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Chemical Last updated: July, 2014

Beginning in the early 1980s, Syria made efforts to acquire and maintain an arsenal of chemical weapons. Regional security concerns, and most notably Syria's adversarial relationship with Israel, represent the most likely motivation behind Syria's chemical weapons program.

Specifically, a series of disastrous military defeats to Israel in 1967, 1973, and 1982, followed by the weakening of Arab unity against Israel following the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and Israel's presumed acquisition of nuclear weapons, provided impetus for Syria to pursue a strategic deterrent against the conventional and nuclear Israeli threats. [1] 

Since embarking on a chemical warfare (CW) program in the 1970's, Syria obtained both chemical agents and CW-capable missiles from foreign suppliers, remaining heavily dependent on them for materials and expertise. [2] [3]

Historically, Syria elected not to join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), stating that while it supports a region-wide ban on WMD, it could not unilaterally renounce chemical weapons as long as Israel continued to pose a threat to its security. [4] In fall 2013, Syria joined the CWC. [5] The reversal came amid speculation that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, and calls by the United States for limited air strikes. [6]

On 27 September 2013, the OPCW approved a disarmament plan for Syria's chemical weapons and related infrastructure. [7] As of 23 June, 2014, all of Syria's chemical weapons production facilities have been rendered inoperable and all reported chemical weapons and their precursors have been removed from Syria. [8] On 7 July, 2014, the United States began neutralizing 600 tons of sulfur mustard and DF, a sarin gas precursor aboard the Cape Ray cargo ship. [9] 

History

1972 to 1986: The Israeli Threat and Initial CW Imports
Although the majority of open source information focuses on Syrian offensive, rather than defensive capabilities, defensive CW equipment were among the first CW-related imports purchased by Syria. A major part of the Syrian protective capability consists of military vehicles from the Soviet Union that were usually fitted with chemical protection systems as standard equipment. According to Gordon Burck and Charles Flowerree, the Soviet Union provided Syria with a full range of decontamination equipment in the 1970s and 1980s. [10] Allegedly, personal protective equipment was distributed to individual Syrian soldiers during the same period. Syria is known to have purchased more than 11,000 Chinese MF-11 protective masks; whether this represented a single purchase or a portion of a broader acquisition effort to replace all existing masks remains unknown. [11]

Numerous press and U.S. government sources indicate that Syria first obtained chemical weapons from Egypt on the eve of the attack on Israel in October 1973. [12] Reports that Israeli troops captured stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons support the view that Syrian combat troops received these weapons during the Yom Kippur war. [13] Notably, although Syrian forces suffered severe defeat, at no point did they deploy chemical weapons. Although the lack of access to Syrian personnel or records renders all explanations for this restraint speculative, Syrian-born security analyst M. Zuhair Diab and Israeli military analysts both suggest that Syria may have planned to use its chemical arsenal only in the event of a total military collapse, which never occurred. [14]

Suboptimal military coordination among Syria, Egypt, and Iraq during the 1973 Yom Kippur War revealed fissures in Arab unity against Israel. The 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty deprived Syria of an important military ally against the Israeli threat, and according to M. Zuhair Diab, motivated a pursuit of greater military self-sufficiency. [15] Further, Diab notes that the near-disastrous clashes with Israeli forces during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 exposed Syria's land and air vulnerabilities and further motivated Syria's military to acquire chemical weapons.

Other regional developments may also have motivated Syria's pursuit of a CW capability. Water-sharing conflicts with Turkey over the Euphrates River contributed to tense Syrian-Turkish relations during this period, as did Turkish allegations of Syrian support for the Kurdish independence movement. Syria may also have sought CW as a deterrent against a show of force or as a form of leverage. [16] Perhaps more directly troublesome to Syrian leadership, the Soviet Union chose to support Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, weakening Syria's partnership with the USSR and further isolating Syria. [17] The combination of increasing political isolation and observed military deficiencies vis-à-vis Israel together provided incentives for Syria to develop a self-sufficient CW capability.

1986 to 2011: Building CW Self-Sufficiency
According to Israeli media, Syria began developing an indigenous chemical production capability in 1971 at the Centre D'Etudes et de Recherches Scientifiques (CERS) – a facility in Damascus that today administers Syria's CW program while also contributing directly to research and development efforts. [18] According to Gordon Burck and Charles Flowerree, however, most reports indicate that Syria's CW production capability came online sometime in the mid-1980's. [19] In 1989, CIA Director William Webster testified that Syria had begun producing CW agents in the early 1980's. [20] In 1983, a U.S. Special National Intelligence Estimate first identified a Syrian CW production facility. A 2014 disclosure by the British government revealed that by 1986 Syria had obtained hundreds of tons of precursor chemicals including trimethyl phosphite, dimethyl phosphite and hydrogen fluoride from the UK along with other technology for developing nerve agents such as sarin gas. [21] By the end of 1986, Prime Minister Yitzhaq Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin had all openly stated that Syria was producing nerve agents and delivery systems. [22] By 1990, both media and statements by U.S. officials indicated that Syria had converted several agrochemical factories into sarin production facilities. [23] Reports then appeared alleging that Syria had begun researching the more toxic V-series nerve agents. Throughout the 1990s, reports pointed to continuing work on V-agents but also suggested a lack of success. [24] While the CIA never publicly committed to the view that Syria possessed VX, 721 reports in the 1990s claimed either that Syria "may be trying to develop more potent nerve agents," or that it "apparently tried to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents." [25]

