The Herald Bulletin

Morning 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
  • Beef pollutes more than pork, poultry, study says

    Raising beef for the American dinner table does far more damage to the environment than producing pork, poultry, eggs or dairy, a new study says.

    July 22, 2014

  • High child poverty casts pall over gains in Hoosier schools

    Indiana children are doing better in school, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, but the high rate of child poverty remains a big concern.

    July 22, 2014

  • Check doctors' vitals, before they check yours

    Americans consider insurance and a good bedside manner in choosing a doctor, but will that doctor provide high-quality care? A new poll shows that people don't know how to determine that.

    July 21, 2014

  • Afghan vet who fought wounded gets Medal of Honor

    Bleeding from both legs and his arm, Ryan Pitts kept firing at about 200 Taliban fighters, even holding onto his grenades an extra moment to ensure the enemy couldn't heave them back. On Monday, President Barack Obama draped the Medal of Honor around his neck, in a somber White House ceremony that also paid tribute to his nine platoon comrades who died that summer day in Afghanistan.

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong

    NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    July 21, 2014

  • Indy to use computer game to teach kids about law

    Indianapolis police are trying out an interactive computer game based on television's "Jeopardy!" to prevent teenagers from falling into lives of crime by teaching them about the consequences of breaking Indiana's laws.

    July 21, 2014

  • McDonald's, KFC in China face new food scandal

    McDonald's and KFC in China faced a new food safety scare Monday after a Shanghai television station reported a supplier sold them expired beef and chicken.

    July 21, 2014

  • Friend convicted of impeding Boston Marathon probe

    A college friend was convicted Monday of trying to protect Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by agreeing with another friend to get rid of a backpack and disabled fireworks they took from his dorm room three days after the attack.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hopkins settles pelvic exam suits for $190 million

    Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to a $190 million settlement with more than 8,000 patients of a gynecologist who secretly photographed and videotaped women's bodies in the examining room with a pen-like camera he wore around his neck, lawyers said Monday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Train with plane crash bodies leaves rebel town

    A refrigerated train bearing the bodies of many of the 298 people killed in the Malaysia Airlines plane disaster pulled away Monday afternoon from a rebel-held town in eastern Ukraine.

    July 21, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
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

Do you expect your physician to follow state standards and laws?

Of course
Not always
Never thought about it
     View Results