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

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

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Zachary Kallenborn

Graduate Research Assistant, The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Raymond A. Zilinskas

Director, Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program, The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

M55 rocket filled with GB (Sarin) gas being destroyed, Wikimedia Commons

On August 21, 2013, chemical weapons were used in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria. 1,429 people died, including 426 children. [1] As gruesome video footage of the victims' suffering circulated worldwide, heated debate over how the international community should respond ensued. Most agreed that the Syrian regime should not be able to use chemical weapons, in violation of international law, with impunity. For some, prominently including the U.S. and French governments, the appropriate response appeared to be the use of force. President Obama announced his administration's intent to use limited air strikes to deter further chemical weapons use, and to damage the regime's capabilities to perpetrate such attacks. Other countries, including Russia and China, strongly opposed military action, advocating a diplomatic solution.

Last minute diplomacy between the Russian and Syrian governments, paired with U.S.-Russian negotiation of mutually acceptable terms, yielded a September 14, 2013 framework "…for ensuring the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic's chemical weapons program in the soonest and safest manner." [2,3] The United States and Russia agreed to develop procedures for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, and to exchange intelligence information on the quantity, types, and locations of Syrian chemical weapons and precursors. [4,5] The United Nations Security Council endorsed this framework through unanimous adoption of UNSCR 2118 (2013) on September 27, which mandates the complete"…elimination of all [of Syria's] chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014." [6] As part of this process, Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) entered Syria on October 1 for the purpose of commencing the implementation of UNSCR 2118's provisions. [7]

This issue brief examines the challenges that the OPCW and the international community are likely to face dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare (CW) program by drawing lessons from two previous international efforts to eliminate national CW programs: Iraq and Libya. International inspectors accomplished key CW disarmament objectives in both cases-fully in Iraq and partially in Libya. The issue brief examines lessons learned from these cases for Syrian disarmament in the areas of (1) ensuring physical security of foreign personnel and chemical weapons materials; (2) verifying the correctness and completeness of state CW declarations; and (3) long-term monitoring and verification.

Background on the Iraq and Libya Cases


After the successful completion of Operation Desert Storm in February 1991, the UN Security Council adopted UNSCR 687 (1991), conditioning the cease-fire and eventual lifting of sanctions on destruction of Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons capabilities. [8] Iraq was ordered to provide all information on each of its NBC programs in so-called Full, Final, and Complete Declarations (FFCDs). The resolution established the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) as the primary body responsible for verifying the accuracy and completeness of the FFCDs, ensuring the implementation of the non-nuclear aspects of the resolution, and assisting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with addressing nuclear issues. Over the next seven years, UNSCOM would conduct extensive inspections in Iraq to determine the origins and nature of Iraq's chemical weapons programs, and to destroy the chemical stockpile and related facilities. On December 16, 1998, UNSCOM inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq due to impending U.S. air strikes; however, by then, they had overseen the complete destruction of Iraq's chemical stockpile, including all known chemical weapons and related facilities.


In 1992, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Libya following its involvement in the downing of two passenger planes. In late 2003, the Libyan government sought to rejoin the international community by taking a series of steps including terminating its chemical and nuclear weapons programs. [9] Libya acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention in June 2004, at which time it agreed to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons and precursors. With assistance from the U.S., U.K, and OPCW, by 2011 54% of Libya's declared stockpile of mustard and 40% of its precursor chemicals had been destroyed. [10] However, that same year, the destruction facility malfunctioned. As a consequence of the civil war that also broke out in Libya in 2011, the destruction of Libya's stockpile ceased, and as of October 2013 had not restarted. [11]

Lessons from Iraq and Libya

Ensuring Physical Security of Foreign Personnel and Chemical Weapons Materials

Both the Iraq and Libya cases offer lessons for the Syrian case on the requisite security conditions for a successful disarmament process. Iraq highlights the need to provide adequate in-country security for foreign personnel involved in the inspection and disarmament process. Violence and threats of violence against inspectors were serious concerns during Iraqi disarmament, but pose an even greater threat to successful disarmament in the Syrian case due to the ongoing civil war.

The Libyan case parallels the Syrian case in terms of some of the probable challenges to material security. Ensuring against theft or unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons and related materials during the lengthy disarmament process has been challenging in the Libyan case, and will be equally or more so in Syria.


