Syrian Unrest Raises Fears about Chemical Arsenal

(Washington Post) Joby Warrick - In 2008, a secret State Department cable warned of a growing chemical weapons threat from a Middle Eastern country whose autocratic leader had a long history of stirring up trouble in the region. The Middle Eastern state with the dangerous chemicals was not Libya. It was Syria. Syria possesses some of the deadliest chemicals ever to be weaponized, dispersed in thousands of artillery shells and warheads that are easy to transport. Syria's preferred poison is not mustard gas but sarin, the nerve agent that killed 13 people during a terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995. The CIA has concluded that Syria possesses a large stockpile of sarin-based warheads and was working on developing VX, a deadlier nerve agent that resists breaking down in the environment. By early in the last decade, some weapons experts ranked Syria's chemical stockpile as probably the largest in the world, consisting of tens of tons of highly lethal chemical agents and hundreds of Scud missiles as well as lesser rockets, artillery rockets and bomblets for delivering the poisons. It is not inconceivable that weapons could vanish amid the chaos of an uprising that destroys Syria's vaunted security services, which safeguard the munitions.

2011-08-29 00:00:00

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