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Chemical Weapons

September 7, 2013
Re "Senate panel supports U.S. strike on Syria," Sept. 5 It's time to call everyone's bluff on the Syrian chemical issue to smoke out the contending parties. Whether it be Bashar Assad's regime, the rebels, the U.S. and its allies, Arab states, the Russians or the Iranians, all claim they are against chemical weapons use in Syria. Leaving aside the wink-wink involved - obviously, some party (think the Assad regime) used the weapons in the August attack - let's put the representations to the test.
August 27, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - A United Nations chemical weapons team in Syria postponed a second day of inspections Tuesday for security reasons as the country's foreign minister challenged the West to produce evidence that his government was behind last week's alleged chemical attacks outside Damascus. The U.N. team decided to put off inspections Tuesday “in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team,” the world body said in a statement. The U.N. is hopeful of resuming inspections Wednesday, an official said.
August 29, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
Syrian President Bashar Assad wields command over the world's biggest stockpile of chemical weapons, international security experts say, and he is expected to emerge from any punitive Western airstrikes with his arsenal intact. With an estimated 50 storage sites, many situated in or near urban centers, any attempt to destroy or degrade the Assad government's supply of poison gases and nerve agents would require a massive invasion of ground forces that no nation considered part of the emerging "coalition of the willing" would be likely to support.
August 28, 2013 | By Kathleen Hennessey, Michael A. Memoli and Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - The apparent poison gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians last week is testing President Obama's views on military intervention, international law and the United Nations as no previous crisis has done. The former constitutional law professor, who came to office determined to end what critics called the cowboy foreign policy of George W. Bush, now is wrestling with some of the same moral and legal realities that led Bush to invade Iraq without clear U.N. consent in 2003.
April 25, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON -- U.S. lawmakers quickly called for action after the White House informed members of Congress on Thursday that American intelligence agencies now believe the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad. But many were not specific about what that action might be taken. President Obama has warned that Syria's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line," raising the possibility of military intervention to secure the country's large stockpile.
October 6, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - The historic destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal began on Sunday, as a team of disarmament experts hastened to comply with an international mandate to eliminate the nation's massive chemical stockpiles by mid-2014. Syrian personnel under international supervision used cutting torches and other tools to destroy an array of items, including missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment, the United Nations said Sunday in a statement. The process will continue in coming days, the U.N. said.
June 14, 2013 | By Raja Abdulrahim
The Syrian government Friday called White House allegations that it has used chemical weapons in the country's civil war “full of lies,” according to state media reports. Syria's Foreign Ministry instead blamed such attacks on “terrorist” groups, the term it uses to refer to the opposition. U.S. officials said Thursday that President Bashar Assad's government had crossed a “red line” by using the nerve agent sarin in attacks this year, and that President Obama had authorized sending arms to some rebel groups.
April 18, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian and Paul Richter
WASHINGTON -- The British and French governments have asked the United Nations to investigate what they believe is credible evidence that the Syrian regime has used small amounts of chemical weapons in recent months, officials said. The evidence, including soil samples and witness testimony,  is not definitive. But the concerns are such that “we are pressing the United Nations to investigate further and raising our concerns with international partners,” said a British diplomat who declined to be named in speaking about a sensitive matter.
August 26, 2013 | By Paul Richter
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Monday condemned Syria's reported chemical weapons attacks as a “moral obscenity” and declared that the Obama administration intends to move quickly to hold the Syrian government accountable. Citing “undeniable” evidence that the government of President Bashar Assad used nerve gas against its population last week, Kerry said that the world must respond to the use of weapons that have long been outlawed by international agreement.
April 24, 2013 | By Shashank Bengali
CAIRO - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday described Israeli claims of Syrian chemical weapons use as unproven “suspicions” and declined to set a timeline for a U.S. assessment of the accusations. Hagel has instructed defense intelligence agencies to investigate allies' reports that the Syrian regime used a sarin-based nerve agent in attacks against rebels March 19, U.S. officials said. Britain and France last week made similar assessments, but Hagel said the United States wouldn't rush to make its own determination despite President Obama's warnings that Syrian chemical weapons use would be a “red line.” “Suspicions are one thing, evidence is another,” Hagel said in Cairo, his latest stop in a weeklong Mideast swing.
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