Syria’s Giving Up its Chemical Weapons? U.N. Satisfied So Far — and So is Israel!

The international agency that oversees chemical weapons — trying to arrange for countries to give up their stockpiles in an orderly, well observed manner — reports major progress in ridding Syria of its chemical warheads and materials.

Many in the world have been doubting that Syria is truly handing over its chemical weapons — under a deal arranged largely by Russia last year, to prevent a military strike by the United States.  

Symbol of the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Symbol of the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Quoting the news agency Reuters: “Syria has shipped out or destroyed approximately 80 per cent of its declared chemical weapons material, the head of the international team overseeing the disarmament process said.

“Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said if the momentum was sustained, Syria should be able to meet its April 27 deadline to hand over all declared chemical agents.”

A senior Israeli official recently expressed satisfaction that the process of shipping out Syria’s chemical weapons is proceeding in a satisfactory manner.

The official said that, as of ten days ago, Syria had handed over 60 per cent of its chemical weapons and destroyed all of its assembly lines under international supervision.  The Israeli added: “We are not sure if [President Bashar] Assad will try to conceal some capabilities, but if he does we will find out.”

Israeli leaders remain confident in their intelligence.

Of course, the big strategic point is this: With hardly any action taken by the Israelis, they are seeing one of the major threats against them — Syria’s non-conventional weapons — substantially reduced.  The Syrian civil war, raging since early 2011 with the deaths of 160,000 people and displacement of millions of civilians, is a terrible thing.  The instability could lead to new challenges and threats, from an Israeli point of view.  

But all in all, assessed right now, one key result — ridding Syria’s regime of its chemical weapons — is an important net plus that makes Israel safer.

April 20, 2014

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