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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Oppenheimer, AndyCBRN Weapons: The Growing ThreatNATO’s Nations & Partners for Peace, Volume 48 Issue 3. Pages 14-23. 2003

  1. “Before and since the September 11 attacks, evidence has mounted that terrorist groups and terrorist-sponsoring nations are developing or acquiring CBRN capabilities.” – page 16
  2. “North Korea created an international crisis in late 2002, when an official admitted to a US envoy that his country had restarted a programme to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU)” – page 16
  3. “The crisis gathered pace when North Korea withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT); expelled inspectors from the United Nations-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and announced it had restarted its nuclear reprocessing plant at Yongbyon to produce plutonium.” – page 16
  4. “The world’s attention is now on Iran, on which pressure is mounting from not just the US, but also from the UN, the EU, and Russia, to sign an Additional Protocol to the NPT to allow the IAEA more access to Iran’s nuclear sites.” – page 16
  5. “…Iranians continue to insist that they are developing a nuclear power industry only, claiming it needs to save its vast oil reserves for export.” – page 16
  6. “The actions of North Korea and Iran threaten to consign the NPT to history if they continue in their current nuclear direction.” – page 17
  7. “Iran also has a well-established CBW (chemical and biological weapons) programme… it has stocks of up to 2,000 tonnes of weaponized CW agents, including choking, blister, and blood agents. The US believes that Iran has also produced the nerve agent Sarin.” – page 17
  8. “Syria is believed to have one of the developing world’s most extensive CW programmes, having allegedly received CW assistance and chemical agents from Egypt in the 1970s, and by 1986 had an indigenous capability to produce and weaponise sarin and VX nerve agents, and mustard blister agent.” – page 17
  9. “Unlike several of its Arab neighbors (Iran, Iraq, and Libya), Syria has never tested CW.” – page 17

NPT, WMD, Export Control, Iran, North Korea, Syria


Mauro, Ryan, “The Syrian Dictatorship Prepares for Chemical Warfare” 10 February 2012, familysecuritymatters,, Last Checked 12 February 2012.

  1. “The civil war in Syria escalates almost every week as rebel forces grow stronger and Bashar Assad and his Iranian-backed thugs grow in ruthlessness. And now, chemical weapons have been reportedly delivered near the rebel stronghold of Homs an the regime’s forces in the area are putting on gas masks.”
  2. “Yesterday, the opposition learned that chemical weapons and their delivery systems have arrived at a school in the province. Soldiers manning checkpoints have been given gas masks. This comes as the regime appears to be winding up for a knock-out punch. Over 130 people were killed in Homs alone yesterday, adding to a death toll of over 600 for the past six days. An armored brigade is headed towards the rebel-held city of Zabadani right now and rebel-friendly areas like Homs, Idlib and Daraa are being bombed more than ever.”
  3. “Earlier in the month, Turkey intercepted four Iranian trucks on their way to Syria. One had components for ballistic missiles. The other three had a total of 66 tons of sodium sulfate, an ingredient used to make chemical weapons.”
  4. “There are four possible explanations for what the regime is doing. The first is that the regime is simply trying to scare its enemies into giving up.”
  5. “The second is that it is actually preparing to use its WMD and say it was the work of “armed gangs” and “terrorists” afterward. The fighting is getting worse, with the Free Syria Army briefly taking over suburbs of Damascus and protests now spreading to the critical city of Aleppo.”
  6. “The third is that the regime is preparing to use chemical weapons if foreign forces intervene, a prospect increasingly talked about over the past week. In mid-November, Assad met with his commanders to discuss this scenario. The regime is said to have deployed 21 missile launchers near the border with Turkey and armed 600 one-ton chemical warheads onto missiles after that meeting. The Russians supposedly agreed to send an emergency shipment of 3 million gas masks that, according to the plan, would be distributed by the end of 2011.”
  7. “The fourth possible explanation is that the regime is preparing its forces in case its chemical weapons fall into the hands of rebel forces or Islamic terrorists. The country never signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is huge, with some assessing it to be the world’s largest, consisting of sarin, mustard, tabun, VX and whatever supplies have come in from Iran and possibly, from Saddam Hussein’s regime ahead of the 2003 invasion.”
  8. “The regime has multiple WMD facilities in restive areas that the rebels could potentially seize. A disloyal soldier or scientist could sell off these weapons or bring them along with him as he defects. WMD facilities are located in or near Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Latakia and Damascus—all places where the regime is fighting to hold onto power.”

Chemical, WMD, Syria, CWC, Iran, PSI


Benari, Elad, “Former Army Officer Says Syrian Troops Used Chemical Weapons” 14 February 2012, israelnationalnews,, Last Checked 19 February 2012.

  1. “An officer who recently defected from the Syrian army claimed on Monday that the Syrian security forces are using non-conventional weapons in the crackdown against protesters.”
  2. “The officer, Captain Abd al-Salam Ahmed Abdul Razek, told the Al-Arabiya television network that President Bashar Assad’s security forces were using chemical weapons against the protesters, under the supervision of Russia and Iran. Razek, who served in the Syrian army’s chemical warfare unit, said that the Syrian military used nerve gas – which is prohibited under various international treaties – to facilitate the entry of troops to the city of Homs.”
  3. “He added that the army also possesses toxic substances which originate in Russia, and said that a small amount of these materials could lead to widespread destruction of an entire population. Razek noted that the use of the chemical weapons was carried out under the supervision of Russian and Iranian experts, who instructed the army when and where to use it.”
  4. “Meanwhile, at least 43 people were killed in Syria on Monday, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported. The report said that Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jafari, rejected the accusations against his country during a meeting of the General Assembly. Al-Jafari was quoted by Channel 10 as having said during the meeting that “the Syrian leadership is doing everything possible to respond to the demands for reform.”
  5. “At the same meeting, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, condemned Syria and said that “Assad has no moral right to lead his people.” “The images of frightened women and children, helpless in the streets, must be engraved in all our consciousnesses,” Prosor said. “The international community must act immediately to stop the systematic killing of children and innocent civilians.” The head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Navi Pillay, said earlier on Monday that it would appear that the failure of the UN Security Council to produce a resolution to intervene against Syrian violence has motivated Assad to have the army relentlessly attack the city of Homs.”
  6. “Russia and China vetoed an initiative in the Security Council on February 4 to end the deadly violence in Syria and have Assad step down from power.”

