What Might Be Expected in Monitoring Syria: Lessons from Past Middle East Weapons Inspections

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Dore Gold - Weapons experts point to the successes of the West in both Iraq and Libya in destroying large weapons arsenals. Yet there are certain problems that weapons inspectors have had to deal with over the years that are common to all attempts to deal with control of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) of rogue regimes in the Middle East. The terms of the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Gulf War, UN Security Council Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq accept the destruction of all chemical and biological weapons. A key provision was a requirement that Iraq submit within 15 days a declaration on the locations, amounts, and types of chemical and biological weapons it possessed. Iraq delayed fulfilling this most basic requirement for years. The quantities of chemical agents that Iraq eventually destroyed had no meaning unless they were measured against the amounts that Iraq possessed to begin with. Like other Middle Eastern rogue states, Syria will not have an interest to fully disclose the extent of its chemical arsenal. Deception and concealment have always been part of the arms control process among these states and there is no reason to assume that Syria will be different. While Syria's chemical arsenal is concentrated in government-held areas, access routes to suspected sites will require weapons inspectors to move through territories held by opposition groups. Based on past experience, it may be expected that over time, the political conditions that led to the U.S.-Russian agreement are likely to erode. Russia and Syria itself are likely to use diplomacy to help dissipate the threat of the use of force, which had been pivotal in creating the conditions for obtaining the agreement to begin with. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2013-09-17 00:00:00

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