Reuters has an exclusive that does not bode well for the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran. The administration brokered a deal with Syria’s Assad regime in 2013 that allegedly would have the country rid itself of its entire chemical weapons stockpile. That the deal counted on the Russians and the Syrians themselves always presented a major weakness. Now, Reuters reports that Syria has been moving its chemical weapons extremely slowly, and will miss a major deadline.
(Reuters) – Syria has given up less than five 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 metric tons 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.
The internationally backed operation, overseen by a joint OPCW-United Nations mission, is now 6-8 weeks behind schedule. Damascus needs to show it is still serious about relinquishing its chemical weapons, the sources told Reuters.
The world could be looking at a replay of the Iraqi situation that dogged the 1990s and early 2000s. Under United Nations sanctions, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein constantly played games with the allied enforcement program, diverting weapons inspectors and even firing on allied aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone over much of the country. That sanctions regime eventually crumbled, leading to the infamous war that removed Saddam from power in 2003. Before that war, Hussein used the UN’s Oil-For-Food program to corrupt numerous officials worldwide. Saddam played the UN both to hold onto power and to convince his enemies, notably Iran, that he possessed weapons of mass destruction that he would not hesitate to use.
Under a deal agreed by Russia and the United States after an August 21 sarin gas attack,Syria vowed to give up its entire stockpile by mid-2014. The rocket attacks in the outskirts of Damascus killed hundreds, including women and children.
Syria, where civil war has killed more than 100,000 people and forced millions to flee, has blamed delays on security obstacles. It said the mission could not be safely carried out unless it received armored vehicles and communications equipment.
Syria is in no position to make any demands. Well, it wouldn’t be, if it didn’t have the Russians on its side, and if it wasn’t aware of how its ally Saddam played the UN for more than a decade.