The former American ambassador to Syria said that last week’s discovery of traces of chemical weapons in that country shows that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is in violation of the Russian-sponsored agreement, and a related United Nations Security Council Resolution, to rid Syria of chemical weapons, Josh Rogin reported today for Bloomberg View.
“The sarin revelations shouldn’t be a surprise given the regime’s track record,” former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told us. “It’s a violation of the deal we struck with the Russians and it’s a violation of the deal the Syrian regime struck with the UN.”
The [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’s] discovery shows that Assad has violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118, which codified the deal in 2013 and required Assad to declare all of his chemical weapons stockpiles and turn them over for destruction, Ford said. The resolution provides for penalties against the Syrian government for violations under Chapter 7, including possible sanctions or use of military force….
“Deterrence needs to be established, and that is going to require Chapter 7 action by the international community. It’s time to move forward on that,” said Ford, now a resident scholar at the Middle East Institute. “Regarding the sarin, I have not seen any signs that the administration has followed up on that.”
Rogin noted that the deal to remove stockpiles of chemical weapons from Syria averted a possible American military strike against the Assad regime.
The New York Times reported:
Taken together, the recent events raised troubling questions for international inspectors about whether Damascus was violating the terms of a deal brokered by Russia and the United States in 2013 that forestalled an American military strike. The Syrian government was held responsible for a series of chemical weapons attacks, including a deadly sarin attack near the capital, before that accord.
A Western diplomat briefed on the findings by the inspectors from the global Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that while there was no clear evidence of new use or production of forbidden chemicals, “the strong suspicion is they are retaining stockpiles which are being held back.”
“This, and the open defiance in using prohibited chlorine bombs, is indicative of bad faith from the beginning,” the diplomat said.
An editorial today (Google link) in The Wall Street Journal asked what this latest discovery of Syrian cheating portends about a future nuclear deal with Iran:
If the world won’t respond to evidence of cheating by a minor state like Syria, why should anyone believe it would act against cheaters in Iran?
Reuters broke the story Friday on the OPCW discovery of traces of the chemical agents sarin and VX. Back in September, the Assad regime admitted to having chemical weapons facilities that it had not previously declared. In October, an editorial in The Washington Post lamented that an “emboldened” Assad regime continued to use chemical weapons despite its joining the convention against the use of chemical weapons.
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