Signaling growing official concern over Syria's burgeoning CW production capability, in June of 1986 the Reagan Administration banned the sale of sarin and mustard precursors to Syria. [26] However, by the early 1990's numerous reports of illicit trade began to emerge. In 1996 Russian authorities charged retired Lieutenant General Anatoliy Kuntsevich with shipping 800-kilograms of precursor chemicals to Syria. [27] Although these charges were eventually dropped, Israeli press reported that Kuntsevich later admitted to the transfer of nerve agent precursors. [28] It later emerged that Kuntsevich and Syria first agreed to collaborate on the transfer of equipment and materials to Syria in 1992. [29] By 1997, both U.S. and Israeli sources claimed that Syria's CW program, under the administration of CERS, included production facilities in Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo and could produce sarin, mustard, and potentially VX. [30]

Despite Syria's ongoing development of its chemical weapons capability, there had been no confirmed incidences of combat use. [31] In 1982, Amnesty International charged that the Syrian government had used cyanide gas against a Moslem Brotherhood uprising in Hama. [32] The report, which could not be further substantiated, alleges that Syrian troops connected rubber piping to chemical gas tanks and pumped these substances into buildings.

The regional security trends that drove Syria's CW program – namely, counter-balancing Israel's growing conventional warfare capabilities amid increasing military isolation – continued throughout the next decade. During the 1980s and 1990s, Israel's military superiority over Syria increased, leaving Syria increasingly vulnerable. The distancing of Syria from its Soviet patron in the mid-1980s—combined with the all too apparent inadequacies of Soviet-supplied equipment—required Syria to seek an equalizer. While the overall objective of projecting a capability to inflict unacceptable losses on Israel's military and civilian population remained, Syria also likely recognized the careful balancing act of maintaining a credible threat without provoking an Israeli attack. In this regard, Syria likely found it advantageous to adopt an opaque chemical weapons policy, not unlike Israel's nuclear policy, in which it neither confirms nor denies the existence of chemical weapons even as it continues to deploy and improve them.

Syria built its CW program off foreign support and has been a voracious importer of CW materials, technologies, and expertise. Due to Syria's relative isolation from the international community the capacity of Syria's indigenous capability built during this period remains unknown. Open source reports generally do not include sufficient details about Syrian CW imports to further characterize any changes or trends in Syria's import activities. However, the overall scale of Syrian CW imports in this era declined when compared to that of the early 1980s. [33]

From 2002 to 2006, reports from the U.S. Director of Central Intelligence repeated that "Damascus already held a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, but apparently tried to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents." [34] The 2009 and 2010 versions of this report repeated a similar line, that Syria "has had a CW program for many years and already has a stockpile of CW agents" and that "Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its CW program, including precursor chemicals." [35]

Relatively few open source reports of Syrian tests on CW agents or delivery systems emerged during this time. [36] The most recent publicly described test, a Syrian missile test in July 2001, probably involved the use of a simulated chemical warhead. [37] Since that time, Syria's CW program has maintained a very low profile, although Jane's Defense has continued to report on foreign support for the development of chemical warheads for Scud missiles and other delivery systems. [38] In 2005, Jane's began publishing claims that Syria was engaged in efforts, assisted by the Iranian government, to expand its capability to produce precursors. [39] In early 2009, Jane's published assertions to the effect that Syria was modernizing and expanding its Al-Safira facility, basing these claims in part on satellite photography, and in part on information from confidential sources. [40]

Recent Developments and Current Status

The outbreak of civil unrest in late 2011 raised questions about both the security of Syria's chemical weapons sites and the potential use or transfer of the weapons. On 23 July 2012 Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi stated that Syria would never use "any chemical and biological weapons . . . .inside Syria," that the Syrian army was storing "all stocks of these weapons" securely, and that such weapons would only be used in the event of "external aggression." [41] In subsequent Twitter exchanges, he tried to walk back this apparent acknowledgement of Syria's possession of chemical and biological weapons, something Syria had previously denied. [42]

As the conflict intensified, the international community became increasingly concerned that Syrian President Assad might use chemical weapons amid Syria's deteriorating situation and rebel gains. On 20 August 2012, President Obama warned, "a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized." [43] Several days later UK Prime Minister David Cameron underscored President Obama's remark that the threat or use of chemical weapons by President Assad's regime would warrant a revised approach, alluding to military intervention. [44] The newly elected President of France, François Hollande, took the podium at the United Nations 67th General Assembly to let the Assad government know, "that the international community will not stand aside if they were to use chemical weapons." [45]

