World Jittery as Syria Combines Chemical Weapons
Wed, December 5, 2012
Although Syrian Foreign Ministry announced this week that it "would not use chemical weapons -- if there are any -- against its own people under any circumstances," telltale signs revealed to American intelligence sources suggest the contrary.
CNN reports that the United States has received intelligence from multiple sources that Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have begun combining chemicals used to make sarin gas, a deadly poison that could be used in weapons against rebel forces and the civilian population.
Although U.S. officials declines to reveal the sources of this information, they did stress that these reports differ from the previous ones that detected movement in Syria’s chemical warfare arsenal.
"This isn't just about movement, but about potential intent to make certain chemical weapons ready for use," said one U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Another official said that artillery shells could readily be filled with the gas.
Syria has never admitted to possessing chemical weapons and remains one of only seven nations that have refused to sign the international Chemical Weapons Treaty which went into effect on April 29, 1997. Syria has signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol that outlaws the use of chemical weapons in war, a protocol that came about after World War I when the effects of the use of mustard gas and other chemical agents become public.
Reacting to this latest news, U.S. President Barack Obama was quoted as saying,"I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command -- the world is watching."
Obama also added a warning, "The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable,” he said.
Obama called the use of any chemical weapons by Assad as crossing a “red line.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also threatened a U.S. response in the face of any chemical weapon usage. "I'm not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people," she said. "But suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur."
As the world watches anxiously, everyone’s fear is that a deparate Assad – who appears to be losing ground by the day – would use the weapons out of desperation.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has announced an immediate pullout of all nonessential employees from Syria, and NATO foreign ministers have approved Turkey's request for the Patriot missile defense system to defend its borders.