In coordination with Syria’s neighbours, the State Department is preparing to handle Bashar al-Assad’s cache of chemical weapons in the event of his regime’s collapse.
Josh Rogin at The Cable reports the State Department last week issued a diplomatic démarche warning Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon about the possibility of Assad’s WMDs slipping over the Syrian border and into their countries.
Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman says “We have ideas as to the quantity and we have ideas as to where they are. We wish some of the neighbours of Syria to be on the lookout… When you get a change of regime in Syria, it matters what are the conditions — chaotic or orderly.”
The démarche established four points:
- It acknowledged that the U.S. believes there is a robust Syrian chemical weapons program
- That political unrest could impair Syria’s security and control of these agents
- Syria’s neighbours need to be aware of the threat
- Finally, that the U.S. stands ready to offer border security to any nation that asks
One U.S. official made clear “It’s an exponentially more dangerous program than Libya. We are talking about legitimate WMDs here — this isn’t Iraq. The administration is really concerned about loose WMDs. It’s one of the few things you could put on the agenda and do something about without planning the fall of the regime.”
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