International inspectors are due to get their first look at Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles within days, implementing a United Nations-backed plan to secure and destroy the deadly arsenal amid a civil war.
The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons plans to have inspections begin by Oct. 1 on a fast-tracked schedule to deny Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the use of his mustard gas and nerve agents. It envisions eliminating all Syria’s chemical weapons and related materials by mid-2014.
It’s the first time the Netherlands-based organization has undertaken such a task in a war zone. In addition to security, the plan faces hurdles that include U.S. and other countries’ doubts about Assad’s intentions and questions of where and how the weapons and related materials will be destroyed.
“Rightly, people have been concerned about whether Syria will follow through on the commitments that have been laid forth,” U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters yesterday at the White House. “And I think there are legitimate concerns as to how, technically, we’re going to be getting those chemical weapons out while there’s still fighting going on.”
Assad will quickly be tested by inspections, and the chemical weapons organization’s 41-nation Executive Council agreed to meet within 24 hours after any Syrian violations to consider referring the matter to the UN Security Council.
Read the full story here.