The security situation for inspectors in Iraq was for a time, particularly between May 1991 and December 1993, both problematic and dangerous. Although the situation improved beginning around January 1994, prior to that UNSCOM staff members were regularly harassed with threatening phone calls, their rooms were wrongfully entered, and their property was stolen. [12] Inspectors were punched and kicked, and items such as eggs, rocks, paint, diesel fuel, and fruit were thrown at them. [13] In one incident in 1992, UNSCOM inspectors possessed evidence that the Ministry of Agriculture had documents relevant to the Iraqi WMD program, but the Iraqi government denied them access to the building. Before the situation was resolved, an Iraqi leaving the building attempted to stab an inspector who was watching the exit. [14] In 1993, the Iraqi military threatened to shoot down an UNSCOM helicopter that was providing surveillance for an inspection team. [15] Although the situation was peacefully resolved, it highlights the real physical jeopardy in which inspectors operated.

UNSCOM discovered that deterioration of the security situation for its inspectors often occurred following incidents that heightened tensions between UNSCOM and the Iraqi government. [16] Further, it appeared to UNSCOM inspectors that the aggressive activities against them were encouraged by the Iraqi government. From the shouting of Iraqis participating in the harassment of UNSCOM inspectors, it appeared as if many of them were unhappy about foreigners carrying out inspections in their country, viewing them as violations of Iraqi national sovereignty. It is unclear why the harassment ended towards the end of 1993; however, it appears to have reflected UNSCOM's observation about the security situation improving when tensions between UNSCOM and the Iraqi government decreased. In particular, having endured punishing sanctions for more than two years, the Saddam Hussein government seems to have realized that sanctions would only be alleviated if it cooperated with UNSCOM to fulfill the actions required of it under UNSCRs 687 and 715. [17] Accordingly, instead of continuing to be obstructive, starting in January 1994 Iraqi minders became helpful.


In Libya both prior to and during the civil war, there was major concern by the international community about the porous nature of Libya's borders and the security of Libya's chemical weapons stockpile. Border security in Libya has always been a difficult task, given that it is the 17th largest country in the world, and shares borders with three neighboring countries over a distance of more than 3,000 km. [18] In 2011, border security was all but impossible given that Libya was embroiled in a massive civil war. Because of border security concerns, the U.S. and other countries aided in providing security for Libya's chemical weapons stockpile during the civil war through the use of intelligence personnel, satellites, drones, and other surveillance aircraft. [19] Other weapons, including Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems that can be used to shoot down commercial aircraft, have been successfully smuggled out of the country. [20] So far, it appears that no chemical weapons smuggling has occurred; OPCW inspectors who examined Libya's chemical stockpile after the civil war ended found nothing missing. [21] However, security continues to be problematic since the end of the civil war, as rebel groups outside the control of the government control many border crossings. [22]

Lessons for Syria

Security challenges in Syria are likely to be conceptually similar to those faced in both Iraq and Libya, but far more severe. Because of the ongoing civil war, OPCW inspectors will be operating in harm's way at all times, and could be equally at risk of harm from regime and rebel forces. Much has occurred in the early days of UNSCOM work in Iraq, supporters of the Syrian regime may view OPCW inspectors as violating Syrian national sovereignty or acting as spies. However, both OPCW inspectors and Syria's chemical weapons and materials are likely to face significant security threats from rebel factions, who do not share unified objectives. [23] One such example is the al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and seeks to establish Syria as an Islamic state. [24] The al-Nusra Front or another rebel faction may view attacks on or kidnapping of OPCW inspectors as useful to its aims. UN human rights investigators have found that several Syrian rebel brigades are made-up entirely of non-Syrians from more than 10 countries. [25] In addition to posing a possible threat to OPCW inspectors, these foreign fighters may have objectives of their own that do not relate to the Syrian civil war. Some of these fighters could be participating in the Syrian civil war with the hope of obtaining access to chemical weapons and removing them from the country. Further, several chemical weapons sites are located "close to confrontation lines or within rebel-held territory," and are therefore at risk of falling into rebel hands or may have already done so. [26] As in Libya, border security is likely to be a major challenge, as some border crossings may already be under rebel control. [27] There is therefore significant uncertainty as to whether the security of chemical weapons and materials can be achieved or maintained.

Verifying Correctness and Completeness of a State's CW Declarations

Even before Syria became a CWC State Party, on September 21, the OPCW announced that "We can confirm that we have received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons programme." [28] This preliminary inventory of chemical weapons facilities and their contents was sufficient to enable the OPCW to commence work in Syria. However, Syria is expected to provide additional information. A complete inventory, akin to Iraq's Full, Final, and Complete Declaration (FFCD), is expected later this autumn. A critical task for the OPCW will be to ensure that the Syrian regime's disclosures are both correct and complete. 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.


