The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Breaking News

September 30, 2013

Chemical weapons inspectors outline Syria plan

THE HAGUE, Netherlands —  Inspectors who will oversee Syria's destruction of its chemical weapons said Sunday their first priority is to help the country scrap its ability to manufacture such arms by a Nov. 1 deadline — using every means possible.

The chemical weapons inspectors said that may include smashing mixing equipment with sledgehammers, blowing up delivery missiles, driving tanks over empty shells or filling them with concrete, and running machines without lubricant so they seize up and become inoperable.

On Friday, the U.N. Security Council ordered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014.

On Sunday, inspectors met with media in The Hague to explain their current plan of action, which is to include an initial group of 20 leaving for Syria on Monday.

The organization allowed two inspectors to speak on condition of anonymity out of concern for their safety amid Syria's civil war; both are veteran members of the OPCW. Spokesman Michael Luhan said the men "are going to be deeply involved in Syria."

"This isn't just extraordinary for the OPCW. This hasn't been done before: an international mission to go into a country which is involved in a state of conflict and amid that conflict oversee the destruction of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction which it possesses," Luhan said. "This is definitely a historical first."

Syria acknowledged for the first time it has chemical weapons after an Aug. 21 poison gas attack killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb and President Barack Obama threatened a military strike in retaliation. A U.N. investigation found that nerve gas was used in the attack but stopped short of blaming it on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

After a flurry of diplomatic negotiations involving the U.S., Syria, and Syrian ally Russia, Syria made an initial voluntary disclosure of its program to the Hague-based OPCW. Under organization's rules, the amounts and types of weapons in Syria's stockpiles, and the number and location of the sites, will not be publicly disclosed.

The U.S. and Russia agree that Syria has roughly 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons agents and precursors, including blister agents such as sulfur and mustard gas, and nerve agents like sarin. External experts say they are distributed over 50 to70 sites.

One of the OPCW experts with a military background said the "open source" information about the Syrian program is "reasonable."

Timothee Germain, a researcher at the Center for International Security and Arms Control in Paris, who is not involved with the OPCW project, said that in the early phases of Syria's civil war, chemical weapons were consolidated into a small number of sites in order to keep them from falling into the hands of rebels. But when the prospect of a U.S. military strike emerged, the weapons may have been redistributed over a larger number of sites to preserve them.

He added that he is skeptical the current timeline can be achieved. "From a technical standpoint, it's really a long-shot," he said.

The investigators said members of the initial group of 20 will meet with counterparts from Syria's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and begin planning. A week later, the OPCW mission will be expanded to a larger number of investigators who will arrive in waves and begin visiting sites and disabling equipment. At the same time, they will be examining sites for their suitability as places to eventually destroy chemicals and ready-to-fire weapons, which is usually done by incineration.

"At this stage we're looking at tens of inspectors" for the mission, the OPCW military expert said. The teams will include chemists, military experts and medical personnel trained to deal with the hazards posed by chemical waste.

Protection for OPCW staff will be provided primarily by the Syrian government, with support from the U.N., which has a longstanding working relationship with the OPCW and lines of communication open with rebel groups.

The OPCW expert said access to weapons sites in or near rebel-held territory would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with the U.N. possibly helping negotiate safe passage. "It may be that we are not in a position to go to some of these places," he said. "Our inspectors are all volunteers. This is not a mission that will be carried out come what may."

After the initial phase of destroying Syria's ability to manufacture weapons, the actual destruction phase will take far longer and be more expensive, the second expert said. He added that "at this stage there is no reason to doubt Syria's commitment" to destroying its weapons, adding that its disclosure was voluntary and credible.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Ellspermann, Susan Ellspermann to deliver AU commencement address Indiana Lt. Gov. Susan Ellspermann will address the Anderson University Class of 2014 during commencement exercises on Saturday, May 10.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not fill field

    With less than two weeks to go, the 38th 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not have a full field for the first time in 12 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Turner case tests bounds of 'citizen legislature'

    When a legislative ethics panel meets this week to review the case of House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, members could have trouble finding clear-cut answers, in large part because of the Indiana General Assembly's status as a "citizen legislature."

    April 20, 2014

  • news_popefrancis.jpg Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

    Celebrating Easter Sunday, Christianity's most joyous and hopeful day, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria and for an end to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have targeted many Christians.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_24restaurants.jpg Mayor's menu filled up: One day, 24 restaurants

    Jenkintown (Pa.) Mayor Ed Foley, in a gut-busting campaign to draw attention to the tiny borough's varied restaurant scene, set out to visit all 24 of them on Saturday, starting with a pre-dawn visit to IHOP.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ukraine.jpg US weighing military exercises in Eastern Europe

    The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, a Western official said Saturday.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg 10 more bodies found inside sunken ferry by divers

    Divers recovered 13 bodies from inside a ferry that sank off South Korea, pushing the confirmed death toll to 46, officials said Sunday. The discovery came after rescuers finally gained access to the inside of the ship following three days of failure and frustration caused by strong currents and bad visibility due to inclement weather.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_flanagan.jpg Hometown favorite wants to win Boston Marathon, for Boston

    Shalane Flanagan grew up in nearby Marblehead with a reverence for the Boston Marathon and dreamed, like many locals and foreign runners alike, that she would win the race someday. Her goal has changed now.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami Correctional 06.JPG Indiana county worried about new law's impact

    A new law revamping the state's criminal code has sparked concerns in northeastern Indiana's Allen County that it will saddle the county with new costs and fill up the local jail.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_felumlee.jpg Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Oscar Pistorius' murder trial has gripped South Africa and sports fans worldwide. If he is found guilty of premeditated murder he faces 25 years to life in prison. Do you think he intentionally shot his girlfriend?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results