Between late November and early December 2012, Western intelligence agencies obtained clear evidence that Syrian government units were preparing chemical weapons for potential use. At one base, soldiers were observed to be mixing precursor chemicals and taking other steps to make the chemical weapons battlefield ready. Surveillance photos further confirmed another army unit loading chemical weapons onto special military transport vehicles. [46] These actions prompted President Obama to warn Syria again on 3 December 2012 that "the use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable… [and] there will be consequences and you will be held accountable." [47] Shortly afterwards Syrian forces appeared to have ceased chemical weapons preparations, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta attributed the halt of Syrian chemical weapons activities to President Obama's warning. [48]

On 19 March 2013, allegations arose concerning a chemical weapons attack in the village of Khan al-Assal in the Aleppo province. According to the Assad regime, a rocket spewing a toxic gas in Khan al-Assal caused 26 fatalities and more than 100 injuries. Both the Assad regime and Syrian rebels denied responsibility for the alleged attack. [49] At the request of the Syrian Government, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appointed Åke Sellström on 27 March 2013 to head a fact-finding mission to investigate the incident. Sellström said that following mission preparation, the team would spend three to four days for inspection, and two to three weeks to write its report and conduct chemical analysis. [50] Despite the inspection team's preparations, the Assad Government denied the team entrance into Syria. The denial of access came amid calls by the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Japan to increase the scope of the inspections to include allegations of chemical weapons use in Homs, Damascus, and Aleppo. [51]

On 19 April 2013, the United Kingdom and France announced they had "hard evidence" of chemical weapons use in at least one case. [52] On 23 April 2013 Israeli Brigadier General Itai Brun asserted sarin had been used "in a number of incidents" in Syria, based on photographs of victims foaming at the mouth and with constricted pupils and other unspecified symptoms. [53] Then, on 25 April 2013, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated that the "U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin." The basis for Western governments' assessments remains unclear, as it would presumably be very challenging to maintain chain of custody over collection and handling of any soil or other physiological evidence. [54] However, on 13 June 2013, Benjamin J. Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security adviser, announced that the White House would extend military support to the Syrian opposition because there was a "high certainty" Assad's forces had used chemical weapons. The White House did not clarify what the military support would encompass, but indicated the operation would be undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency due to the legal restraints of supplying arms without UN approval to groups attacking another government. [55] [56] As for humanitarian assistance, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman confirmed U.S. aid included protective equipment, medical treatment, and training for medical personnel as a means of protection and response to the use of chemical weapons. [57]

Countering the West's assertions on 9 July 2013, Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, said Russian inspectors visited the Khan al-Assal site, gathered samples for testing in an OPCW certified lab, and discerned the "Bashair-3 unguided projectile" was fired by the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade, an affiliate of the Free Syrian Army. [58] Churkin's claims reinforced the West's allegations that chemical weapons were used in Syria, but only added speculation as to who was responsible. On 31 July 2013, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed that the Assad government had agreed to allow the UN chemical weapons inspector team into the country for the first time to examine three sites of alleged chemical weapons use, including Khan al-Assal. [59]

The morning of 21 August 2013, during the UN chemical weapons inspection team's visit, new video footage emerged of an apparent chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, just outside of Damascus. According to initial reports and video footage, the attack involved an organized strike over a large area that utilized rockets as dispersal mechanisms. Hospitals and make-shift medical centers reported patients suffering from convulsions, immobilization, breathing difficulties, dilated pupils, cold limbs, and foaming from the mouth. Estimates of the death toll vary greatly but generally place the numbers of dead somewhere between hundreds to more than a thousand. [60] Doctors Without Borders reported that three hospitals within its network confirmed 355 people died and approximately 3,600 displayed symptoms of neurotoxic symptoms, while a U.S. government assessment placed the number of dead at 1,429. [61] The Syrian government eventually granted the UN inspection team access to areas of Ghouta (after stalling for five days), in lieu of the team visiting the originally planned three sites. [62]

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the United States, citing Syrian chemical weapons brigades' actions and communications, tried to rally support to conduct limited military strikes against Assad's forces. However, the international coalition supporting military action was reduced to the United States and France after the British House of Commons rejected a proposal by Prime Minister Cameron to authorize military operations. At the G-20 Summit, President Obama tried to rally the other economic powers of the world to take action against Syria. On 6 September 2013, 11 countries released a joint statement calling "for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world's rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated." [63] However, President Obama was unable to convince President Putin to commit Russia to taking action against Syria, maintaining deadlock among the UN Security Council members.

