How realistic is the idea of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal?

Originally posted on National Post | News:

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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The immoral, silent killer: Why chemical warfare instills in people a fear that conventional attacks do not

Originally posted on National Post | News:

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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Action in Syria will be ‘limited and narrow,’ Obama says as U.S. edges closer to strike

Originally posted on National Post | News:

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.”

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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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U.K. prepping warships as West eyes strike on Syria in wake of suspected chemical attack

Originally posted on National Post | News:

Britain is planning to join forces with America and launch military action against Syria within days in response to the gas attack believed to have been carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against his own people.

British Royal Navy vessels are being readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, alongside the United States, as military commanders finalize a list of potential targets.

Government sources said talks between Prime Minister David Cameron and international leaders, including Barack Obama, would continue but that any military action that was agreed could begin within the next week.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird joined other western leaders in applying more pressure on Syria on Sunday, with a call for Syrian authorities to allow the United Nations immediate and unfettered access to the site of last week’s alleged chemical attack.

Officials in Baird’s office said he had separate phone…

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Syria: Israel Attacks Weapons Convoy Bound for Hezbollah

The link below is to an article reporting on the latest news concerning Israeli air strikes against a weapons convoy in Syria bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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