The Iraqi government conducted extensive deception and denial operations and attempted to hinder UNSCOM as much as possible. Iraq submitted its first chemical weapons FFCD to UNSCOM in the summer of 1991. It soon became apparent to UNSCOM analysts that, similar to the biological weapons FFCD, it was seriously flawed; it was neither complete nor correct. This forced UNSCOM to become a "detective" commission, whose primary role was to learn all about Iraq's biological and chemical weapons programs (the IAEA was responsible for the nuclear program). Until December 1993, the Iraqi government consistently tried to prevent UNSCOM from gaining a full understanding of Iraq's WMD programs. Iraqi obfuscation took several forms. First, the Iraqi government continually failed to report existing chemical facilities and disregarded reporting deadlines. Instead of providing new information, UNSCOM found that the Iraqi government typically reported information that it believed UNSCOM already knew. [29] Second, the Iraqi government refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of UNSCR 715 regarding long-term monitoring. Iraq used this as justification to prevent UNSCOM inspectors from beginning the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile. [30] Third, the government regularly removed or destroyed "certain types of documents" from a number of sites prior to UNSCOM inspections. [31] In one case, individuals openly carrying documents left a site as the inspection team arrived. These documents were later turned over, but inspectors were unable to verify whether they were the original documents or if anything was missing. [32]

UNSCOM's response to the problem of Iraq's concealment behavior was to establish the Information Assessment Unit (IAU), which served to direct and organize monitoring activities, and to coordinate intelligence sharing between UNSCOM and the intelligence agencies of the countries that supported UNSCOM. [33] Because the IAU was tasked with both data collection and identifying gaps in data, it played an important role in activities such as identifying unreported chemical facilities and chemical weapons. Critical to this endeavor was the fact that the IAU maintained relationships with intelligence agencies from over 40 countries to provide the IAU with information related to Iraq's WMD programs. [34] Information provided by these countries served to fill in major knowledge gaps, such as the origins of the Iraqi chemical program and the procurement networks set up by Iraq to acquire material and knowledge needed to develop chemical and biological weapons capabilities. UNSCOM also held question and answer seminars with Iraqis who had worked on the chemical weapons program. However, these seminars yielded no significant information, mainly because Iraqi workers had been carefully briefed by Iraqi minders as to what they were permitted to divulge to UNSCOM. [35]

Despite Iraq's attempts to hinder UNSCOM from learning about its CW program, by spring 1994 UNSCOM had learned enough about Iraq's chemical weapons program to be able to start destroying both the stockpile and agents stored in bulk. During spring and summer 1994, nerve agents were chemically inactivated and mustard was burned in pits dug in the desert. By the time UNSCOM withdrew from Iraq in December 1998, the inspectorate was confident that it had destroyed an overwhelming majority of Iraq's CW program: "UNSCOM has been able to make considerable progress in the verification of other CW-related activities in Iraq, among them the uncovering of Iraq's VX project, CW research and development projects, Iraq's procurement network and efforts for its CW programme. On the basis of all these findings, UNSCOM obtained a good understanding of the major parameters of Iraq's CW programme." [36]


The Qaddafi regime's 2003 decision to renounce its WMD programs and capabilities was widely considered a major nonproliferation and disarmament success. Foreign inspectors believed they had successfully dismantled Libya's chemical weapons program on the basis of the regime's declarations. However, the first post-Qaddafi government reported to the OPCW a previously undisclosed cache of chemical weapons. [37] It is likely that this cache was deliberately hidden by the Qaddafi regime, particularly in light of its location. The cache was found in a region of southeastern Libya that is home to the Toubou ethnic group. The Toubou is a predominately nomadic people who consistently fought the Qaddafi regime. A historically indicative example of the Toubou's enmity occurred in 1980 when the U.S. and France backed Hissène Habré, a Toubou who was Chad's prime minister at that time, to defend Chad against Libya's attempt to annex Chad. [38] Believing that fighting could erupt at any time in the future between the Toubou and the government (and it did in 2007), [39] Qaddafi may have decided already in 2003 that it was in his interests to retain an undisclosed chemical weapons capability.

Lessons for Syria

Whether the Qaddafi regime knowingly hid the cache from the OPCW or not, its existence poses serious concerns for all future chemical weapons disarmament efforts. The lesson to be learned from the Libyan case for Syria is that the OPCW must maintain a high degree of suspicion vis-à-vis the completeness of state declarations.