As the U.S. Congress prepared to vote on whether to attack Syria, on 10 September 2013 Syria agreed, following Russian urging, to put its chemical weapons stockpile under international control for eventual destruction, and committed to joining the Chemical Weapons Convention. On 14 September, Russia and the United States reached a deal on a framework to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons. [64] [65] The framework called for Syria to submit a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons within one week; for inspectors to return to Syria by November 2013; and for the destruction of all chemical weapons by mid-2014. [66] On 21-22 September, Syria met its obligation by providing two lists of its chemical weapons. [67] The United States responded that the list was "more comprehensive than anticipated," and Russia and the United States began negotiating text to provide a framework for a UN resolution. [68] [69] [70]

On 16 September 2013, the United Nations released its much-anticipated report, stating that the UN had "clear and convincing," evidence that sarin gas was used in the 21 August attacks outside of Damascus. [71] Subsequently, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the evidence was "overwhelming and indisputable," that sarin was used. [72] While the report did not attribute responsibility to either party in the civil war, report details, such as the use of M-14 and 330m rocket artillery, and the estimated trajectories, suggest that the Assad regime was responsible for the attacks, as the rebels do not possess the rockets used. [73] While the United States, the United Kingdom, and France accepted the UN report as confirmation of the Assad regime's role in the attacks, Russia stated that the report was "distorted" and "one-sided," and maintains that the Assad regime did not conduct the attacks. [74] On 25 September, UN weapons inspectors returned to Syria to continue to investigate the use of chemical weapons in the civil war. [75] The UN team expanded the investigation to include additional sites where chemical weapons were allegedly used. [76]

On 27 September 2013, the OPCW adopted a decision on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. [77] The decision, recognizing the joint Russia-US framework, calls for the destruction of all chemical weapons production and mixing facilities by 1 November 2013, and the destruction of all chemical weapons by mid2014. [78] As part of the decision, a team of 20 experts arrived in Damascus on 30 September to "initiate inspections pursuant to [the] decision." [79]

Following the OPCW decision, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on Syria. Resolution 2118 called for consequences should Syria fail to fulfill its obligations; however, the resolution was not written under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and any use of force against Syria would require an additional resolution. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that the United Nations "will stand ready to take action under Chapter VII of the charter," should Syria renege on its obligations. [80]

On 12 October, the UN and the OPCW approved a Joint Mission to oversee the dismantling and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal and infrastructure. [81] The Joint Mission serves to monitor and verify Syria's compliance with UNSC Resolution 2118; however, its mandate does not include participation in the destruction process for which the Syrian government is responsible. [82]

On 14 October 2013, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force for Syria. [83] On 31 October, the OPCW announced that Syria had met the Phase I deadline of eliminating all production and mixing capabilities. [84] Phase II, the elimination of all chemical weapons, began on 1 November. [85]

According to the OPCW's initial findings, the Syrian arsenal includes 1,000 metric tons of Category I chemical weapons, 290 tons of Category II chemicals, and 1,230 Category III unfilled delivery systems such as rockets. [86] The OPCW's findings are in line with Syria's chemical weapons declaration.

The OPCW stated that it would not be possible to destroy Syria's entire arsenal on Syrian territory. [87] Russia, Jordan, Turkey, Norway and Albania all rejected requests to destroy weapons on their territory. [88] [89] [90] Denmark and Norway announced that they would aid in the transportation by sea of chemical weapons out of Syria to a destruction location. [91] [92]

According to Reuters the United States and Russia submitted a draft document to the OPCW outlining a timetable calling the destruction of all Syria's chemical weapons by 30 December 2014, six months later than the initial deadline of June 2014. [93] On 15 November 2013, the OPCW released a detailed timetable for the destruction process. The OPCW plan maintained a June 2014 deadline for the destruction of all chemical weapons, and stated that all chemicals except for isopropanol will be destroyed outside of Syria. [94] While the OPCW was optimistic about meeting the June deadline despite the many challenges, a 23 May 2014 letter from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to the UN Security Council stated that, "it is now evident that some activities related to the elimination of the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic will continue beyond 30 June 2014." [95]  Ban Ki-Moon cited as reasons for his more pessimistic view the approximately 100 tons of chemical weapons still in the country, the continued existence of one storage facility, and the fact that 13 chemical weapons productions facilities still stood (the equipment itself was destroyed in 2013). [96]

The current plan for destruction of Syria's chemical weapons consists of deploying a U.S. cargo ship equipped with a hydrolysis system to the Mediterranean Sea. [97] The ship will receive shipments of Syrian chemical weapons in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro after their delivery by Danish and Norwegian ships from the Syrian port of Latakia. [98] The OPCW has issued contracts to companies in Finland and the United States for the disposal of some of the chemical precursors. [99] There have been delays in the full execution of this plan as Syria has missed two deadlines for handing over its chemical stockpile. [100] Nonetheless, as of 23 June, 2014, all of Syria's reported chemical weapons have been removed from the country and all of Syria's chemical weapons production facilities have been rendered inoperable. [101] On 7 July, 2014, the United States began neutralizing 600 tons of sulfur mustard and DF, a sarin gas precursor aboard the Cape Ray cargo ship. [102] An additional 200 tons of various chemical precursors will be sent to the UK for destruction. [103]

