Syria has given up only 5% of chemical weapons, sources say. Could it wind up in al-Qaeda’s hands?

UN weapons inspectors in Syria. (photo: AP)

UN weapons inspectors in Syria. (photo: AP)

In 2013, a U.S. and Allied military attack on Syria was averted at the last moment by a Russian-negotiated deal. The Assad regime promised to disclose all of its WMD sites and have U.N. weapons inspectors remove 100% of Syria’s chemical weapons on a specific timetable.

But months after the deal was struck, Reuters reports that Syria has only given up 5% of its stockpile, and will miss yet another critical deadline.

Meanwhile, the danger remains that al Qaeda or other Radical jihadist forces could seize some of the chemical weapons.

Let’s pray that doesn’t happen, and leave that for a future political thriller. But here are the latest details.

Excerpts from a Reuters story:

  • “Syria has given up less than 5 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, totalled 4.1 percent of the roughly 1,300 tonnes 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.
  • “It’s not enough and there is no sign of more,” one source briefed on the situation said.
  • 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….
  • Failure to eliminate its chemical weapons could expose Syria to sanctions, although these would have to be supported in the UN Security Council by Russia and China, which have so far refused to back such measures against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
  • The deal under which Syria undertook to eliminate its chemical arsenal stopped the United States and its allies from launching bombing raids to punish Assad for a chemical attack last August and made clear the limits to international action against him.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggested in a report to the Security Council this week that shipments had been unnecessarily delayed and urged the Syrian government to speed up the process….
  • Under a deal agreed by Russia and the United States after the 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.
  • Eradicating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, including sarin, mustard gas and VX, requires massive foreign funding and logistical support.
  • The bulk of the most toxic substances are to be destroyed on the Cape Ray, a U.S. cargo ship now en route to the Mediterranean that will be loaded with the chemicals at an Italian port. The remainder will go to several commercial waste processing facilities, including in Britain and Germany.
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