The Assad government is completing an FFCD, and is currently cooperating with OPCW experts as they begin to destroy elements of Syria's CW program. Nevertheless, it is possible that the regime is cooperating with the OPCW as a stalling tactic aimed at reducing the likelihood of air strikes or other punitive actions. President Assad may also believe that he can secretly retain a limited chemical weapons capability while giving up the majority of his stockpile. Prior to the current diplomatic solution, the Syrian government adamantly refused to allow UN inspectors access to sites of suspected chemical weapons usage, attempted to destroy evidence of their use, and would not acknowledge owning chemical weapons. [40] Additionally, Syria has disclosed around 20 chemical weapons-related facilities, while U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies believe Syria possesses around 50. [41] There is therefore significant basis for concern regarding the correctness and completeness of Syrian declarations.

Long-Term Monitoring and Verification

As it concerns the cases of Iraq and Libya in the past, and Syria currently, long-term monitoring and verification is critical to ensuring once a country has been disarmed that it stays so; i.e., that the country does not reconstitute its CW program. There will likely be two types of long-term monitoring and verification efforts. The first will involve special inspections for the long term by a designated agency such as the OPCW of known CW facilities that have been destroyed or converted to civilian uses. The second will consist primarily of routine inspections by the OPCW to ensure that declared dual-use chemical facilities are not producing more chemical agents than permitted under the CWC, and verification of declarations concerning the destinations and end-uses of both domestically produced and imported dual-use chemical agents. [42]


The Iraq case provides insights into the challenges of undertaking monitoring and verification activities vis-à-vis a non-cooperative regime, as the Iraqi government conducted extensive denial and deception operations against inspectors. Baghdad Monitoring Centre became the main base for ongoing monitoring and verification activities in Iraq beginning in 1994. [43] The chemical weapons monitoring group visited declared sites, where it would inventory and tag key items and equipment, take air samples, and install remote-controlled cameras and sensor systems to monitor sites capable of producing precursors, dual-use equipment, and pesticides. [44] A chemical laboratory was installed at the Baghdad Monitoring Centre for analysis of samples. These monitoring methods were mutually reinforcing as, for example, satellite imagery could be used to justify an on-site inspection. [45] However, in December 1998 Iraq ended cooperation with all UNSCOM and IAEA monitoring activities. [46]

If this were where the story ended, it would be far more difficult to assess how successful UNSCOM was in disarming Iraq's CW program. However, following Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the U.S. government established the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) to investigate Iraq's WMD programs. It looked into the effectiveness of the monitoring and verification system set up by UNSCOM and its successor, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). One of the ISG's findings was that the UNSCOM monitors had accomplished the task of identifying and destroying all chemically-related prohibited items, facilities, and capabilities. [47] The fact that the ISG, despite its best efforts, found no evidence that Iraq's past CW program survived UNSCOM's efforts to destroy it helped corroborate UNSCOM's effectiveness. As such, the UNSCOM monitoring and verification activities in Iraq related to CW can be considered to have been highly successful.


Libyan CW disarmament was broadly viewed as a success. However, insufficient attention has been paid to the issue of establishing long-term monitoring and verification mechanisms in Libya, which appear to have consisted to-date of only routine OPCW inspections. [48] Within the U.S. intelligence community, Libya was shifted to a much lower priority after the disarmament efforts began in 2003. This left insufficient resources for long-term monitoring activities. To quote the Robb-Silberman Report of 2005, "There is growing concern within the Intelligence Community that thinking 'Libya is done' may leave collectors and analysts without the resources needed to track and monitor future change. Competing priorities have reduced the focus on Libya since the 2003 declarations, and Libya may again become a low priority for collectors. Some analysts say they have already begun to feel the effects of the shift in priorities." [49] Had the Qaddafi regime not been deposed in the Libyan civil war, the regime may have been able to covertly reconstitute its chemical weapons program because of the low prioritization of long-term monitoring and verification by Western intelligence agencies. As previously discussed, it appears that Qaddafi intentionally maintained a cache of chemical weapons proximate to the region inhabited by the Toubou ethnic group. This suggests the Qaddafi regime was never committed to full compliance with its CW disarmament commitments.

Lessons for Syria

Long-term monitoring and verification in the Syrian case will pose significant challenges to the international community under any circumstances. Because it is unclear when and how the civil war will end, the specific challenges remain to be determined. If the Assad regime remains in power over the long-term, it may only appear to cooperate fully with the OPCW over the short-term, while retaining technical know-how and dual-use equipment that would enable it to reconstitute its chemical weapons program in the longer-term. If the Assad regime falls, the international community will face the challenge of monitoring and verification in a country that may not have a stable or effective central government. The latter case would pose the greatest challenge for CW disarmament if there are remaining CW capabilities in the country, as materials and border security would pose even greater security concerns.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Disarming Syria of its chemical weapons capability will be fraught with challenges. However, the Iraq and Libya cases may help lead to a more favorable outcome by highlighting the likely challenges and risks, while also providing potential solutions. This section examines possible policy recommendations stemming from the case analysis.