The international community remains optimistic that Syria will live up to the Russia-U.S. framework. However, experts warn that Assad may manipulate the CWC process to maintain some parts of his chemical weapons program. For example, Amy Smithson of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) wrote that, "Syria could keep inspectors away from certain areas of production facilities if it declares to the OPCW that those sites have nothing to do with chemical weapons." [104] Zachary Kallenborn and Raymond Zilinskas of CNS add that, “lessons from the Iraq and Libyan cases suggest that while verifying the correctness of a state's declarations is feasible, it is only possible for inspectors to have a limited degree of certainty in assessing the completeness of state declarations. As such, there is some risk, as occurred in the Libyan case, that the regime could successfully retain a secret CW capability.” [105]

Although the United States initially applauded the comprehensiveness of Syria's declaration of its arsenal, it too remains skeptical of its accuracy and the Assad regime's intentions. [106] Citing U.S. intelligence suggesting Syria may try to hide some of its chemical weapons, U.S. envoy to the United Nations Samantha Powers stated, "We are still reviewing [the declaration] we obviously bring skepticism born of years of dealing with this regime, years of obfuscation in other contexts, and of course a lot of broken promises in the context of this current war." [107]

These concerns have become especially salient in light of a video posted online by opposition activists that appears to show chlorine gas floating in the village of Kfar Zeita in Hama province. [108] In response to this and other allegations of chlorine use, the OPCW has opened an investigation into the use of chlorine. [109] Initial findings have supported these accusations, finding that chlorine gas was used in a "systematic manner" throughout the year. [110] Although chlorine is not a restricted chemical under the CWC and was therefore not removed from Syria following the agreement between the United States and Russia, the CWC nonetheless bans the use of any chemical in warfare. [111] 

