By Guy Taylor
September 22, 2013
As the Obama administration presses the United Nations this week to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, it faces the stark reality that the United States has failed to meet a 2012 deadline to destroy its remaining arsenal and has never pressured its closest Middle East ally, Israel, to sign the treaty banning such weapons.
The United States possesses some 3,000 metric tons of chemical weapons. Although 90 percent of the stockpile declared by Washington upon signing the weapons ban in 1993 has been destroyed, efforts to neutralize the remaining munitions have slowed to a trickle in recent years.
Russia, meanwhile, has destroyed 60 percent of its declared stockpile and has some 16,000 metric tons left to be neutralized, according to a November report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — the Netherlands-based body that oversees the ban treaty.
Moscow and Washington have failed over the past 20 years to live up to promises of destroying their stockpiles as a result of what weapons analysts describe as a mountain of financial, logistical and environmental burdens that have come to be associated with the process.
Skeptics fear that the U.S.-Russian plan for securing Syria’s weapons will get mired by similar factors.
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