Ensuring Physical Security of Foreign Personnel and Chemical Weapons Materials

As the Iraqi case in particular suggests, ensuring the physical security of OPCW inspectors is likely to be difficult. Here, the Albanian chemical weapons disposal case offers additional insights on how to move personnel and sensitive materials out of the most dangerous areas of Syria. Albania's stockpile was located in a mountainous and remote part of the country that made transportation of materials out of the country very difficult. [50] This problem was resolved through the use of a semi-mobile plant, designed and operated by the German company Eisenmann AG, and transported to the stockpile's location. [51] This type of plant could be highly useful in Syria for stockpile destruction in areas of the country where the security situation is such that chemical weapons should not be moved. Because the plant is not fixed in location, it can be moved as the conflict evolves and battle lines change. Furthermore, if there is sufficient warning of a planned attack on a facility, it can simply be moved. However, this plant does not have a high destruction capacity so given the large size of Syria's chemical stockpile, it probably would be necessary to deploy several of them.

Efforts are also underway to improve Syrian border security. Iraqi military forces have been deployed to the border with Syria, [52] and Jordan has requested assistance from the United States to improve its border security. [53] Although it is not clear that anything has come of that request, in April 2011 the American defense contractor Raytheon was awarded a $35.9 million contract to "design, develop and implement an integrated surveillance system along parts of the Jordanian border." [54] However, more attention needs to be given to the border between Syria and Turkey, as Turkey's attention has been focused on supporting rebel factions in the civil war at the expense of border security. [55]

Verifying Correctness and Completeness of Syria's CW Declarations

The Iraq case presents potential solutions to the problem of verifying the correctness and completeness of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile declarations. UNSCOM created a coordinating body for reconnaissance, inspections, and intelligence sharing, the IAU. This unit enhanced UNSCOM's analytical capabilities by improving the relationship between UNSCOM and national intelligence agencies, thus allowing for the constructive flow of information to UNSCOM that it otherwise would not have been able to secure. The IAU could serve as a model for a similar unit that the OPCW could set up focused on Syria; i.e., one that is responsible for verifying the correctness and completeness of data provided by the Syrian government and to counter possible denial and deception operations of the Syrian government. Since UNSCOM's mandate was special in that it encompassed the elimination of all of Iraq's WMD programs, its ability to work with national intelligence agencies via the IAU probably cannot be precisely duplicated. Given the special situation pertaining to disarming Syria and keeping it disarmed, it seems that since the UN Secretary General already has the authority to set up teams of experts to investigate possible breaches of the BTWC, Geneva Protocol, and customary international law, he mutatis mutandis has the authority to create a dedicated team for collecting, analyzing, and enabling the sharing of intelligence information on Syria's CW program.

The case of Libya highlights the risks to the international community should verification efforts fail. The hidden cache of chemical weapons could have been used by the Qaddafi regime during the civil war or seized by other groups. While completeness of declarations cannot be 100% confirmed, the OPCW verification regime should be strengthened to enable ongoing monitoring. In light of similar risks of lost or secret stockpiles of chemical weapons remaining in Syria after its CW program supposedly has been destroyed, the OPCW should assume the "detective" role that UNSCOM played in Iraq.

Long-Term Monitoring and Verification

The Iraq case illustrates possible methods for setting up and operating a strict long-term monitoring and verification regime. In Iraq, a permanent body was established to, inter alia, conduct regular and surprise on-site inspections, inventory key equipment, monitor facilities through remote-controlled cameras, and use detectors to monitor the environment for radiological and chemical substances that might indicate illegal activities. This would serve as a good model for Syria; i.e., the OPCW should setup an ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) program for Syria that would be similar to UNSCOM's OMV program in Iraq, although some of its operations undoubtedly cannot be implemented until the ongoing civil war ends. The Libyan case reinforces how critical effective long-term monitoring and verification methods are to disarmament success. In particular, international attention needs to remain focused on monitoring and verification activities, even after the demilitarization issue appears to be resolved. Failure to do so may allow the Syrian government (either the Assad regime or the victors in the civil war), to retain the knowledge-base and dual-use technology to reconstitute a chemical weapons program in the future, or on a lesser scale, to retain small hidden caches of chemical weapons.