Sources:
[1] M. Zuhair Diab, "Syria's Chemical and Biological Weapons: Assessing Capabilities and Motivations," The Nonproliferation Review 5 (Fall 1997), p. 107.
[2] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 213.
[3] Robin Hughes, "Iran aids Syria's CW Programme," Jane's Defense Weekly, 21 October 2005, www.janes.com; Robin Hughes, "Iran and Syria sign mutual assistance accord," Jane's Defense Weekly, 21 December 2005, www.janes.com; Bhupendra Jasani, "Chemical romance - Syria's unconventional affair develops," Jane's Intelligence Review, 17 February 2009, www.janes.com.
[4] Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Non-Member States," About OPCW, www.opcw.org, 9 December 2011; and Daniel Williams, "Syria-EU Trade Deal Stalls Over Chemical Weapons Issue," The Washington Post, 8 April 2004, p. A18.
[5] "OPCW to Review Request from Syria," Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 13 September 2013, www.opcw.org; Executive Council, "Decision: Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons," Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 27 September 2013, www.opcw.org.
[6] Executive Council, "Decision: Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons," Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 27 September 2013, www.opcw.org.
[7] Executive Council, "Decision: Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons," Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 27 September 2013, www.opcw.org.
[8] "Syria Chemical Weapons Facilities 'Destroyed'," Al-Jazeera, 1 November 2013; Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Announcement to Media on Last Consignment of Chemicals Leaving Syria," OPCW News, 23 June, 2014, www.opcw.org.
[9] Jim Garamone, "Cape Ray Begins Neutralizing Syrian Chemical Materials," DoD News (Washington), 7 July 2014, www.defense.gov.
[10] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 215.
[11] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 215.
[12] W. Seth Carus, "Chemical Weapons in the Middle East," Research Memorandum No. 9 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy), 1988; and Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 213.
[13] Statement in U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Bobbi Fielder (California), Congressional Record, Daily Edition, 17 May 1984, p. H4088.
[14] M. Zuhair Diab, "Syria's Chemical and Biological Weapons: Assessing Capabilities and Motivations," The Nonproliferation Review 5 (Fall 1997), p. 104; and "Israeli alarm at Syrian gas warhead," Times (London), 11 January 1988.
[15] M. Zuhair Diab, "Syria's Chemical and Biological Weapons: Assessing Capabilities and Motivations," The Nonproliferation Review 5 (Fall 1997), p. 104.
[16] M. Zuhair Diab, "Syria's Chemical and Biological Weapons: Assessing Capabilities and Motivations," The Nonproliferation Review 5 (Fall 1997), p. 107.
[17] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 208.
[18] David Eshel, "Syria's Chemical Weapons Proliferation Hydra," Defense Update News Analysis, 23 September 2007, www.defense-update.com, accessed 11 December 2011; and E.J. Hogendoorn, "A Chemical Weapons Atlas," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 53, No. 5 (September/October 1997), pp. 35-39.
[19] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 210.
[20] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 211.
[21] Macarthur DeZchazer, Sr., Chemical Weapons Proliferation in the Middle East: What is the Proper Response? (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College), 9 April 1990, p. 10; Nicholas Winning, "Syria Used Chemicals Supplied by U.K. Firms to Make Nerve Agents," Wall Street Journal (London), 9 July 2014, online.wsj.com.
[22] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 210.
[23] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 212-213.
[24] Bill Gertz, "North Korean Scuds added to Syrian arsenal," Washington Times, 13 March 1991, p. 3; "Syria's Secret Poison Gas Plants," Jane's Foreign Report, 10 September 1992, www.janes.com; "Israeli claims that Syria is making VX nerve gas," Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 May 1997, p. 6, www.janes.com; Steve Rodan and Andrew Koch, "Israel warns of Syria's work on CW-tipped Scuds," Jane's Defence Weekly, 12 December 2001, www.janes.com.
[25] Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2007, (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, 2008), www.cia.gov; Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, January - June 1998, (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, 1998), www.cia.gov.
[26] Bernard Gwertzman, "U.S. Includes Syria in Chemicals Ban," The New York Times, 6 June 1986, Section A, p. 11.
[27] Marion Blackburn, "Russia Suspected of Aiding Syria in Acquiring Stock of Chemical Weapons," Prague Post, 27 November 1996.
[28] Daniel Leshem, "Syria's deadly secret," The Jerusalem Post, 6 May 1997.
[29] Jonathan Tucker, War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to al-Qaeda, (New York, New York: Panthen, 2006) p. 324.
[30] Dany Shoham, "Chemical and Biological Weapons in Syria," in Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, Shawn Pine, Mordechai Nisan and Dany Shoham, Peace with Syria: No Margin for Error (Shaarei Tikva: ACPR Publications, 2000), pp. 73-109.
[31] Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 209.
[32] Amnesty International, Report from Amnesty International to the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, (London; Amnesty International Publications, 1983).
[33] John J. Fialka, "Fighting Dirty: Western Industry Sells Third World the Means to Produce Poison Gas," Wall Street Journal, 16 September 1988, p. 1.
[34] Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the period 1 January to 30 June 2002, (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2002), p. 4, www.dni.gov; and Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2006, (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2008), p. 6, www.dni.gov.
