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The Rosett Report

Axis of the Chemical Weapons Convention

September 13th, 2013 - 9:39 pm

With the backing of his Russian patron and arms supplier, New York Times columnist Vladimir Putin, Syria’s President Assad has agreed to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the treaty that President Obama has described as representing the will of 98% of the people on the planet to rid us all of the scourge of chemical weapons. Could this resolve the dangers of chemical weapons in Syria?

It seemed worth taking a closer look at the chemical weapons treaty, as well at the Hague-based outfit that implements it, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Having done some spelunking, I can report that whatever the views of 98% of humanity, there are some highly significant holdouts, including the governments of Iran and Russia — both of which acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention from the beginning, back in 1997. They offer a template that Syria’s Assad probably finds interesting: Sign, and cheat.

But surely the convention and its implementing body, the OPCW, would stop its States Parties from violating the treaty they agreed to? Think again. The OPCW is not part of the UN, but it is closely linked to the UN, and replicates many of the UN’s failings, including the tendency to promise grand things it is simply not configured to deliver. Back in 1997, when the U.S. Senate was debating whether to ratify the chemical weapons treaty, Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served as President Reagan’s ambassador to the UN, testified that it was “neither verifiable nor enforceable.” Looks like she had it right.

More on this in my article on “Syria’s Pals at the Chemical Weapons Convention.” And some highlights, summarized below:

– The U.S. State Department, as recently as this year, reported to Congress that Russia itself — now the proposed guarantor for Syria — is cheating on the Chemical Weapons Convention, with undeclared stockpiles.

– The OPCW has become a playground for Iran. Iran holds a seat on its executive council, and on all three main subsidiary bodies, including its budget advisory committee (which advises on a $99 million annual budget, to which the U.S. contributes 22%, or more than $20 million per year), as well as its scientific advisory group and confidentiality commission.

– It has been OPCW policy to hire Iranians onto its staff from the beginning, and in 2009 (according to a wikileaked secret U.S. cable), the French alerted the U.S. to an OPCW chemical weapons inspector — an Iranian who had previously worked for Melli Agrochemical, “a known proliferator,” with a record of buying nerve agents precursors for Iran’s defense ministry. The OPCW will not disclose whether this person is still on staff, or how many Iranians are currently working there, or in what jobs — merely that they are there, and under OPCW policy have every right to be there. As a member, Syria, like all other members, would enjoy the same privileges.

Tucked between Russia and Iran on this treaty, Assad should feel right at home.

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All Comments   (4)
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Syria has had chemical weapons for 30 or 40 years, now, suddenly the world will end if the US does nothing? Remember that Assad was our allie in Desert Storm? Yet, now, due to an outcry from AQ led "rebels" we're supposed to attack him?

Arms treaties are fools errands, always have been, always will be. There is no way to verify an arms treaty, there is also no way to guarantee with a military action that all of these weapons would be destroyed or captured.

As long as the Syrians (whomever actually pulled the trigger) only use them on each other, let them have at it. The best, least imperfect solution is a quarantine whereby all shipments leaving Syria are searched.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Precisely. Neither verifiable nor enforceable. An absolute sham. I'm sure the leftists will crow about 'success'! No war! [As if Obama ever actually meant such a thing! What planet do you live on if you believe that???] But think about the real picture beyond the sham. The broader picture.

This USA-Russian agreement to, ah, 'supervise' Syria's chemical weapons, which Syria is admitting what they previously denied - that they have such weapons - supplied to them of course by Russia...well, this agreement is 'idle chatter'. Otherwise known as 'hot air'. At least as far as chemical weapons are concerned.

BUT, what it does do, in one powerful checkmate swoop, with Obama the Narcissist totally unaware that he's been not merely had but tossed off the board..well, what it does it to set up Russia as the dominant power in the Middle East.

It used to be, in the days of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, it used to be the USA as the dominant power, trying to ease these dysfunctional nations, trapped in their 7th century tribal sociopolitical and economic mode, into the modern world. Heh. Not any more. Obama, in five short years has tossed the USA, and frankly, the Middle East, into the junk heap.

Now, what we have is that Russia has moved in to control the key imperialist power in the ME, Iran and its extension, Syria. And Russia has no interest in enabling these people into a modern democratic and economic mode. Its interest is in expanding its own economic and political power by setting them up as its satellites. This agenda - has been enabled into power - by Obama.

Obama's turning his back on the Iranian Green Revolution for democracy; his support of Ahmandinejad; his empty and meaningless rhetoric about the Iranian nuclear armament; his support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; his dithering about Libya which is now a hotbed of Al Qaeda; his dithering about Syria, which is now controlled by Russia and Iran; his rejection of Israel; his isolation of both Iraq and Afghanistan by his indifference to their need for support during a transition....all of this...has meant that Al Qaeda, a fundamentalist rejection of modernization, has gained in strength and the dictators who use Al Qaeda, such as Iran and yes, Syria and Yemen, are equally strong.

Three cheers for Obama! And weep for freedom, democracy and the USA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Using poisonous gas has its omens as well as benefits for those who possess it.
First and foremost you can scare an opponent big time with just the threat. But, maintaining the viability of the chemicals can be a nightmare which appears to be what Syria is now figuring out.
Seems there may be better weapons on the market these days rather than just spraying stuff that kills everything in its path and gives off a bad impression of your management as president of any country crazy enough to use the stuff.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
People don't appreciate how limited it is in application and how dangerous to your own side in tactical usage.

Handling hazards notwithstanding, the warheads have to be properly designed for proper dispersion of the liquid vapor. Temperature and humidity are all-important and if the wind shifts on you, it's Katie-bar-the-door.

If I understand my history correctly, gas warfare has only been used on massed enemy troops and as a terror weapon on civilians. You can't use it on an enemy less than several miles away unless the wind conditions are perfect. Like WWI, Saddam used it against massed Iranian troops under conditions resembling trench warfare. Unlike WWI, he also used it as a terror weapon against Kurdish civilian villages distant from any battlefront.

Syria's chemwar program began back in the 1970's as Assad, Sr. saw it as a "poor man's nuke", a last-ditch deterrent to an imagined Israeli invasion. As anything other than a terror weapon against rebel-held areas it's pretty damn useless. I don't think it's of any use in close-quarters to lift the sieges of his various bases and airfields. His soldiers would probably desert en masse if he did that.

I think the best he can do is to rid himself of the stuff, under the conditions that Putin has set. He can always keep a piece of the arsenal as needed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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