Tag Archives: Chemical Weapons

Current Event Cat of the Day: First Batch of Chemical Weapons

Current EVent Cat - Syria First Batch Chemical

Syria is one step closer to being chemical weapon-free, but many many steps away from ending their two year civil war.

The first batch of chemical weapons materials bid farewell to Syria on Tuesday in the first step of a UN-backed deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical stockpile. And how many ships does it take to get rid of the first round of chemical weapons? Three! One Danish ship to hold the dangerous chemicals and two Russian and Chinese warships to guard the Danish ship.

Syria’s chemical cargo left the country at the port of Latakia and is currently en route to Italy, where it will be transferred onto a U.S. Navy ship and sent out to international waters to die / be destroyed in a specially created titanium tank on board the ship.

The U.N. backed deal was brokered by the U.S. and Russia after hundreds of Syrians were killed with nerve gas in the suburbs of Damascus back in August. President Bashar al-Assad is still pointing blame at the rebels for the chemical attack, but most believe it was his government that carried out the assault.

But despite arguments over who the guilty party is, the chemical weapons are slowly being escorted out of the country with the hope that Syria will be chemical-free by June. Now Syrians can worry less about getting killed by rockets filled with the nerve agent sarin and worry more about getting killed by regular gunfire and missiles.

Via: BBC News & Current Event Cats

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Syrian Inspectors Fail in Their Mission

Current Event Cat - Weapons Inspectors

International chemical weapons inspectors in Syria have missed their October 27 deadline to visit all the chemical sites.

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fell short of visiting all 23 sites identified by the Syrian government. Instead they have only completed verification of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal at 21 of the sites. Time to return the Nobel Prize…

But the Nobel Prize crew might be able to forgive these Inspector Slackers since the only reason they haven’t been able to visit the remaining two sites is because they are in “contested areas” in Syria’s civil war. And I suppose they did find some good stuff (or bad stuff if you’re a Syrian civilian living in Damascas) in the 21 visited sites. The inspectors found 18 chemical weapons production facilities, 12 chemical weapons storage facilities, eight mobile units to fill chemical weapons, and three chemical-weapons facilities. I think it’s pretty safe to say at this point that Syria has chemical weapons.

Meanwhile, on the Syrian civilian front there’s some good news and bad news. The good news is that thousands of starving Syrian civilians have finally been allowed to leave the besieged Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya – which had previously been closed off by government blockades. The Syrian army had given them two choices: surrender or starve. Now, after months of eating grass, cats, dogs and donkeys, they’ve been given another option: flee.

As for the bad news, the Polio outbreak is Syria has been confirmed. The UN’s health agency as confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the highly contagious disease in the country in 14 years.

Via: The New York Times & BBC


Putin Was Robbed! Chemical Weapons Group Wins Nobel Prize

Current Event Cat - Nobel Winner

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the body overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Hague-based group has been out and about in Syrian war zones implementing the international chemical-weapons treaty. But Syria’s not the only place they hang out – since the 1990s the OCPW has conducted over 5,000 inspections in 86 countries and destroyed 80 percent of the world’s chemical weapons. Syria is the first time they’ve had to do their jobs in an active war zone though.

OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said the award (and the $1.8 million prize money) was a “great honour” and would spur it on in its work.

Other contenders for the prestigious prize were Malala Yousafzai and Russian President Vladimir Putin. One advocates for the rights of women and girls and survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban last year. The other kills journalists and is buddy-buddy with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Tough choice.

Malala Yousafzai just won the European Union’s annual human rights award on Thursday so she’s probably not too devastated about losing the Nobel Prize  to some chemical weapons inspectors. The Pakistani teenage activist beat out U.S. intelligence analyst/NSA leaker Edward Snowden. So again, the competition was pretty stiff….

But what about poor Putin? What’s he left with?

Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Russian advocacy group that credits him with finding a peaceful resolution to the Syrian-U.S. dispute over chemical weapons. The Russians argued that if US President Barack Obama could win in 2009, Putin should certainly be recognized in 2013. But sadly, he wasn’t. Now Putin will just have to go back to supplying Bashar al-Assad’s regime with weapons (non chemical ones are still cool), killing Chechens, and wrestling bears shirtless in Siberia.

Via: BBC News

Chemical Weapons Inspectors Arrive in Syria

Chemical Weapons Inspectors

A team of international chemical inspectors has arrived in Syria to begin the ambitious task of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The inspectors’ mission was born out of a deadly chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21. Most blame the Syrian government for issuing the attack but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insists it was the rebels. Whoever’s fault it was (it was Assad!), the chemical attack prompted the Obama administration to threaten Syria with missile strikes. But just when the US was about to enter into Iraq 2.0, Syria took John Kerry up on his unscripted statement that the US would back off if they destroyed all of their chemical weapons. With the help of Russia, and the endorsement of the UN, a deal was set up to get rid of the chemical weapons and avoid another unwanted war.

Basically the Obama administration somehow managed to avoid a military intervention in Syria but couldn’t manage to avoid a US government shutdown. Conclusion: Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are more pleasant to negotiate with than John Boehner and the merry band of tea partiers.

According to the agreement drafted by the US and Russia, the chemical inspectors will have to destroy all the equipment used for mixing and delivery by November. The whole operation, however, is expected to happen by next year.

It’s estimated that Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal includes more than 1,000 tonnes of sarin, the deadly nerve gas used in the Damascus attack, as well as other banned chemicals which are stored at multiple sites. And to make the job even tougher, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Muallem, said that seven of the 19 declared chemical-weapons sites are in active combat zones.

Syria seems to be cooperating for now but it’s difficult to know whether Assad’s regime is being totally up-front with where its stockpiles are located. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war rages on – sans chemical weapons but still with plenty of deaths.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Assad Needs One Year

Current Event Cat - One Year Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he needs one year to destroy all the chemical weapons he has but has “never used”.

In an interview with FOX News, Assad insisted that destroying the stockpiles of chemical weapons would cost US$1 billion and would take roughly one year. Assad claims he’s totally on board with handing over the weapons but calls the procedure “a very complicated operation, technically” that “needs a lot of money”. Is this Assad’s way of asking for a billion dollar handout? Kind of…

And when asked whether he would be willing to hand over chemical weapons to the US, President Assad said:

“It needs about one billion. It is very detrimental to the environment. If the American administration is ready to pay this money and take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don’t they do it?”

Despite his apparent willingness to give up his chemical weapons, Assad is sticking to his story that his government never sanctioned any sarin gas attacks.First, he tried to pin it on the rebels, saying terrorists were to blame for the chemical attack which killed more than 1,400 people.

“Sarin gas is called kitchen gas,” he said. “You know why? Because anybody can make sarin in his house. Any rebel can make sarin!”

So can any dictator – especially one with a large kitchen. But Assad says he has some mystery evidence that it was the terrorist groups who used sarin gas and has handed that info over to Russia (for safekeeping?).

Next he decided to blame photoshop. Assad said that the shocking videos of victims following a chemical weapons attack could have been forged.

“You cannot build a report on videos,” he said, adding, “There’s a lot of forgery on the Internet.

Assad cheering USFor example, this photo of Bashar al-Assad may be a fake. Assad would never wear something so short!

Via: The National Post & Current Event Cats