[35] Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2009, (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2009), p. 7, www.dni.gov; and Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2010, (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2010), p. 7, www.dni.gov.
[36] This could be attributed to the lack of open access to intelligence about Syrian CW tests, the inability to detect Syrian CW tests, or a decline in Syrian CW testing activity.
[37] David C. Isby, "Syrian Scud carried a simulated chemical warhead," Jane's Missiles and Rockets, 1 September 2001, www.janes.com.
[38] Robin Hughes, "Explosion aborts CW project run by Iran and Syria," Jane's Defense Weekly, 26 September 2007, (first posted on the Jane's website on 17 September 2007).
[39] Robin Hughes, "Iran Aids Syria's CW Programme," Jane's Defense Weekly, 21 October 2005 and Robin Hughes, "Iran and Syria Sign Mutual Assistance Accord," Jane's Defense Weekly, 21 December 2005, www.janes.com.
[40] Bhupendra Jasani, "Chemical Romance - Syria's Unconventional Affair Develops, Jane's Intelligence Review, 17 February 2009, www.janes.com.
[41] Jihad Makdissi, "Press Conference by Dr. Jihad Makdissi," Syrian TV Official, 23 July 2012, www.youtube.com.
[42] Jihad Makdissi, Twitter Post, 23 July 2012, 7:08 AM, https://twitter.com/Makdissi.
[43] James Ball, "Obama issues Syria a ‘red line' warning on chemical weapons," Washington Post, 20 August 2012, www.washingtonpost.com.
[44] Nicholas Watt, "Cameron echoes Obama's warning to Syria over chemical weapons," The Guardian, 22 August 2012, www.guardian.co.uk.
[45] "France calls on UN to give Syrians all the support they request against Assad," UN News Centre, United Nations, 25 September 2012, www.un.org.
[46] Joby Warrick, "Intelligence on Syrian troops readying chemical weapons for use prompted Obama's warning," The Washington Post, 14 December 2012, www.washingtonpost.com.
[47] Amy Gardner, "Obama hails progress on loose nukes, warns of chemical weapons risk in Syria," The Washington Post, 03 December 2012, www.washingtonpost.com.
[48] Joby Warrick, "Intelligence on Syrian troops readying chemical weapons for use prompted Obama's warning," The Washington Post, 14 December 2012, www.washingtonpost.com.
[49] "UN to Probe Syrian Chemical Arms Strike Claim," Global Security Newswire, Nuclear Threat Initiative, 21 March 2013, www.nti.org.
[50] "Head of UN probe into chemical weapons use in Syria says preparatory work has begun," UN News Centre, United Nations, 27 March 2013, www.un.org.
[51] Ken Dilanian and Paul Richter, "Britain and France suggest possible chemical weapons use by Syria," Los Angeles Times, 18 April 2013, www.latimes.com.
[52] Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, "U.S. Probes New Syria Weapons Allegations," The Wall Street Journal, 19 April 2013, www.wsj.com.
[53] "Syria has used chemical weapons, Israeli military says," BBC News, 23 April 2013, www.bbc.co.uk.
[54] Judy Woodruff, "U.S. Believes Syrian Regime Has Used Chemical Weapons, Waits for Confirmation," PBS Newshour, 25 April 2013, www.pbs.org.
[55] Karen DeYong and Anne Gearan, "U.S., citing use of chemical weapons by Syria, to provide direct military support to rebels," The Washington Post, 13 June 2013, www.washingtonpost.com.
[56] Colum Lynch and Joby Warrick, "In Syrian chemical weapons claim, criticism about lack of transparency," The Washington Post, 20 June 2013, www.washingtonpost.com.
[57] Elaine Grossman, "Q&A: Envoy Says Saudi Nuclear Pact 'Would Not' Lead to Weapons," Global Security Newswire, 29 July 2013, www.nti.org.
[58] "Russia claims Syria rebels used sarin at Khan al-Assal," BBC News, 9 July 2013, www.bbc.co.uk.
[59] Sangwon Yoon, "Syria's Assad Agrees to UN Chemical Weapons Investigation," Bloomberg, 31 July 2013, www.bloomberg.com.
[60] Loveday Morris and Ahmed Ramadan, "Syrian activists accuse government of deadly chemical attack near Damascus," The Washington Post, 21 August 2013, www.washingtonpost.com.
[61] "Syria: Thousands Suffering Neurotoxic Symptoms Treated in Hospitals Supported by MSF," Doctors Without Borders, 24 August 2013, www.doctorswithoutborders.org; "Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013," The White House, 30 August 2013, www.whitehouse.gov.
[62] Tucker Reals, "Syria chemical weapons attack blamed on Assad, but where's the evidence?" CBS News, 29 August 2013, www.cbsnews.com.
[63] "Joint Statement on Syria," The White House, 6 September 2013, www.whitehouse.gov.
[64] Anne Gearan, Will Englund and Debbi Wilgoren, "Kerry demands Syria keep pledge to give up chemical weapons," The Washington Post, 12 September 2013, www.washingtonpost.com.
[65] "Syria crisis: Tense US-Russia talks on chemicals deal," BBC News, 12 September 2013, www.bbc.co.uk.
[66] Laura Smith-Spark and Tom Cohen, "U.S., Russia agree to framework on Syria chemical weapons," CNN, 15 September 2013, www.cnn.com.
[67] "Syria submits chemical arms data to watchdog," Al-Jazeera, 21 September 2013, www.aljazeera.com; Karen DeYoung and Colum Lynch, "Syria submits further details of chemical weapons to monitoring group," Washington Post, 21 September 2013, www.washingtonpost.com.
[68] Tom Watkins and Hamdi Alkhshali, "U.S. official: Syrian CW list more complete than anticipated," CNN, 21 September 2013, www.cnn.com.
[69] "Russia says talks with U.S. on Syria chemical weapons resolution ‘not going smoothly'," CBS News, 24 September 2013, www.cbsnews.com.
[70] John Irish and Louis Charbonneau, "Western envoys tout deal on core of Syria draft; Russia denies," Reuters, 25 September 2013, www.reuters.com.
[71] United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, "Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013," United Nations, 16 September 2013, www.un.org.
[72] Josh Levs and Holly Yan, "War crime': U.N. finds sarin used in Syria chemical weapons attack," CNN, 16 September 2013, www.cnn.com.
[73] United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, "Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013," United Nations, 16 September 2013, www.un.org.
[74] Steven Lee Myers and Rick Gladstone, "Russia Calls U.N. Chemical Report on Syria Biased," International Herald Tribune, 18 September 2013, www.nytimes.com.
