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.

http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/syria-admits-having-41-chemical-arms-facilities/?mgs1=495bdyiOSe

 

Syria Update for Friday

This is getting interesting.

 

Tweet:

negin shiraghaei ‏@neginsh24m
@Diplomat_APAC: China’s embassy in Syria has come under fire and rebel snipers have targeted its ambassador. http://bit.ly/1g74BWi

Syrian Rebels Attack Chinese Diplomats, Embassy

By Zachary Keck

September 13, 2013

Chinese diplomats in Syria as well as Beijing’s embassy are under regular threat from rebel attacks, China’s ambassador to Syria has confided to local media outlets.

In an interview with the Global Times, Zhang Xun, China’s ambassador to Syria said that Beijing’s embassy in Damascus has increasingly been caught in the cross-hairs of fighting between rebel and government forces in recent months.

In one notable instance, shrapnel and shell fragments from a mortar attack deflected off a nearby building and landed inside the Chinese embassy.

“A shell hit the ceiling of a building some 60 meters away and the fragments bounced into our building,” Zhang told reporters from the Global Times, showing them the actual shells, which he kept in an envelope in his office.

Zhang said that in another attack last month, Syrian rebels fired mortar shells at President Bashar al-Assad’s motorcade. They missed the Syrian leader but hit a building that was located just 10 meters from the Chinese embassy. The shock from the attack damaged the nearby embassy, however.

“Several windows in our corridor were shattered. Some of the shrapnel fell onto my balcony,” Zhang said of the attack, which took place on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

According to the report, the Chinese embassy is located in the heart of Damascus near the Bashar al-Assad’s presidential palace and key military buildings, which unsurprisingly are often the targets of rebel attacks.

Another diplomat from the embassy told the Global Times that Chinese personnel have been targeted directly by rebel forces, particularly when they are meeting with Syrian officials. Indeed, according to a Want China Times report, Zhang was nearly killed in a sniper attack during a meeting he held with Syria’s foreign minister.

The Global Times article says that Zhang now keeps a bullet-proof vest, gas mask and pistol in his office.

There are also reports that the rebels are actively plotting attacks against the Chinese embassy, presumably in retaliation for China’s continued support for the Assad regime. The Want China Times report said that a brigade commander in the Free Syrian Army, one of the rebel forces fighting the Syrian government, has vowed to launch a “full-scale attack” on the Chinese embassy.

Meanwhile, the Global Times claims that a local driver the embassy had employed was arrested earlier this year by Syrian authorities for allegedly planning to place bombs under the embassy car. The article, which said the driver had confessed to the crime, added that he had been recruited by Syrian rebel forces during a trip to Jordan in February.

Following the incident Beijing assigned eight armed Chinese police officers to protect the embassy and its personnel. The only other Chinese embassies to have such protection are those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ambassador Zhang admitted that he has been frightened by the uptick in violence.

“To be honest, it would be a lie if I said I’m not a little bit scared,” Zhang was quoted as saying in the report.

This was a dramatic admission given Zhang’s past statements on the issue of safety in the country. Soon after taking over the ambassadorship in 2011, Zhang dismissed concerns that Chinese nationals in Syria were in any danger.

“Their lives are guaranteed and their properties as well,” Zhang told state media at the time, referring to Chinese nationals. “”There is no need for extra worries.”

The Chinese nationals themselves apparently disagreed, judging from the exodus away from the war-torn nation in the nearly two years since then. According to Chinese media reports, there were around 1,200 Chinese nationals inside Syria when Zhang took over as ambassador. Today there are just 20, not counting the embassy staff itself. Eight of those remaining are reporters.

This is probably a huge relief to the Chinese government. Beijing was profoundly affected by the situation in Libya in early 2010, when the Chinese government had to evacuate 36,000 nationals from that country in just 10 days after civil war broke out as part of the initial Arab Spring wave.

