasty weapons, from cluster bombs to napalm-like incendiary devices and thermobaric explosives, whose blast of pressure and heat incinerates anyone at the impact site — and vacuums the air out of the lungs of people nearby.
Yet it was a singular event just last week that rallied the West into its most concerted response yet to the hostilities. Only after the Aug. 21 attack with suspected nerve gas, killing an estimated 350 to 1,400 men, women and children, did the U.S. and others talk seriously — for better or worse — of military…
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WASHINGTON — Edging toward a retaliatory strike, President Barack Obama said Friday he is weighing “limited and narrow” action against Syria as the administration bluntly accused Bashar Assad’s government of launching a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 1,429 people — far more than previous estimates — including more than 400 children.
No “boots on the ground,” Obama said, seeking to reassure a public weary after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With France as his only major public ally, Obama told reporters he has a strong preference for multilateral action. He added, “frankly part of the challenge we end up with here is a lot of people think something should be done but nobody wants to do it.”
Halfway around the world, U.S. warships were in place in the Mediterranean Sea armed with cruise missiles, long a first-line weapon of choice for presidents because…
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