[75] "U.N. Chemical-Arms Inspectors Return to Syria," Global Security Newswire, 25 September 2013, www.nti.org.
[76] Kathy Lally, "U.N. chemical weapons investigators to return to Syria Wednesday," Washington Post, 24 September 2013, www.washingtonpost.com.
[77] Executive Council, "Decision: Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons," Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 27 September 2013, www.opcw.org.
[78] Executive Council, "Decision: Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons," Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 27 September 2013, www.opcw.org.
[79] "Chemical-Arms Watchdog Team Departs for Syria," Global Security Newswire, 30 September 2013, www.nti.org.
[80] John Irish and Michelle Nichols, "U.N. Security Council demands elimination of Syria chemical arms," Reuters, 28 September 2013, www.reuters.com.
[81] United Nations, "Security Council approves joint OPCW-UN mission to oversee destruction of Syria's Chemical weapons," UN News Centre, 11 October 2013, www.un.org.
[82] United Nations, "Security Council approves joint OPCW-UN mission to oversee destruction of Syria's Chemical weapons," UN News Centre, 11 October 2013, www.un.org.
[83] Organiztion for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Syria's Accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention Enters into Force," 14 October 2013, www.opcw.org.
[84] United Nations, "Syria meets deadline, renders chemical weapons facilities 'inoperable' – OPCW-UN mission," UN News Centre, 31 October 2013, www.un.org.
[85] Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Mission Update-5," OPCW-UN Mission Update, 6 November 2013, www.opcw.org.
[86] Richard Spencer, "Syria: inspectors find 1,300 tons of chemical weapons," Telegraph, 29 October 2013, www.telegraph.co.uk.
[87] Elena Chernenko, "No Country For Bad Weapons: Who Will Destroy Syria's Chemical Arsenal?," World Crunch, 18 October 2013, www.worldcrunch.com.
[88] Elena Chernenko, "No Country For Bad Weapons: Who Will Destroy Syria's Chemical Arsenal?," World Crunch, 18 October 2013, www.worldcrunch.com.
[89] "Norway rejects U.S. request to destroy Syrian chemical arms," Reuters, 25 October 2013, www.reuters.com.
[90] "Albania Rejects Request to Host Syrian Chemical-Weapons Destruction," Global Security Newswire, 15 November 2013, www.nti.org.
[91] "Syria's Chemical Weapons May Be Transported by Denmark," Huffington Post, 8 November 2013, www.huffingtonpost.com.
[92] "Norway Sending Troops, Shkps to Help Remove Syrian Chemical Arms," Global Security Newswire, 14 November 2013, www.nti.org.
[93] "Draft Syria Disarmament Plan Misses Mid-2014 Deadline," Global Security Newswire, 8 November 2013, www.nti.org.
[94] Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "OPCW Executive Council Adopts plan for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014," OPCW News, 15 November 2013, www.opcw.org.
[95] Associated Press, "Syria Chemical Destruction Deadline Still Possible," U~T San Diego, 10 April, 2014, www.utsandiego.com; Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "OPCW Executive Council Adopts plan for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014," OPCW News, 15 November 2013, www.opcw.org; Rick Gladstone, "Syria to Miss Deadline on Weapons, Official Says," New York Times, 28 May, 2014. www.nytimes.com.
[96] Rick Gladstone, "Syria to Miss Deadline on Weapons, Official Says," New York Times, 28 May, 2014, www.nytimes.com.
[97] Mike Morones, "US Ship Heads Out to Destroy Syrian Chemical Weapons," Defense News (Washington), 28 January 2014, www.defensenews.com.
[98] Lolita C. Baldor, "US Ship En Route to Destroy Syrian Chemical Weapons," distributed by The Times of Israel, Associated Press (Washington), 28 Janurary 2014, www.timesofisrael.com.
[99] "OPCW Awards Contracts to Two Companies for Destruction of Syrian Chemicals and Effluents," Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, 14 February 2014, www.opcw.org.
[100] Anthony Deutsch, "Syrian Chemical Weapons Stalling Tests Limits of U.S.-Russia Deal," Reuters (The Hague), 9 February 2014, www.reuters.com.
[101] "Syria Chemical Weapons Facilities 'Destroyed'," Al-Jazeera, 1 November 2013; Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "Announcement to Media on Last Consignment of Chemicals Leaving Syria," OPCW News, 23 June, 2014, www.opcw.org.
[102] Jim Garamone, "Cape Ray Begins Neutralizing Syrian Chemical Materials," DoD News (Washington), 7 July 2014, www.defense.gov.
[103] "UK to Destroy More Syria Chemical Weapons," Al-Jazeera, 9 July 2014, www.aljazeera.com.
[104] Amy Smithson, "A Phony Farewell to Arms," Foreign Affairs, 1 October 2013, www.foreignaffairs.com.
[105] Zachary Kallenborn and Raymond Zilinskas, "Disarming Syria of Its Chemical Weapons: Lessons Learned from Iraq and Libya," Nuclear Threat Initiative, 31 October 2013, www.nti.org.
[106] "U.S. Skeptical of Syria chemical arms declaration: U.N. envoy," Reuters, 5 November 2013, www.reuters.com.
[107] "U.S. Skeptical of Syria chemical arms declaration: U.N. envoy," Reuters, 5 November 2013, www.reuters.com.
[108] Oliver Holmes, "Syria Video Shows Chlorine Gas Floating in Streets: Activists," Reuters (Beirut), 23 May, 2014, www.reuters.com.
[109] Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "OPCW to Undertake Fact-Finding Mission in Syria on Alleged Chlorine Gas Attacks," OPCW News, 29 April 2014, www.opcw.org.
[110] Anne Gearan, "Syria Probably Used Chlorine Gas in Attacks This Year, Weapons Inspectors Say," Washington Post, 18 June 2014, www.washingtonpost.com.
[111] Rick Gladstone, "Claims of Chlorine-Filled Bombs Overshadow Progress by Syria on Chemical Weapons," New York Times, 22 April 2014.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

Get the Facts on Syria

  • Found in noncompliance with its international safeguards obligations by the IAEA in June 2011
  • Refuses to renounce its chemical weapons program until Israel abandons its nuclear weapons
  • Received assistance from Russia, China, the DPRK and Iran for its ballistic missile program