Syria Admits Having 41 Chemical-Arms Facilities

Oct. 29, 2013

OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü speaks on Oct. 11 during a press conference in The Hague. He reportedly said Syria has declared having 23 chemical-weapons sites at a total of 41 facilities -- a detail that could explain discrepancies in measurements of the country's chemical arsenal (Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images).
OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü speaks on Oct. 11 during a press conference in The Hague. He reportedly said Syria has declared having 23 chemical-weapons sites at a total of 41 facilities — a detail that could explain discrepancies in measurements of the country’s chemical arsenal (Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images).

The Syrian government has admitted to having 41 chemical-weapons facilities at 23 sites, according to a Associated Press report on Monday that might resolve questions over the country’s disclosure about its chemical arsenal.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime submitted a “formal initial declaration” of its chemical-weapons program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons last Thursday. However, it was not immediately clear if the confidential document stated that the country has more than the 23 chemical sites it identified in a September preliminary declaration.

U.S. officials believe the Assad regime has at least 45 chemical-arms sites, and questioned if the new Syrian declaration — announced on Sunday by the Hague-based oversight body — was incomplete, or if the government had consolidated its chemical-arms stocks.

A report from OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü — described by news outlets including AP, the New York Times and the London Telegraph — could explain the discrepancy.

Syria declared having 23 chemical-weapons sites at a total of 41 facilities — made up of 18 structures for producing chemical arms and 12 for storing them, along with eight mobile units for filling chemical weapons and three related facilities, Üzümcü reportedly said in the document he submitted to the U.N. Security Council. The Middle Eastern country admitted to having roughly 1,000 metric tons of “Category 1” chemical weapons, which are mainly precursors rarely used for peaceful purposes, along with approximately 290 tons of “Category 2” chemicals that are still considered toxic and dangerous. Syria also acknowledged possession of 1,230 unfilled munitions that could be used to deliver the poison, Üzümcü wrote.

“In addition, the Syrian authorities have reported finding two cylinders not belonging to them, which are believed to contain chemical weapons,” Üzümcü said.

Despite the disclosure of this report, U.S. officials have not ruled out the possibility that Syria has not fully disclosed all of its chemical development, storage and testing locations, according to the Times.

Assad acknowledged that he possessed chemical weapons and agreed to their destruction in September, shortly after a nerve-gas attack on civilians just outside Damascus spurred international condemnation and the threat of a U.S. military strike. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons then launched an ambitious effort to inventory and eliminate the Syrian chemical arsenal by mid-2014.

The organization announced on Monday that international chemical-arms inspectors completed their first round of verification activities in Syria, but were not able to visit two of the 23 sites because of security concerns in the war-battered nation.


Coming to a Mall near you….

Man accused of plot to shoot up Salt Lake mall


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man accused of plotting a deadly attack on a luxe outdoor shopping center in the heart of Salt Lake City this week told investigators he planned to “just randomly shoot and kill people.”

Jack Harry Stiles, 42, told a crisis counselor he was preparing to “kill as many people as possible” on Wednesday because it marked the anniversary of his mother’s death, authorities said.

Jail records show Stiles was booked into the Salt Lake County jail Monday and remains there on $1 million bail. The Salt Lake Legal Defender’s Office said he didn’t have any attorney yet.

Why are the Iranians Holding this former marine? Still?

Two YEARS?  This administration has done nothing to get his release?  I don’t care what his name is.  He served in the United States Marine Corps.

September 11, 2013, 11:25 AM

American held in Iran writes letter to John Kerry describing “miserable prison conditions”

This undated file photo released by his family via shows Amir Hekmati.

This undated file photo released by his family via shows Amir Hekmati. / AP Photo/Hekmati family via, File

DETROIT A former U.S. Marine held in Iran for two years said in a letter to the U.S. secretary of state that he has endured “miserable prison conditions” and believes Tehran is holding him hostage for use in a possible prisoner exchange.

Amir Hekmati’s letter, handwritten and dated Sept. 1, was addressed to John Kerry and first published Wednesday by Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

Hekmati, 30, wrote that he has been “held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.

“This is part of a propaganda and hostage-taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges,” he wrote in the letter that the Guardian said was smuggled from the prison.

Family spokesman Greg Romano told The Associated Press that Hekmati’s sister, Sarah Hekmati, authenticated the letter, confirming that the handwriting is her brother’s as is the letter’s tone. Romano provided the AP with a copy of the letter.

The AP sent an email seeking comment from the State Department on Wednesday.

Hekmati has been detained in Iran on what the U.S. says are false espionage charges since his 2011 arrest. Hekmati’s family says he traveled to Iran to visit his grandmothers.

The letter goes on to say that while Hekmati and his family “have suffered greatly,” he “will accept nothing but” an unconditional release.

The State Department late last month repeated its call for Tehran to release Hekmati and two other Americans. It said the U.S. requested assistance from new President Hasan Rouhani — viewed as more moderate than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

SWAT kills 107 year old man

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — A 107-year-old man was killed after SWAT officers shot back at him during a standoff at a home, police in the southeastern Arkansas city of Pine Bluff said Sunday.

Police were called to the home Saturday afternoon about a disturbance and say officers arrived to find Monroe Isadore had threatened two people by pointing a weapon at them.

Officers had the pair leave the home for their own safety and approached a bedroom looking for Isadore. When the officers announced who they were, Isadore shot through the door at them but missed hitting them, said Pine Bluff Lt. David Price in a news release.

The officers retreated to a safer area, and supervisors and additional help were called, Price said. Supervisors started negotiating with Isadore and continued after SWAT officers arrived at the home about 45 miles southeast of Little Rock.

NSA Spying going a LONG way



BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil demanded answers Tuesday from the U.S. about National Security Agency spying in the country and warned that trust between the two nations would be damaged if U.S. explanations about the program were not satisfactory.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was visiting Brasilia, sought to allay Brazil’s concerns about the program, saying the U.S. would work to provide answers to Brazil and other Latin American nations rankled by the NSA surveillance revealed by systems analyst Edward Snowden.

“We’re now facing a new type of challenge in our bilateral relationship,” Brazil Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said at a news conference. “The challenge is related to news about the interception of Brazilian electronic and telephone communications. And if those challenges are not resolved in a satisfactory way, we run the risk of casting a shadow of distrust over our work.”