Chemical, Military, Syria, Israel


Starr, Barbara, “Military: Thousands of troops needed to secure Syrian chemical sites” 22 February 2012, CNN, Last Checked 26 February 2012.

  1. “The U.S. military has calculated it could take more than 75,000 ground troops to secure Syria’s chemical warfare facilities if they were at risk of being looted or left unguarded, CNN has learned.”
  2. “The conclusion comes from a military analysis of options for Syria that the Department of Defense is preparing for president should he request it, according to a senior U.S. official. Securing Syria’s chemical sites would be “extraordinarily difficult” given the scope of the problem, a Department of Defense official told CNN.”
  3. “The U.S. military believes there are 50 chemical weapon and production sites spread across the country with additional storage sites and research centers as well. The cities of Hama, Homs and al Safira, and the port city of Latakia are all believed to house production facilities.”
  4. “The analysis was provided by the United States’ Central Command, which has been considering how the U.S. military would handle potential scenarios should U.S. troops be called in, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation. While the number is large – nearly as many as are currently serving in Afghanistan – any actual deployment should it ever come to that would undoubtedly be significantly smaller than the planning suggested. U.S. officials continue to insist the American position is to push for a diplomatic solution.”
  5. “The U.S. intelligence community currently believes Syria’s weapons sites are secured by the regime, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress last week.  But the senior U.S. official who spoke to CNN said the “nightmare scenario” is what would happen if that situation changes and the regime suddenly fall apart, or the fighting gets to the point that the international community believes military intervention is necessary to secure the chemical weapons.”
  6. “A defense official told CNN’s Chris Lawrence last week that while the U.S. “continues to monitor the overall situation in Syria,” there are “ongoing discussions specific to the location of, and security around, the various components of their chemical weapons program.” “Syria probably has one of largest programs in the world,” said Leonard Specter with the Monterey Institute of International Studies. “It has multiple types of chemical agents.” Specter said the stocks include World War I-era gases like chlorine and phosgene as well as more modern nerve gases.”
  7. “The United States is paying particular attention to the possibility of the weapons falling into the hands of extremists, in the event the government loses control of certain areas or splinters among itself, the defense official said. “There would be kind of a vacuum that would lend itself to extremists operating in Syria which is particularly troublesome in light of the large network of chemical warfare, (chemcial biological weapons), weapon-storage facilities and other related facilities that there are in Syria,” Clapper said.”
  8. “The senior U.S. official said American military commanders are continuing to strongly advocate for a political and diplomatic option in Syria rather than a military one. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Clapper have already voiced concerns publicly about arming opposition groups who are not well known to the United States. But the official also notes the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad itself still has military cards to play. So far the regime has not used its chemical or biological capability or any military aviation units against protestors. If Syrian attack helicopters were called in, he said, “that would be very significant.”
  9. “They haven’t demonstrated any interest or any intent to use those,” Demspey said in an interview that aired this weekend on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

Military, Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy


Cohen, Bryan, “U.N. concerned that Syria could have chemical weapons” 5 March 2012, BioPrepWatch, Last Checked 11 March 2012.

  1. “Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, and Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, have warned that Syria may have chemical weapons.”
  2. “General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that Syria has an integrated air defense system and biological and chemical weapons, Reuters reports.”
  3. “In the last 11 months, a crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in the country has led to the deaths of over 7,500 civilians at the hands of Syrian security forces.”
  4. “According to Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, Washington is also concerned that Syria may have weapons of mass destruction.”
  5. “This is a topic that’s being discussed actively with Syria’s neighbors and with our allies in Europe and elsewhere,” Feltman said, according to Reuters. “We don’t have any indication at this point that these stockpiles have fallen out of the control of the Syrian government, but it’s one of the reasons why a managed transition is so important. We’re watching this. We’re watching it carefully.”

Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy


Solomon, Jay and Barnes, Julian E., “World News: U.S., Jordan Discuss Securing Syria Cache — Fears Mount Over Suspected Chemical, Biological Weapons” 9 March 2012, TheWallStreetJournal, Last Checked 11 March 2012.

