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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




DeYoung, Karen & Lynch, ColumU.N. team finds ‘clear’ evidence of sarin attack” September 17, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked September 20, 2013.

  1. “U.N. inspectors found ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that large quantities of the nerve gas sarin were used last month in Syria, the first confirmation by an internationally recognized team of experts that a chemical weapons attack took place.”
  2. “The inspection report, presented to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, does not assess blame for the attack. But underlying evidence included in the report, including the trajectory of poison-filled rockets, was cited by the United States and its Western allies as proof of the Syrian government’s responsibility.”
  3. “Eighty-five percent of the blood samples tested positive for sarin. A majority of the environmental samples confirmed the use of sarin. A majority of the rockets or rocket fragments recovered were found to be carrying sarin.”
  4. “Syria and Russia still say the Aug. 21 attack in the suburbs of Damascus was perpetrated by rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
  5. “Inspection of Syria’s estimated 1,000 metric tons of poison material would begin in November, with destruction to take place next year.”
  6. “Also Monday, President Obama signed an order waiving arms-control restrictions on the export of protective equipment and the provision of training to Syria. The action allows the shipment of U.S. gear to the OPCW for use in Syria, and permits equipment and training to be provided to nongovernmental organizations working with Syrian civilians and to approved rebel groups to shield themselves against any further chemical attacks.”
  7. “The U.S.-Russian road map also calls for a Security Council resolution that would punish Syria if it did not comply with the agreement.”
  8. “The agreement specifically refers to a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which includes a provision on the use of force. But diplomats from Security Council member nations, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door discussions, said the resolution would more likely be governed by a different provision authorizing measures short of military action.”
  9. “The diplomats referred to a Chapter 7 paragraph that suggests steps that include ‘complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.’”
  10. “Sarin was identified in the majority of the fragments, as well as in environmental and biomedical samples, including blood, urine and hair from the victims.”

Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation, OPCW


Gearan, Anne & Lynch, ColumU.N. Security Council approves resolution on Syrian arms” September 28, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked October 4, 2013.

  1. “The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously late Friday to approve an ambitious plan requiring Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction, the first major diplomatic milestone reached more than two years after the start of the Syrian conflict.”
  2. “U.S. and European diplomats conceded that some of their toughest wording aimed at compelling Syria to obey the council’s demands and holding perpetrators to account for using chemical weapons was removed from the final resolution at Russia’s insistence.”
  3. “Still, the measure constituted the first legally binding action on Syria from the Security Council since the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in early 2011.”
  4. “The agreement binds Syria to turn over its chemical arsenal but provides no automatic punishment if Syria balks. Enforcement would require further negotiation, setting up the prospect of more tussles between the United States and Russia.”
  5. “The White House claimed victory, citing the prospect of weapons inspectors entering Syria as soon as next week to begin the work of auditing and dismantling the country’s chemical stockpile.”
  6. “Secretary of State John F. Kerry hailed the council action as a show of unity that promises the elimination of one of the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpiles, one that had remained secret for decades. The United States and its allies say the arsenal was used in an Aug. 21 attack that killed about 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children, many as they slept.”
  7. “He said that “violations” of the agreement and “the use of chemical weapons by anyone will have to be carefully investigated by the Security Council of the United Nations, which will impose penalties only in the event that violations are serious enough to merit punishment” and are ‘proven by 100 percent,’ a threshold that could be insurmountable.”
  8. “Assad agreed to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program by the middle of 2014 under Russian pressure and following global outrage over the Aug. 21 sarin gas attack, the deadliest chemical attack in 25 years. The United States and its allies blamed the Assad government for the attack; Assad and his Russian backers said the rebels were responsible.”
  9. “The resolution says Syria ‘shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons,’ or transfer them to others.”
  10. “In the event of noncompliance, the resolution says, the Security Council can ‘impose measures under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.’”
  11. “Shortly before the Security Council’s vote, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons adopted a plan to send experts to inspect Syria’s toxic munitions, which U.S. experts have described as a mix of nerve agents such as sarin and blister agents such as sulfur mustard. Approval by The Hague-based OPCW cleared the way for the Security Council vote.”
  12. “The OPCW is scheduled to produce by Nov. 15 a timeline that details a series of disarmament milestones that Syria will be required to meet in order to ‘complete the elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.’”

Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation, OPCW


Lucas, RyanChemical weapons inspectors enter Syria” October 2, 2013. The Washington Post. Last Checked October 4, 2013.

  1. “An advance group of international inspectors arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin the ambitious task of overseeing the destruction of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program, a mission that must navigate the country’s civil war as well as the international spotlight.”
  2. “Nineteen inspectors from a Netherlands-based chemical weapons watchdog crossed into Syria from neighboring Lebanon on their way to Damascus to start finding, dismantling and ultimately destroying a chemical arsenal weighing an estimated 1,000 tons.”
  3. “The experts have about nine months to complete their work, which has been endorsed by a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Syria’s chemical stockpile to be eliminated by mid-2014.”
  4. “Experts at The Hague, where the OPCW is based, said Sunday that the inspectors’ top priority is to help Syria end its ability to manufacture chemical weapons by a Nov. 1 deadline, using every means possible. That may include smashing mixing equipment with sledgehammers, blowing up delivery missiles, driving tanks over empty shells or filling them with concrete, and running machines without lubricant so they seize up and become inoperable.”
  5. “Within a week, a second group of inspectors is scheduled to arrive – fewer than 100 combined – and form teams that will fan out to individual sites.”
  6. “Also Tuesday, a Syrian activist group that has been tracking the 30-month-long conflict put the death toll at more than 115,000. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said it has documented 115,206 people killed in the conflict. That tally includes 28,804 government troops, 18,228 pro-government militiamen and at least 21,531 rebels.”

Syria, Chemical, WMD, U.S. Foreign Policy, Sarin, UN, Chemical Surveillance, Nonproliferation, OPCW