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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

While Assad's CW is 95.9% intact, Qaddafi's is 100% destroyed

This blog post should be subtitled:

A Tale of Two Chemical Weapon Stockpiles

And I think the moral of this story is clear: If you want to get rid of a fascist dictator's stock of chemical weapons, you need to get rid of the dictator first.

Bashar al-Assad had agreed to have sent all his chemical weapons abroad for destruction by this week; instead Reuters reported:
Syria has shipped out less than 5 percent of chemical weapons

29 January 2014
By Anthony Deutsch
(Reuters) - Syria has given up less than 5 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal and will miss next week's deadline to send all toxic agents abroad for destruction, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The deliveries, in two shipments this month to the northern Syrian port of Latakia, totaled 4.1 percent of the roughly 1,300 tonnes of toxic agents reported by Damascus to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"It's not enough and there is no sign of more," one source briefed on the situation said.
Meanwhile, the effort in post-Qaffadi Libya is over and done with as of last week. The New York Times reports:
Libya’s Cache of Toxic Arms All Destroyed

2 February 2014
By Eric Schmitt
WASHINGTON — Even as the international effort to destroy Syria’s vast chemical weapons stockpile lags behind schedule, a similar American-backed campaign carried out under a cloak of secrecy ended successfully last week in another strife-torn country, Libya.

The United States and Libya in the past three months have discreetly destroyed what both sides say were the last remnants of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s lethal arsenal of chemical arms. They used a transportable oven technology to destroy hundreds of bombs and artillery rounds filled with deadly mustard agent, which American officials had feared could fall into the hands of terrorists. The effort also helped inspire the use of the technology in the much bigger disposal plan in Syria.

Since November, Libyan contractors trained in Germany and Sweden have worked in bulky hazmat suits at a tightly guarded site in a remote corner of the Libyan desert, 400 miles southeast of Tripoli, racing to destroy the weapons in a region where extremists linked to Al Qaeda are gaining greater influence. The last artillery shell was destroyed on Jan. 26, officials said. More...
I am also wondering if the very plan to transport the dangerous chemicals out of the country for destruction is not in itself a delaying tactic? I'm no expert on chemical weapons or their destruction, I hope Dan Kaszeta will weight in here, but I thing it might be easier and safer to destroy them where they are, or close by, rather than incur all the dangers and delays involved in arranging transport through a war zone.

Libya's efforts to destroy its chemical weapons began in 2004 under Qaddafi, but progress was hindered until he was overthrown, and in a cautionary tale for those who put their faith in an agreement with Assad, it must be noted that after Qaddafi was overthrown, chemical weapons stores that he never declared were found and destroyed.

My blogs on Assad's use of CW in Syria:  
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

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