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U.S. Might be Unable to Secure All Syrian Chem Stocks: Dempsey

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. military official on Wednesday said he is not fully confident that armed intervention could secure Syria's entire chemical arsenal.

"They’ve been moving it and the number of sites is quite numerous,” U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee in afternoon testimony.

Dempsey's warning echoed cautionary remarks issued last week by National Intelligence Director James Clapper. Syrian President Bashar Assad's embattled government is widely believed to hold hundreds of tons of blister and nerve agents.

“If we had confidence [that] the opposition ... could secure [Syria's chemical stockpile], then we could secure it," Dempsey said.

He added, though, that Syrian opposition forces have opposed any foreign military intervention in the country.

"If we had to go in there, it would be nonpermissive," Dempsey said.

Separately, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon "is funding over $70 million for activities in Jordan, including providing training and equipment to detect and stop any [chemical weapons] transfer along its border with Syria."

NTI Analysis

  • Disarming Syria of Its Chemical Weapons: Lessons Learned from Iraq and Libya

    Oct. 31, 2013

    This CNS issue brief examines the lessons learned from dismantling Libya and Iraq's chemical weapons programs and what these two cases presage for disarmament in Syria. In particular, this article explores the challenges relating to ensuring material and physical security for both inspectors and the chemical weapons stockpile itself; verifying the accuracy and completeness of disclosed inventories; and developing effective monitoring and verification regimes for the long-term. The conclusion examines recommendations stemming from this analysis.

Country Profile

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Syria

This article provides an overview of Syria's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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