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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

6 Problems With A Syria Chemical Weapons Deal

This citizen journalism image, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens mourning over the dead bodies of Syrian men after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (Local Committee of Arbeen via AP)

This citizen journalism image, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens mourning over the dead bodies of Syrian men after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (Local Committee of Arbeen via AP)

Syria’s foreign minister says his country accepts the proposal to put its chemical arsenal under international control, but weapons expert Jim Walsh says implementing such an agreement would be a “complete nightmare.”

Walsh says there are a series of issues:

  1. We have no baseline. How do we know we got it all, or enough?
  2. Assad is actively dispersing his arsenal in anticipation of a strike. Now it’s even harder to find.
  3. Are we going to be able to take away the launchers? No, because they are “dual use” — they can be used for conventional warfare. Can we destroy/dismantle the manufacturing plants? Unclear.
  4. Destroying chemical weapons is a notoriously long and difficult process. The U.S. and Russia are still doing theirs.
  5. Syria is in the middle of a civil war.
  6. This could end up being a giant cat and mouse game. They show a little knee even as they move other stockpiles for safekeeping.

Walsh says that even with all of these problem, it’s reasonable to think that it would make it even more difficult for Syria to use chemical weapons.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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