[1] Office of the Press Secretary, "Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013," August 30, 2013,
[2] U.S. Department of State, "Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons," September 14, 2013,
[3] Chemical weapons stockpiles include chemical agents, filled and unfilled delivery systems, bulk receptacles, and the sites from which the weapons are launched, such as artillery and rocket emplacements.
[4] U.S. Department of State, "Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons," September 14, 2013,
[5] Precursors are chemicals that are used in reactions to create chemical weapon agents.
[6] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 2118 (2013). Adopted by the Security Council at its 7038th meeting, on September 27, 2013.
[7] Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, United Nations, "Security Council Requires Scheduled Destruction of Syria's Chemical Weapons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2118 (2013)," September 27, 2013,; "OPCW Inspectors Arrive in Syria to Destroy Bashar Assad's Chemical Weapons," CBS News, October 1, 2013,; "Syria Chemical Weapon: OPCW Plea for Short Ceasefires," BBC, October 14, 2013,
[8] United Nations, "United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) Basic Facts,"
[9] Paul Kerr, "Libya Vows to Dismantle WMD Program," Arms Control Association, January/February 2004,
[10] Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "OPCW Inspectors Verify Newly Declared Chemical Weapons Material in Libya,"
[11] Diane Barnes, "Destruction of Libyan Chemical-Loaded Arms Remains on Hold," Global Security Newswire, September 11, 2013,
[12] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[13] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[14] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[15] "Fifth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/25977, June 21, 1993,
[16] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[17] UNSCR 715 (1991) approved the plans for ongoing monitoring and verification submitted by the Secretary-General in May 1991, and ordered Iraq to "…accept unconditionally the inspectors and all other personnel designated by the Special Commission."
[18] Shared borders: 982 km with Algeria; 1,055 km with Chad; and 1,115 km with Egypt. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Libya,
[19] Barbara Starr, "U.S., NATO Concerned about Libya's Stockpile of Weapons," CNN, August 23, 2011,
[20] Lynn Herrmann, "U.S. Can't Locate MANPAD Missiles Missing in Libya," Digital Journal, February 9, 2012,
[21] Reuters UK, "Libyan Chemical Weapons Stockpile Intact – Inspectors," International Business Times, November 4, 2011,
[22] Gabriel Gatehouse, "Battle of Wills over Control of Libya's Border Crossing," BBC, March 2, 2012,; John Thorne, "Libya's Greatest Security Threat: Its Porous Southern Border," Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 2013,
[23] Martin Chulov, "Syria's War More Complex than Ever as Both Sides Face Internal Divisions," The Guardian, September 19, 2013,
[24] "Al-Nusra Front," Mapping Militant Organizations, July 15, 2013,
[25] Stephanie Nebehay, "Rebels, Foreign Fighters Step up Crimes in Syria: U.N.," Reuters, September 16, 2013,
[26] Alan Cowell and Anne Barnard, "Syrian Rebels Urged to Let Inspectors See Arms Sites," New York Times, October 14, 2013,
[27] Nabih Bulos, "Islamist Syrian Rebels Claim to Capture Crossing on Jordanian Border," Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2013,
[28] Paul Adams, "Syria Chemical Weapons Data Received by OPCW," BBC, September 21, 2013,
[29] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[30] "Status of the Implementation of the Plan for the Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq's Compliance with Relevant Parts of Section C of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991)," S/25620, April 19, 1993,