Nonetheless, China has remained defiant on maintaining a diplomatic presence in Syria. According to the Global Times report, China is one of just a dozen or so countries that haven’t closed down their embassies during the past two and a half years of fighting. Some of the other countries that have maintained their diplomatic presence in Syria include Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.

Chinese diplomats in Syria say they intend to continue to hold out in Syria.

“”Diplomats must stick to their positions until the last Chinese national willing to leave Syria is pulled out,” GT quoted one person at the embassy as saying.

Russian Ultimatium

Putin: Syria chem arms handover will work only if US calls off strike

Published time: September 10, 2013 17:00

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Syria’s chemical arms handover will only work if the US and its allies renounce the use of force against Damascus.

“Certainly, this is all reasonable, it will function and will work out, only if the US and those who support it on this issue pledge to renounce the use of force, because it is difficult to make any country – Syria or any other country in the world – to unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration,” President Putin said on Tuesday.

Putin said the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons had been extensively discussed by experts and politicians.

The Russian president said that he and President Barack Obama had “indeed discussed” such a possibility on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg last week.

It was agreed, Putin said, “to instruct Secretary of State [John Kerry] and Foreign Minister [Sergey Lavrov] to get in touch” and “try to move this idea forward.”

President Putin’s comments came shortly after the Syrian government said it would agree to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international control.

Despite voicing “some serious skepticism,” Western countries supported the move, stressing the importance of Assad fulfilling the agreement and surrendering the weapons stockpiles.

Britain said it would like Russia and Syria to show that the proposal to President Bashar Assad is “serious and genuine.”

In Washington, the White House echoed the UK statement, saying it wanted to verify that Syria was serious in its intentions.

Obama to address nation on Syria, pursues U.N. deal

Wishful thinking on USA Today’s part?

WASHINGTON — President Obama will address the nation Tuesday night on chemical weapons in Syria, as he and aides pursue a diplomatic proposal at the United Nations that has put military and congressional action on hold.

Obama spoke Tuesday with the leaders of France and the United Kingdom, and agreed to explore whether a Russian proposal to put Syria’s weapons under international weapons is workable, senior White House officials said.

The U.S. and allies discussed the proposal Tuesday at the United Nations, said officials who requested anonymity because negotiations are ongoing.

Russia — ally of Syria and opponent of U.S. military strikes — said Monday it would ask Bashar Assad’s government to put chemical weapons under international control and have them dismantled; Syria announced Tuesday it would accept Russia’s offer.

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/09/10/obama-syria-prime-time-speech-russia-france-congress/2791373/

 

Assad: US ‘should expect everything’ if it attacks Syria | JPost | Israel News

Assad: US ‘should expect everything’ if it attacks Syria | JPost | Israel News.

Yes, yes we should.

Some believe he means “Russia”.  Others believe “asymmetrical attacks on America”.

I think we should expect anything, up to and including direct attacks in America by terror cells that are obviously here (they crossed a porous border), and perhaps the unknown like a nuclear bomb in a harbor someplace, a direct attack by Russians on our military in the region or naval vessels in the Med.

We don’t know with any surety that Assad used weapons on the Syrians, or whether the Muslim Brotherhood did it.  We don’t know who provided the weapons (we believe it was Saddam).  We don’t know why the President suddenly wants to do this thing without the approval of the American people and Congress.

There is no strategic plan, there is no politic plan to fuse the military action with fixing the problem and there is no real threat to America – at the moment.  If we attack them and Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and God-Knows-Who-Else jumps in and piles on – well, all bets are off.

Breaking: US to ignore Russian Proposal

JPOST BREAKING: US official to ‘Post’: Russia proposal to put Syria chemical arms under global control will go ignored

RAGreeneCNN‏@RAGreeneCNN3m
US official calls Kerry remark on #Syria chemical weapons “a major goof,” says he “went off script,” CNN’s @jimsciuttoCNN reports