  1. “The American and Jordanian militaries are jointly developing plans to secure what is believed to be Syria’s vast stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and Arab officials briefed on the discussions said.”
  2. “The groundwork comes amid mounting concerns that Damascus’s arsenal of nerve agents and mustard gas might go loose due to the country’s growing instability. One plan would call for Jordanian special operations units, acting as part of any broader Arab League peacekeeping mission, to go into Syria to secure nearly a dozen sites thought to contain weapons, these officials said.”
  3. “A high-level delegation of Jordanian defense officials visited the Pentagon late last month to discuss the threat of Syrian weapons of mass destruction and other security issues, officials from both governments said. U.S. officials stressed that Washington and Amman don’t foresee unilateral commando raids inside Syria, due to the potential for direct conflict with President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. But they said that locating and securing the sites will be a central part of any peacekeeping mission that is eventually allowed into the country.”
  4. “Anything of that nature has to be done in a permissive environment,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the discussions with the Jordanians. “No one is going to want to fight their way in through bad stuff, like chem and bio weapons.”
  5. “Syria is believed to have one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and is one of only seven nations that didn’t sign the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, the arms-control agreement that outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of such weapons. Other non-signatories include Israel, North Korea, Myanmar and Egypt. Over the past four decades, Syria amassed vast supplies of mustard gas, sarin nerve agent and cyanide, according to declassified reports by the Central Intelligence Agency. Significant quantities of these chemical agents are believed to have been weaponized by the Syrian government in artillery shells, bombs and possibly Scud and SS-21 missiles. Russia, North Korea, Egypt and Iran are among the countries that have assisted Damascus in developing these weapons, current and former U.S. officials say.”
  6. “Experts on Syria’s weapons program said the chemical and biological agents are developed and stored in nearly a dozen sites, largely in northern and central Syria. Some are in cities currently racked by violence, such as Hama and Homs.”
  7. “The Obama administration and its allies have also been seeking to glean more insights into the extent of Syria’s purported chemical weapons program through the use of satellites and interviews with defecting Syrian soldiers. Increasingly high-level officers from the Syrian army have crossed into Turkey and Lebanon to organize against Mr. Assad.”
  8. “The Pentagon believes, though, that Damascus’s arsenal is likely controlled by Mr. Assad’s closest allies. U.S. officials this week said there are no indications that Mr. Assad’s security forces are prepared to use these weapons against Damascus’s political opponents, or that they have gone loose.”
  9. “But the Obama administration increasingly believes the Assad regime will eventually fall. Syria’s neighbors, in particular Jordan and Turkey, have told U.S. officials they are worried about what would become of the weapons under such a scenario. The Turkish and Jordanian officials expressed concern that elements of the Syrian opposition have ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and could seek to use the weapons in terror attacks around the Mideast, a U.S. official said.”
  10. “If left unsecured, it would be, potentially, a very serious threat in the hands of . . . Lebanese Hezbollah,” Adm. William McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, told a congressional committee Wednesday. “I think that it’s going to take an international effort when Assad falls — and he will fall — in order to secure these weapons.”
  11. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held extensive discussions on the Syrian WMD threat with President Barack Obama and his national-security adviser, Thomas Donilon, in recent weeks, officials from both governments said. Israel’s government is concerned about militant groups obtaining the weapons and using them to threaten the Jewish state. The Obama administration is coordinating particularly closely with Jordan because of its proximity to Syria and Amman’s strong intelligence and commando capabilities. Jordan also has a history of cooperating with U.S. special-operations teams.”

WMD, Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy


Farwell, James P., “Syria’s WMD Threat” 5 April 2012, TheNationalInterest,, Last Checked 8 April 2012.

  1. “Buoyed by the loyalty of his Alawite community, Bashar al-Assad has acted ruthlessly to crush dissent in Syria. His brutality has outraged the international community, but that has not deterred Assad. And the worst may lie ahead.”
  2. “Although fears of Iraq’s chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRNE) capability were also questioned, the Syria situation is different. No one doubts that Syria possesses a modern chemical-weapons capability and thousands of rockets capable of downing passenger aircraft.”
  3. “Syria’s past behavior is disturbing. It is a non-nuclear-weapon state, party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and it has a comprehensive nuclear-safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet after Israel destroyed what was probably a plutonium-production reactor at al-Kibar in 2007, an IAEA investigation found Syria had breached its obligations under the NPT.”
  4. “More recently, Lt. Abdulselam Abdulrezzak, who once worked in Syria’s chemical-weapons department, made (unverified) claims that chemical weapons were employed in Bab Amr against protesters.”
  5. “All this points to a shared international interest in containing Assad’s CBRNE arsenal. Using these weapons against his own citizens would constitute a war crime. And the weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups would enlarge the threat.”
  6. “The nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative assesses that Syria has one of the most sophisticated chemical-warfare capabilities in the world. It has mustard gas and sarin, possibly the VX nerve agent and Scud-B and Scud-D ballistic missiles capable of being fitted with chemical warheads. Some estimate it holds between one hundred and two hundred Scud missiles already loaded with a sarin agent and has several hundred tons of sarin agent and mustard gas stockpiled that could be used for aircraft bombs or artillery shells.”
  7. “It is one of only eight nations that is not a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawing the production, possession and use of chemical weapons. Its agents are weaponized and can be delivered. Although most believe that the arsenal is in working order, we should not presume that is true. It could possibly be in a significant state of deterioration, which would intensify the hazard and suggest it must be dealt with sooner rather than later.”
  8. “Reports differ as to Syria’s biological-warfare capability. German and Israeli sources believe it possesses bacillus anthracis (which causes anthrax), botulinum toxin and ricin. American sources believe the capability is “probable.” In 1972, Syria signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, but it has never ratified it.”
  9. “The international community seems prepared to act. Russia, which values Syria as an arms customer and worries Assad’s fall would reduce its influence in the Middle East, has taken pains to separate itself from Assad’s possible use of WMDs, strongly denying that it has helped Syrian forces use chemical weapons against the opposition. Even while aiding Syrian efforts to crush the protests, Iran denies transferring chemical weapons to any third party.”
  10. “The U.S. State Department has sent a diplomatic demarche to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia warning against the possibilities that WMDs may cross their borders. In August, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the United States and its Mideast allies were intensifying surveillance of Syrian chemical and biological depots through satellites and other equipment. The United States has offered to help any post-Assad government secure Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons and anti-aircraft missiles.”
  11. “Potential loss of control over WMDs may pose a threat, considering the terror groups that would like to get their hands on them. Col. Riad al-As’ad, head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, says al-Qaeda is not operating in Syria. But al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has reportedly ordered followers to infiltrate the Syrian opposition. Sunni radicals associated with the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda, have urged fighters to go to Syria. And one should not doubt al-Qaeda’s determination to acquire WMDs—Osama bin Laden once professed that acquiring chemical or nuclear weapons is “a religious duty.”
  12. “WMDs could be smuggled into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank or elsewhere. In the past, Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have all attempted to acquire chemical or biological weapons. In a sign of precisely how destabilizing some view this threat, Israeli officials have warned that Syria transferring chemical weapons to Hezbollah would constitute a declaration of war.”
  13. “The Friends of Syria, a coalition of over fifty nations that has met in Tunis to discuss forming an international peacekeeping force backed by U.S., EU and Gulf-nation airpower, should ratchet up pressure on Assad to step down. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other Islamic nations have clamored for ousting Assad. That’s a promising sign. Arab nations, not the West, should take the lead in dealing with Assad’s brutality.”
  14. “Securing Syria’s CBRNE arsenal poses a uniquely serious challenge. NATO, Russia and China should join these Arab nations in demanding that Assad immediately secure his stockpile, then show he has done so.”
  15. “President Obama has said the United States won’t commit troops to a military intervention. But there are other options. Allied partners could mount coordinated special operations to secure or destroy Assad’s arsenal.”
  16. “Whether it is better to mount such an operation before or after Assad falls is a decision for military and political experts. But international leaders must think through the options and be prepared to act. All nations—but particularly those in the neighborhood—have a vital stake in containing these instruments of death and destruction. Now is the time for them to exert the leadership to ensure that happens.”