[31] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[32] "Fourth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/24984, December 17, 1992,
[33] Jason D. Ellis and Geoffrey D. Kiefer, Combating Proliferation: Strategic Intelligence and Security Policy, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2004), p. 129.
[34] Jason D. Ellis and Geoffrey D. Kiefer, Combating Proliferation: Strategic Intelligence and Security Policy, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2004), pp. 129, 130.
[35] "Fifth Report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), on the Activities of the Special Commission," S/25977, June 21, 1993,
[36] Amorin, "Report of the First Panel Established Pursuant to the Note by the President of the Security Council on 30 January 1999 (S/1999/100), Concerning Disarmament and Current and Future Ongoing Monitoring and Verification Issues," S/1999/356, March 27, 1999,
[37] Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, "OPCW Inspectors Verify Newly Declared Chemical Weapons Material in Libya,"
[38] Alex de Waal, "Chad in the Firing Line," Index on Censorship 35 (August 2006), pp. 59, 60.
[39] United Nations Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, "Summary Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Accordance with Paragraph 15 (c) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1," A/HRC/WG.6/9/LBY/3, July 15, 2010,
[40] Amy E. Smithson, "A Phony Farewell to Arms: Why Assad Won't Have to Part with Poison Gas," Foreign Affairs, October 1, 2013,
[41] "OPCW Says Violence Has Kept Inspectors from Visiting One Syrian Site," Global Security Newswire, October 17, 2013,
[42] Mohamed Daoudi and Ralf Trapp, "Verification under the Chemical Weapons Convention" in Verifying Treaty Compliance: Limiting Weapons of Mass Destruction and Monitoring Kyoto Protocol Provisions, (New York: Springer, 2006), pp. 90-96.
[43] "Report of the Secretary-General on the Status of the Implementation of the Special Commission's Plan for the Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq's Compliance with Relevant Parts of Section C of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991)," April 10, 1995,; "UNSCOM Comprehensive Overview,"
[44] "Report of the Secretary-General on the Status of the Implementation of the Special Commission's Plan for the Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq's Compliance with Relevant Parts of Section C of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991)," April 10, 1995,
[45] Jonathan B. Tucker, "Monitoring and Verification in a Noncooperative Environment: Lessons from the U.N. Experience in Iraq," Nonproliferation Review/Spring-Summer 1996, p. 12.
[46] "Resolution 1205 (1998)," November 5, 1998,
[47] Ambassador Rolf Ekéus, "Sep. 12: The Iraq Action Team: a Model for Monitoring and Verification of WMD Non-Proliferation," Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, September, 2012,
[48] Nathan E. Busch and Joseph F. Pilat, "Disarming Libya? A Reassessment after the Arab Spring," International Affairs 89:2 (2013), pp. 470, 471.
[49] "The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction," March 31, 2005, p. 263 quoted as "Robb-Silberman Report" in Nathan E. Busch and Joseph F. Pilat, "Disarming Libya? A Reassessment after the Arab Spring," International Affairs 89:2 (2013), pp. 470, 471.
[50] Defense Threat Reduction Agency, "Albania Eliminates Chemical Weapons Stockpile,"
[51] Eisenmann, "Disposal of Chemical Weapons,"
[52] "Iraqi Forces Deploy along Syria Border," Al Arabiya, September 13, 2013,
[53] Thom Shanker, "Jordan Asks for Assistance in Securing Syrian Border," New York Times, August 14, 2013,
[54] "Raytheon Awarded $35.9 Million DTRA Border Security Contract: Surveillance, Training, Maintenance Will Support the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," PRNewswire – Raytheon Company, April 11, 2013,
[55] Fehim Taştekin, "Radical Groups Operate on Turkey's Border," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, October 17, 2013,

