Israel, U.S. express growing concern about Syria's chemical weapons stockpile
Syria has used such weapons on its civilian population once before
Israel and the U.S. have expressed growing concern about the rapidly
deteriorating situation in Syria, which is "armed to the teeth with
chemical weapons, or weapons of mass destruction. There are fears that
these weapons - which have been moved about the country over the past
few days, could potentially fall into the hands of rebel forces."
The chemical agent known as sarin was unleashed on the Tokyo subway usually referred to in the Japanese media as the Subway Sarin Incident was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by members of Aum Shinrikyo religious cult on March 20, 1995
Intelligence analysts have been left adrift, grasping at straws, Rob Danin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations says. "No scenario is too fanciful," Danin said. "We are in such uncharted territory. The regime is reeling and armed to the teeth."
Both Israeli and U.S. security forces say that only two things are certain in these most uncertain times: The Syrian government has the most advanced chemical weapons program in the Third World . and has used these weapons on its civilian population at least once before.
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been repositioning chemical weapons for possible use against the opposition in retaliation for the assassination of four top security officials.
"We don't know why" they have begun moving chemical weapons from storage, a senior U.S. official said. He refused to speculate whether the Assad regime could be preparing to use the weapons in an attempt to halt the civilian uprising.
The nation of Syria showed its hand by saying it would unleash its chemical and biological weapons only in the event of a foreign attack earlier this week. It was the first time Syria acknowledged that it possessed such weapons.
According to Danin, all the statement did "was heighten international concerns about the (chemical weapons) stockpile . If anything is going to trigger intervention, it's this. It's a potential 'causus belli'" - or "cause of war," in Latin.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said if the Bashar al-Assad regime used chemical weapons on civilians, it would cross a "serious red line.
"We would, of course, caution them strongly against any intention to use those weapons," he said. Little also reiterated that the U.S. believes the chemicals are still secure.
Officials had long believed that the Syrian government had stockpiled the banned chemical weapons. U.S. intelligence reports indicate that Syria possesses the nerve agents sarin and tabun, as well as traditional chemical weapons like mustard gas and hydrogen cyanide.
The CIA report also stated that Syria "is developing the more toxic and persistent nerve agent VX," which is more persistent than sarin and tabun and capable of rendering an area - or a city - uninhabitable "for some days."
In addition, Syria is believed to have thousands of chemical weapons and hundreds of missiles and aircraft to deliver them. Israel has estimated that Syria has "several thousand" bombs that could be filled mostly with sarin and more than 100 warheads.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Syria, sarin, chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, mustard gas
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