WMD, Bioterrorism, Nuclear, al-Qaeda, Military, Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy


Bozkurt Abdullah, “Turkey monitors Syria’s chemical weapons” 13 April 2012, Sunday’s Zaman,, Last Checked 15 April 2012.

  1. “More than anything else that keeps security analysts working on the Syrian desks in the Turkish capital around the clock with little sleep and many cups of black Turkish coffee is the “unknown” prospect of a chemical weapons stockpile by the Syrian army and whether or not these weapons can be used by Assad’s forces or its militia proxies against Turkish interests when the regime is pushed to the limit.”
  2. “Syria is the only one of Turkey’s neighbors that has not signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty banning chemical weapons production, possession, distribution and use. Hence, we do not know how comprehensive a chemical arms program Damascus has been running so far, nor do we know the specific nature or capacity of its stockpile and the exact whereabouts of these weapons.”
  3. “There are only estimates from the Turkish, Arab and Western intelligence agencies that have been tracking Syrian efforts since the early 1980s.”
  4. “Assad has stored these weapons in some 50 different cites, mostly located in the northern part of the country that is closer to the Turkish border. For example, there are weapons depots in Hama, Homs, Latakia, al-Safirah, Dumayr and Khan Abu Shamatwere, which are all believed to contain chemical weapons.”
  5. “Last month, during a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told members that the US administration had been in discussions with Turkey over their anxieties regarding chemical and biological weapons depots in Syria. He stressed that the US was concerned over Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, which he said was “100 times worse than what we dealt with in Libya.” In the same committee, Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of the US Central Command, which covers the Middle East and Gulf region, also said, “Syria has a ‘substantial chemical and biological weapons capability and thousands of shoulder-launched missiles’.”
  6. “As the only NATO member bordering Syria, Turkey is also concerned that Assad forces may use chemical weapons against civilians in besieged towns and cities as a last resort in order to escalate the humanitarian crisis and trigger a massive refugee exodus from Syria.”
  7. “On many occasions, Turkish authorities have had to force Iranian cargo planes flying through Turkish airspace to land at Turkish airports for inspection or have seized suspicious cargo carried by Iranian trucks overland en route to Syria.”
  8. “The head of the OPCW is Ahmet Üzümcü, a Turkish diplomat, who was unanimously elected director-general of the organization in 2009 for a four-year term. Ankara has been providing Üzümcü with intelligence reports on chemical weapons in Syria.”
  9. “The red flag was raised last year when Turkish intelligence discovered that Russia, a backer of the Assad regime, had sent 3 million gas masks to Syria. Officials in Ankara believe this shipment may be a sign that the regime has been preparing to use chemical weapons in an armed conflict.”
  10. “In the meantime, Turkey has been preparing for a doomsday scenario in the event of a chemical attack. The security measures around strategic vital assets like dams and water reservoirs in areas close to the Syrian border have been upgraded. The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has already developed technologies to protect Turkish troops and civilians from chemical attacks as well as early warning and detection systems using airborne scanning devices at the Marmara Research Center.”
  11. “The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK)’s NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) schools have been mobilized to offer what the army calls “wake up” services to train the personnel on preparedness for the hazards of chemical weapons. Turkish troops on the Syrian border have been trained on a contingency plan for a possible chemical attack from Syria, and the TSK has reportedly taken the necessary precautions to prevent such a possibility.”
  12. “The TSK has been monitoring the troop movements of the Syrian army with an eye on mobile missile launchers that may have the capability of firing missiles with chemical warheads.”
  13. “Turkey is also utilizing NATO’s assets, especially an early warning radar system that was installed in Kurecik, Malatya province, as part the NATO missile shield to track Syrian missiles.”
  14. “Last but not the least, Turkish officials have also been talking to the allies on the possibility of taking out a weapons depot believed to contain chemical arms in a series of surgical air strikes with the participation of Turkish, Saudi and US fighter jets.”
  15. “The Israelis, who are also deeply worried about chemical weapons in Syria, look to Turkey to see if there is room for cooperation on this issue. Considering the expertise of the Israeli Air Force in surgical strikes, their participation may come in handy.”