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Chemical Weapon (CW)
The CW: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons defines a chemical weapon as any of the following: 1) a toxic chemical or its precursors; 2) a munition specifically designed to deliver a toxic chemical; or 3) any equipment specifically designed for use with toxic chemicals or munitions. Toxic chemical agents are gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical substances that use their toxic properties to cause death or severe harm to humans, animals, and/or plants. Chemical weapons include blister, nerve, choking, and blood agents, as well as non-lethal incapacitating agents and riot-control agents. Historically, chemical weapons have been the most widely used and widely proliferated weapon of mass destruction.
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council: Under the United Nations Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Council consists of fifteen members, five of which—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are permanent members. The other ten members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. The five permanent members possess veto powers. For additional information, see the UNSC.
Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires each state party to declare and destroy all the chemical weapons (CW) and CW production facilities it possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, as well as any CW it abandoned on the territory of another state. The CWC was opened for signature on 13 January 1993, and entered into force on 29 April 1997. For additional information, see the CWC.
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
The OPCW: Based in The Hague, the Netherlands, the OPCW is responsible for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). All countries ratifying the CWC become state parties to the CWC, and make up the membership of the OPCW. The OPCW meets annually, and in special sessions when necessary. For additional information, see the OPCW.
Dismantlement: Taking apart a weapon, facility, or other item so that it is no longer functional.
Though there is no agreed-upon legal definition of what disarmament entails within the context of international agreements, a general definition is the process of reducing the quantity and/or capabilities of military weapons and/or military forces.
Punitive measures, for example economic in nature, implemented in response to a state's violation of its international obligations.
United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM)
UNSCOM: An inspection and weapons destruction program established pursuant to paragraph 9(b)(l) of UN Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) following the 1990 to 1991 Gulf War. Section C of the resolution called for the elimination, under international supervision, of Iraq's WMD and ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers, together with related items and production facilities. It also called for measures to ensure that Iraq did not resume the acquisition and production of prohibited items. UNSCOM was set up to implement the non-nuclear provisions of the resolution, and to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency in the nuclear areas. It was replaced by UNMOVIC in 1999.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
IAEA: Founded in 1957 and based in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA is an autonomous international organization in the United Nations system. The Agency’s mandate is the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, technical assistance in this area, and verification that nuclear materials and technology stay in peaceful use. Article III of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires non-nuclear weapon states party to the NPT to accept safeguards administered by the IAEA. The IAEA consists of three principal organs: the General Conference (of member states); the Board of Governors; and the Secretariat. For additional information, see the IAEA.
Mustard (HD)
Mustard is a blister agent, or vesicant. The term mustard gas typically refers to sulfur mustard (HD), despite HD being neither a mustard nor a gas. Sulfur mustard gained notoriety during World War I for causing more casualties than all of the other chemical agents combined. Victims develop painful blisters on their skin, as well as lung and eye irritation leading to potential pulmonary edema and blindness. However, mustard exposure is usually not fatal. A liquid at room temperature, sulfur mustard has been delivered using artillery shells and aerial bombs. HD is closely related to the nitrogen mustards (HN-1, HN-2, HN—3).
Chemical Agent Precursor
Any chemical reactant which takes part at any stage in the production by whatever method of a chemical agent. This includes any key component of a binary or multi-component chemical system.  Common precursors to toxic chemicals are listed alongside the agents in the OPCW Schedules of Chemicals.  Many precursors controlled through nonproliferation initiatives also have legitimate commercial uses.
WMD (weapons of mass destruction)
WMD: Typically refers to nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, though there is some debate as to whether chemical weapons qualify as weapons of “mass destruction.”
Air Defenses
Weapon systems deployed to defend territory or troops from attack by aircraft, cruise or ballistic missiles. Air defense weapons include air, land and sea-based radar guided or infrared homing surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles, and automatic gunfire.
Al-Qaeda or Al-Qa’ida
Al-Qaeda or Al-Qa'ida: A radical Islamist terrorist organization established by Osama bin Laden (now deceased), responsible for a number of attacks in the United States and worldwide, including the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Al-Qa'ida means “the base” in Arabic, and acts as an umbrella organization for a number of terrorist groups around the world. The organization’s current leader is Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Nerve agent
A nerve agent is a chemical weapon that attacks the human nervous system, leading to uncontrolled nerve cell excitation and muscle contraction. Specifically, nerve agents block the enzyme cholinesterease, so acetylcholine builds up in the nerve junction and the neuron cannot return to the rest state. Nerve agents include the G-series nerve agents (soman, sarin, tabun, and GF) synthesized by Germany during and after World War II; the more toxic V-series nerve agents (VX, VE, VM, VG, VR) discovered by the United Kingdom during the 1950s; and the reportedly even more toxic Novichok agents, developed by the Soviet Union between 1960 and 1990. The development of both the G-series and V-series nerve agents occurred alongside pesticide development.
VX: The most toxic of the V-series nerve agents, VX was developed after the discovery of VE in the United Kingdom. Like other nerve agents, VX causes uncontrollable nerve excitation and muscle excitation. Ultimately, VX victims suffer death by suffocation. VX is an oily, amber-colored, odorless liquid.
Nonproliferation: Measures to prevent the spread of biological, chemical, and/or nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. See entry for Proliferation.
Dual-use item
An item that has both civilian and military applications. For example, many of the precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of chemical weapons have legitimate civilian industrial uses, such as the production of pesticides or ink for ballpoint pens.
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)
UNMOVIC: The successor to the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq established by UN Security Council Resolution 1284 (1999), UNMOVIC was mandated to establish a reinforced, ongoing monitoring and verification system to check Iraq's compliance with its obligations not to reacquire WMD. UNMOVIC was terminated in June 2007. See entry for United Nations Special Commission on Iraq.
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)
The BTWC: The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BTWC) prohibits the development, production, or stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons. Countries must destroy or divert to peaceful purposes all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment, and means of delivery within nine months after the entry into force of the convention. The BTWC was opened for signature on April 10, 1972, and entered into force on March 26, 1975. In 1994, the BTWC member states created the Ad Hoc Group to negotiate a legally binding BTWC Protocol that would help deter violations of the BTWC. The draft protocol outlines a monitoring regime that would require declarations of dual-use activities and facilities, routine visits to declared facilities, and short-notice challenge investigations. For additional information, see the BTWC.
Geneva Protocol
Geneva Protocol: Formally known as the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, this protocol prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases, and bans bacteriological warfare. It was opened for signature on 17 June 1925. For additional information, see the Geneva Protocol.


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