Reuters reported today that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has revealed the existence of previously undisclosed chemical weapons facilities including “a laboratory to produce the poison ricin.”
Syria has detailed three new facilities to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as part of an ongoing review of the state’s toxic arsenal, three sources said.
The disclosures appeared to support assertions from Western governments in recent months that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had not been fully transparent to the world body in detailing its chemical weapons program.
Last year, after launching a chemical weapons attack against a Damascus suburb, Syria agreed to get rid of its chemical weapon stockpile and facilities under the supervision of OPCW in order to forestall possible military action. While the agreement forced Syria to clear its stores of the deadly nerve toxin sarin, as well as many of its facilities, Syria regularly missed deadlines, calling into question its commitment to the agreement. Earlier this year reports emerged that Syria was using chlorine, a toxic chemical that was not included in the agreement, as a weapon.
Today’s report confirms the suspicions expressed by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, earlier this month that Syria had not gotten rid of all of its chemical weapons.
An editorial in The Washington Post today addressed the issue of Syria’s ongoing use of chemical weapons. The editorial not only condemned Syria’s behavior, but warned that Syria’s brutality disqualifies it from being an ally of the United States.
But the story of Syria’s chemical nightmare is not yet over. The use of chlorine serves to remind of Mr. Assad’s brutality and stands as another good reason the United States can never consider allying with the regime in Damascus against the reprehensible rebel forces of the Islamic State. Syria has yet to destroy 12 production facilities, hangars and tunnels, and there are volume discrepancies and omissions in its declarations. Syria must come clean about these, agree to the permanent destruction of the facilities and reveal the truth about who used a choking weapon of World War I in the modern age.
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