WMD, Chemical, Syria, Chemical Surveillance, CWC


George, Marcus, “Iran hails Non-Aligned summit as diplomatic coup against West,” Reuters, august 23, 2012. Available at Last checked August 24, 2012.

  1. ”The Islamic Republic’s three-year tenure of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which starts on Sunday, is a chance for Tehran to elevate its international standing as the United States seeks to cripple its economy and isolate it diplomatically over its nuclear program.”
  2. ”Although many analysts say the movement, set up in 1961 to counter big power domination of international relations, has waned since the end of the Cold War, the diplomatic spotlight will give Tehran an opportunity to show Washington has failed to cut it off from the rest of the world.”
  3. ”Around 35 heads of state or government are attending from the movement’s wide membership that stretches from developing giants such as India to tiny Caribbean islands.”
  4. ”’Hosting and chairing NAM has a lot of benefits. It’s the basis for continuing political influence over a significant group of developing nations for three years,’ said Professor Peter Willetts of City University.”
  5. ”Willetts’ analysis of a U.N. General Assembly vote on August 3 condemning the Syrian government’s use of force against its own people showed that 70 of the 120 NAM members voted in favor and only 8 voted with Syria, Iran, China and Russia.”
  6. ”’Given NAM members have a long history of opposing interference the internal affairs of developing countries, this is an extraordinary demonstration of the revulsion felt by the majority towards the violence in Syria,’ he (Willetts) said.”
  7. ”’It may succumb to the temptation to use the movement for its own purposes and cause massive disfunctionalism in the organization. Moderate members won’t want NAM to be hijacked,’ he said.
  8. ”There is little doubt that Iran wants to reconstruct NAM into a more muscular political tool. Iranian media have been full of announcements from officials saying Tehran would breathe new life into it to challenge ‘Western domination’.”

Non-Aligned Movement, Iran, Developing Countries, Syria, China, Russia


Sisk, Richard, “US Intel Lost Track of Syrian Chemical, 28 September 2012,, Last Checked 7 October 2012.

  1. “Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Syria has moved small amounts of its chemical weapons from secure sites and U.S. intelligence is unsure where those weapons ended up.
  2. “We just don’t know” the status of the stores of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide in the Syrian stockpile that have been moved recently, Panetta said Friday at a Pentagon briefing with Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay.
  3. “There has been some intelligence that … there has been some movement in order for the Syrians to better secure … the chemicals,” Panetta said. “So while there’s been some limited movement, again the major sites still remain in place, still remain secure.”
  4. “There has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place. Where exactly that’s taken place, we don’t know,” Panetta said. “I don’t have any specific information about the opposition and whether or not they’ve obtained some of this or how much they’ve obtained and just exactly what’s taken place.”
  5. “Israel has warned that it might attack if Syria lost control of its chemical weapons stocks, believed to be the largest in the Middle East. President Obama has declared that the threat of chemical or biological warfare in Syria would be a “red line” for the U.S. that might bring military action.”
  6. “Syria has four main suspected sites for the storage of chemical weapons to include one north of Damascus, one near Homas, a third by Hama and fourth near Cerin. Smaller sites are located across the country.”
  7. “Any stock of W.M.D. or unconventional weapons that the Syrian Army possesses will never, never be used against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances,” said Jihad Makdissi, a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman. “These weapons are made to be used strictly and only in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Military, Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy, Chemical Surveillance


Arabiya, Al, “Iran, UN , NATO warn Syria against using Chemical weapons“,, 2 October 2012,, Last Checked 7 October 2012.

  1. “Iran, the United Nations and the NATO on Monday added their voices to warnings against Syria ever using chemical weapons in its increasingly large-scale war with anti-government insurgents, as more deaths were reported across the war-torn country.”
  2. “Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in New York that Iran could not support any country — including ally Syria — that used such weapons, calling this “a situation that will end everything.“If any country… uses weapons of mass destruction, that is the end of the validity, eligibility, legality, whatever you name it, of that government,” he said at a talk given to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, according to AFP.”
  3. “U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday once again warned Syria against using chemical weapons, saying any such attack would bring “dire consequences.”
  4. “I once gain emphasize the fundamental responsibility of the Syrian government to ensure the safety and security of any such stockpile,” Ban told reporters at a meeting marking the 15th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. “The use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences,” he warned. “Chemical weapons simply have no place in the 21st century.”
  5. “NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles were a “great concern” but the solution to the conflict remained political, not military.”
  6. “Meanwhile, shelling and air raids killed scores of Syrian civilians, including children, on Monday, a watchdog said, while rebels and loyalists fought close-quarter battles in Aleppo’s main souk. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling in the provinces of Hama, Deraa and Homs.”
  7. “In Aleppo, an AFP correspondent said rebels and regular soldiers traded fierce machinegun fire in and around the historic souk, which reverberated across the centuries-old UNESCO-listed covered market.”
  8. “At least 30,000 people, including more than 2,000 children, have died in the conflict since it erupted in March 2011, according to figures supplied by the Observatory.”

