In light of what seems to be a progressive compliance to an agreement reached by the United States and the Russian Federation on September 14, 2013, the Syrian government has met its first deadline in an attempt to destroy their chemical weapons program. On Friday, September 19, 2013, Syrian officials have submitted an inventory list of their chemical weapons stockpile to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with the intent to destroy their entire chemical weapons program by mid-2014. It has been indicated that Syria has the potential of executing surface-to-surface missiles, aerial bombs, and artillery rockets containing several thousand tons of the toxic chemicals Yperite, VX, and Sarin for use in warfare.
Considering the history of Syria’s light-hearted regards for integrity, one only has to wonder about the accuracy of this “list” submitted to the OPCW. On July 23, 2012, when Syrian officials admitted to being in possession of stockpiles of chemical weapons for defense purposes, major concerns were raised given to the fact that Syria had previously denied being in possession of such weapons in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In July of 2012, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman severely contradicted himself when he stated “No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used”, safely and securely stored away from rebels, and will not be utilized “unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.” In December of 2012, a gas attack using the odorless military incapacitating agent named “Agent 15” killed seven civilians in Homs. In March of 2013, missiles allegedly containing a chemical substance were launched into the Khan al-Assal district of Aleppo and Al Atebeh suburbs of Damascus. When Syrian officials gave permission for the UN to investigate these allegations, they refused to allow the UN to investigate other areas where possible chemical weaponry were also alleged to have taken place.
However on April 18, 2013, British military scientists confirmed the use of nerve agents in the Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus areas by way of forensic evidence found on soil samples smuggled out of those regions, regions the Syrian government previously denied chemical weapon usage. Although Russian scientists concluded the March 2013 attack was possibly initiated by rebel forces, the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta in August of 2013, killing 1,300 people, was most definitely led by the Syrian regime.
Currently, the exactitude of this chemical weapons list remains under scrutiny until official reports from the OPCW confirm its validity. In the meantime, many alternative scenarios could be underway in yet another attempt by the Syrians to evade discoveries of possibly hidden chemical artillery. Syria could ship weapons to another undisclosed location since there have been reports in August of 2013 of the Syrians moving weapons to an outside location. Bashar al-Assad could order his chemical weapons to be shipped to allies in the outside regions in order to elude his stockpile from undergoing complete destruction.
North Korea perhaps?
©2013 Learus Ohnine