Photo: Wikipedia Commons
It has been one week since the Wall Street Journal reported that Syrian forces were hauling chemical weapons out of storage to potentially lob against rebel fighters, and now Damascus officials say they won’t hesitate to use them against foreign forces as well.The New York Times reports that officials issued the warning Monday to ward off Western intervention.
From The Times:
Over the past four decades, Syria has amassed huge supplies of mustard gas, sarin nerve agent and cyanide, according to unclassified reports by the Central Intelligence Agency.
In a report to Congress covering last year, the C.I.A., referring to chemical weapons, said, “Syria has had a C.W. program for many years and has a stockpile of C.W. agents, which can be delivered by aerial bombs, ballistic missiles, and artillery rockets. We assess that Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its C.W. program, including precursor chemicals.” In a similar report for 2006, the C.I.A. said Syria’s arsenal included “the nerve agent sarin, which can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missile.” The report also said that Syria “is developing the more toxic and persistent nerve agent VX.”
So while Nawaf Fares, Syria’s ex-ambassador to Iraq told the BBC last week that Syria’s regime would “not hesitate” to use chemical weapons against its own people, the Times piece has Damascus officials saying they’d never do such a thing.
It seems a minor distinction. If the regime is going to use them when it feels threatened, it probably doesn’t matter much internally who they use them against.
What’s of even greater interest is that the country seems to have officially confirmed they have chemical and biological weapons at all.
The Daily Beast reports the Director of National Intelligence believes that Iraq’s chemical weapons may have been moved to Syria prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion:
Whether or not sensitive weapons technology was moved to Syria is a hotly disputed question in the intelligence community. James Clapper, now the Director of National Intelligence and formerly the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, said in 2003 that he believed materials had been moved out of Iraq in the months before the war and cited satellite imagery.
While that also is not a new suspicion it now has a far greater impact than it did nine years ago.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.