Chemical, Syria, Iran, NATO, UN


Editors, “Syrian Rebels Claim Knowledge of Chemical Weapons, 10 October 2012,, Last Checked 26 October 2012.

  1. “According to a group of videos that have been posted on YouTube by Syrian activists, the rebels engaged in an ongoing military struggle against the Syrian government are aware of government-run sites containing chemical weapons.”
  2. “In a separate development in this regard, an ex-senior officer in the Syrian Army who claims to have served as the country’s chief of staff of chemical warfare reported to CNN that Iranian technicians are providing active assistance to the Syrian government in its research into the production of chemical weapons. The former officer further stated that such weapons could be easily transferred to the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.”
  3. “In the YouTube videos, narrators presenting Google Earth satellite imagery offer detailed description of several sites where they allege that chemical weapons and missiles are being stored or manufactured.”
  4. “Adnan Sillu, a former major general in the Syrian Army, expressed his belief that it would not be difficult for the Assad regime to move the weapons in case a danger develops that they might come into the rebels’ possession. “They are artillery shells and rockets that can be moved easily to Hezbollah,” he added. At the same time, though, Sillu denied reports that he had admitted attending a meeting, prior to his defection, at which the participants discussed the potential use of chemical weapons.”
  5. “The ex-Syrian major general said he had knowledge that Syrian and Iranian experts were conducting joint research at the chemical weapons facility at Al Safir near Aleppo, which contains a complex of tunnels and a base for Scud missiles. “There are warehouses there,” Sillu claimed, “used for experiments on poisonous grenades that contain sarin gas, tabun gas and mustard gas.””
  6. “One of the online videos provides a detailed look at a military installation southwest of Damascus in al-Mazzeh, where a large military airport is located. In this video, an anonymous narrator says, “The chemical warehouse is connected with an underground tunnel that goes to the airport.” Pointing out what is apparently the tunnel’s exit, the narrator asserts that the tunnel is large enough to house trailers.”

Chemical, Syria, Chemical Surveillance


Laub, Karin and Jordans, Frank, “Chemical weapons caught in Syria, 13 October 2012,, Last Checked 26 October 2012.

  1. “The U.S. and regional allies are closely monitoring Syria’s chemical weapons – caught in the midst of a raging civil war – but options for securing the toxic agents stuffed into shells, bombs and missiles are fraught with risk.”
  2. “President Bashar Assad’s embattled regime is believed to have one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the world. Fears have risen that a cornered Assad might use them or that they could fall into the hands of extremists, whether the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, an Assad ally, or al-Qaida-inspired militants among the rebels.”
  3. “Turkey’s prime minister sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council on Saturday for its failure to agree on decisive steps to end the fighting, as NATO ally Germany backed the Turkish interception of a Damascus-bound passenger jet earlier in the week.”
  4. “Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Saturday with Arab and European leaders amid growing tensions between Turkey and Syria. He told reporters after the meetings that Turkey was prepared to use force again if it was attacked, just as it did last week when a shell fired across the border from Syria killed five Turkish villagers. “If a similar incident occurs again from the Syrian side, we will again take counter action,” Davutoglu told reporters, while stressing that the border between Syria and Turkey is also the frontier of NATO.”
  5. “The price of military action against the arsenal is prohibitively high, Steven Bucci, a former senior Defense Department official, and others say. Airstrikes on chemical weapons depots could inadvertently release toxic clouds or expose them to looters. A ground operation would require thousands of troops, and the U.S. administration has pushed back on any suggestion of direct military action in Syria. Pinpoint operations by special forces could easily go wrong.”
  6. “The issue has been a topic in the U.S. presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has said he would send U.S. troops into Syria if needed to prevent the spread of chemical weapons, while President Barack Obama has said that movement or use of chemical weapons would have “enormous consequences.”
  7. “Syria’s secrecy compounds the problem. Damascus hasn’t signed nonproliferation agreements, long denying it has chemical weapons. Syria “is a black hole for us,” said Michael Luhan of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, declining to give an estimate of the size of the arsenal because foreign inspectors are barred.”
  8. “A map by the Monterey think tank shows four production sites, one 12 miles southeast of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and a major battleground where artillery attacks killing at least two were reported Saturday.”
  9. “Anxiety rose over the summer after the regime warned it might use chemical weapons against foreign attackers. Obama warned Assad that the threat of chemical warfare is a “red line” for the U.S. Even key Assad ally Russia told him to stand down. Analysts say the bigger threat is that the weapons fall into the wrong hands. Such worries over the fate of advanced weaponry were highlighted on Friday, when a shadowy militant group known as Jabhat al-Nusra joined Syrian rebels in seizing a government missile defense base.”
  10. “For now, the West’s best options are deterrence and containment, analysts said. This includes warning the regime and the rebels of the dire consequences of using or losing control of chemical weapons and working with Syria’s neighbors, particularly Jordan and Turkey, to prevent chemical weapons from being smuggled out of Syria. On Thursday, Jordanian officials confirmed that U.S. special operations forces and their Jordanian counterparts have been training at a compound some 50 miles from the Syrian border how to protect civilians from possible chemical attacks.”

Military, Chemical, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy, Chemical Surveillance


Yan, HollySyria Chemical weapon potential: What is it, and what are the health risks?” December 7, 2012. CNN. Last checked April 15, 2013.

  1. “The government insists it would never use chemical weapons on its own people. But world leaders say Syria’s desperation could lead to even more tragedy in the war-torn country.”
  2. “Military analysts believe Syria may have one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world. Specifically, the supply could include sarin, mustard and VX gases. U.S. intelligence indicates Syria has mixed chemical compounds needed to make sarin — a deadly agent that can quickly kill thousands.”
  3. “Sarin gas is an odorless nerve agent that can cause convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
  4. “VX is another nerve agent that can be lethal when inhaled. It can also be dispersed in a liquid form; even a few small drops on the skin can lead to the same effects as sarin gas.”
  5. “Mustard gas — also known as sulfur mustard — leaves chemical burns on the skin, eyes and even the lungs when inhaled. It was commonly used in World War I. While mustard gas can be fatal, it also can disable victims and can cause cancer or permanent blindness.”
  6. “Syria could deliver chemical agents through a variety of ammunition, such as bombs dropped from aircraft, Scud surface-to-surface missiles, artillery shells or rockets, according to Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.”
  7. “‘The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable,’ Obama said this week. ‘And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable.’”

Bioterrorism, Syria, WMD, Sarin


Allmeling, Anne, “Syria Dilemma Ties Global Community’s Hands,” February 2, 2013, DW, Top Stories, World, Middle East,, Last checked February 14, 2013.

  1. ”Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, are now the temporary homes of 600,000 Syrian refugees. Between 2,000 and 3,000 Syrians are now leaving the country on a daily basis, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”
  2. ”Government troops as well as rebel fighters are now receiving foreign support in the form of money and weapons. With outside actors mixed into the conflict, the Syrian civil conflict is morphing into something of a proxy war. Iran has allied itself with Damascus, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar are hoping rebel forces can keep government troops at bay. In spite of extensive sanctions, supplies of weapons appear to be secure for both sides – one of the primary reasons the situation in Syria appears so hopeless.”
  3. ”Foreign mercenaries who had been employed by Gadhafi for years and who were originally from the Sahel region – a 1,000-kilometer swath of desert that runs east-west through the African continent – plundered the country’s well-stocked weapons depots after Gadhafi’s fall. They then returned to their own home countries, weapons in tow.”
  4. ”Many of those weapons ended up in the hands of terrorists and strengthened the organization known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – one of the groups responsible for current acts of terror in Mali.”
  5. ”In Syria, a reform of arms exports policies or of Syrian security forces is no longer tenable. Also complicating matters is the tight international framework that Germany and its international partners are operating within.”

Export Control, al-Qaeda, UN, Syria


Bellamy van Aalst, Jill & Lopez, Clare & Kahlili, Reza, “Scent of ‘germ’ warfare raises fear in the Mideast;
 Iran, Syria and North Korea step up work on biological weapons” February 4, 2013, NYT. Last checked February 6, 2013.

  1. “Among the more than 16 biological agents that Iran reportedly is developing are anthrax, Ebola, encephalitis, biological toxins, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), cholera, smallpox and plague.”
  2. “Iran, with North Korea’s help, has genetically altered the smallpox virus in ways that may make current vaccinations ineffective.”
  3. “Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles are of immediate concern to Israel, Jordan and the United States, whether in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s hands or those of terrorist organizations.”
  4. “…locations of chemical weapons munitions and Scud missiles equipped with chemical warheads in Syria have been identified and are continually monitored. That is not the case with the arguably more dangerous biological weapons being developed by the nexus of Iran, Syria and North Korea.”
  5. “Each of these countries also has an extensive medical and pharmaceutical research and development infrastructure within which to produce and conceal its biological weapons programs. Iran and Syria also have shared artillery, ballistic missile and munitions technology with each other and likely with Hezbollah for delivery of such pathogens.”
  6. “Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his powerful clerical and military regime continue to use deceitful tactics to conceal development of an arsenal of virtually untraceable deadly biological weapons that could result in tens of millions of deaths.”
  7. “Middle East threat reduction requires a far more aggressive and comprehensive approach to deter the proliferation of biological weapons.”

Bioterrorism, Iran, North Korea, Syria


Stephanie Nebehay, “Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria: WHO” February 19, 2013. Reuters. Last Checked, February 25, 2013.

  1. “Typhoid has broken out in an opposition-held region of Syria due to people drinking contaminated water from the Euphrates River.”
  2. “An estimated 2,500 people in northeastern Deir al-Zor province are infected with the contagious disease, which causes diarrhea and can be fatal, the United Nations agency said.”
  3. “There is not enough fuel or electricity to run the pumps so people drink water from the Euphrates which is contaminated, probably with sewage,” the WHO representative in Syria, Elisabeth Hoff, told Reuters by telephone.”
  4. “Typhoid fever is an infection of the intestinal tract and bloodstream caused by salmonella bacteria. People become infected after consuming food or beverages handled by an infected person or by drinking contaminated water.”
  5. “Hepatitis A, another water-borne disease which can cause ve epidemics, is also spreading in areas such as Aleppo and Idlib as well as in crowded shelters for displaced people in Damascus.”
  6. “This is typical when you see water and sanitation systems totally break down. Between 50 and 70 people share toilets in many shelters in Damascus,” Hoff said.”
  7. “Leishmaniasis, a tropical disease transmitted by sand-flies that causes skin ulcers resembling leprosy, is spreading in Syria and there are now 14,000 cases in Hassakah province in the northeast, according to the WHO.”

Emergency Response, WHO, Syria


Editors, “Intel Chief Uncertain of U.S. Ability to Secure Syrian Chemical WeaponsGlobal Security Newswire. April 12, 2013. Last checked April 15, 2013

  1. ”The head of U.S. intelligence on Thursday said he was unable to confidently predict how much of Syria’s chemical arsenal and other sensitive weapons could be safeguarded if President Bashar Assad’s regime is abruptly ended.”
  2. ””It would be very, very situational dependent to render an assessment on how well we could secure any or all of the (weapons) facilities in Syria,” he said.”
  3. ”A U.S. military attempt to secure Syria’s large, dispersed arsenal of nerve and blister agents would have to be done with the backing of regional partner nations and other states, according to Clapper.”
  4. ”The Defense Department is understood to have begun preparing an emergency response plan for destroying Syria’s chemical warfare materials to ensure they are not used in the civil war or allowed to fall into militant hands.”
  5. ”Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday informed the House Armed Services Committee that “we have not detected use of chemical weapons,” …”Obviously, if that line is crossed, then we’ve got a different situation. Then you get into the next set of dimensions to this, if chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands.””
  6. ””There are several examples where we are quite sure that shells with chemicals have been used in a very sporadic way,” the diplomatic source asserted.”
  7. ”Authorities in the village of Douma close to the Syrian capital said they have preserved the remains of six individuals killed in another alleged chemical assault.”
  8. ”There are also 32 survivors of the attack that have volunteered to be checked out by the U.N. team, according to a letter sent to the team leader, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom.”

Syria, Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, UN


Barnes, Diane, “Chemical Arms Ban Nations Underline Fears on Syria” April 22, 2013. Global Security Newswire. Last Checked April 22, 2013

  1. “Member nations to an international chemical arms ban on Friday voiced “deep concern” over the alleged use of lethal agents in Syria’s civil war, and they pressed Damascus and seven other governments to quickly join the accord “in the interests of enhancing their own national security.””
  2. “The Syrian government has exchanged accusations with rebels regarding who was behind an alleged March 19 gas attack responsible for 31 deaths in the village of Khan al-Assal.”
  3. “Separately, U.S. intelligence agencies were said last week to be reviewing indications of multiple chemical strikes by Assad’s forces.”
  4. ““The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be reprehensible and completely contrary to the legal norms and standards of the international community,” delegates said in a 29-page political declaration backed by consensus at the third Chemical Weapons Convention review conference, which concluded in the Netherlands on Friday.”
  5. ““Some states parties didn’t want to talk about [the situation] because Syria is not a [Chemical Weapons Convention] state party and was not there to defend itself,” but the treaty “really bans any use of toxic chemicals in warfare anywhere, anytime by any country regardless of whether they’re a state party or not,” Walker told GSN on Monday.”
  6. “Russia last week reaffirmed plans to finish eliminating its chemical arms by 2015; earlier press claims suggested the process could drag out for an additional five years. Moscow as of late last year had destroyed 70 percent of the 44,000-ton stockpile that had once been the world’s largest.”
  7. “Col. Muammar Qadhafi destroyed about half of Libya’s declared mustard agent and precursors prior to the country’s 2011 revolution; the country’s new government has since reported additional materials and weapons never declared by its predecessor.”
  8. “Documents from the review conference are intended to set a five-year course for decisions by the organization’s 41-nation Executive Council and by annual gatherings of states parties.”

Syria, Chemical, Chemical Surveillance, Russia, Libya, UN


Gearan, Anne, “U.S. still evaluating claims that Syrian government used chemical weapons,” April 23, 2013, The Washington Post, World, National Security, Last Checked April 24, 2013.

  1. “The Obama administration expressed caution Tuesday about new claims by Israel that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against rebels.”
  2. “U.S. officials said they are still evaluating whether the Syrian regime has employed chemical weapons, a step that President Obama has said could trigger direct U.S. involvement in a civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.”
  3. “Two senior Israeli military officials asserted Tuesday that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deployed chemical weapons in several incidents that killed dozens of rebel fighters. The officials told reporters in Israel that their evidence — including photographs that purportedly show victims foaming at the mouth — made them “nearly 100 percent” certain.”
  4. “Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who is in Brussels for NATO meetings on Syria, said that he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone Tuesday morning and that Netanyahu “was not in a position to confirm” the assessment by Israel’s military. Kerry said further investigation is necessary.”

Chemical, Israel, Syria


Deutsch, Anthony “‘Evidence’ of Syria chemical weapons use not up to U.N. standard” April 26, 2013. Reuters – Yahoo News. Last checked April 30, 2013.

  1. “Assertions of chemical weapon use in Syria by Western and Israeli officials citing photos, sporadic shelling and traces of toxins do not meet the standard of proof needed for a U.N. team of experts waiting to gather their own field evidence.”
  2. “That type of evidence, needed to show definitively if banned chemicals were found, has not been presented by governments and intelligence agencies accusing Syria of using chemical weapons against insurgents.”
  3. “With Syria blocking the U.N. mission, it is unlikely they will gain that type of access any time soon.”
  4. “The White House on Thursday said the U.S. intelligence community has assessed with varying degrees of confidence that the chemical agent sarin was used by forces allied with President Bashar al-Assad. But it noted that ‘the chain of custody is not clear.’”
  5. “The Israeli military this week suggested Syrian forces used sarin and showed reporters pictures of a body with symptoms indicating the nerve gas was the cause of death.”
  6. “Sarin is a fast-acting nerve agent that was originally developed in 1938 in Germany as a pesticide. It is a clear, colorless, tasteless and odorless liquid that can evaporate quickly into a gas and spread into the environment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because it evaporates so quickly, sarin presents an immediate but short-lived threat.”
  7. “A team of 15 experts, put together in response to a request from the U.N. Secretary General to investigate the claims, has been on standby in Cyprus for nearly three weeks.”

Bioterrorism, Syria, WMD, Sarin





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