OPCW inspectors ready to destroy Syrian chemical weapons

OPCWThe phone calls have been overwhelming and the late nights unusual at a quiet organization charged with an unprecedented task: disarming Syria of its chemical weapons in the middle of a civil war.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will send a team of inspectors to Damascus on Monday, and its success or failure could shape whether the United States and its partners push once again to intervene militarily in Syria. The tiny organization, which just six weeks ago was accustomed to calmer work overseeing the destruction of Cold War-era stockpiles of American and Russian weaponry, has had to shift to war footing as it prepares to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons in a matter of months.

Among the questions that remain are whether the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has fully declared its stockpile; whether the inspectors will be secure in dangerous territory where control is fluid; and whether the team can meet ambitious timetables, approved Saturday, under which it must destroy Syria’s capability to produce chemical weapons by Nov. 1 and eliminate all chemical and munitions stockpiles by July 1. Such efforts usually take years.

Critics say that the agency’s consensus-driven approach to resolving conflicts about disclosures may move too slowly for a fast-moving situation and that it has little experience doing detective work when weapons are hidden.

But officials at the 16-year-old agency, housed in a building in The Hague that looks like a round of Edam cheese missing a wedge, say they are up for the challenge.

“People are still getting their heads around being in the global limelight,” said Michael Luhan, the OPCW’s sole spokesman, who juggled three phones for hours on a recent day as hundreds of journalists called to ask for details about Syria’s surprise enumeration of its chemical weaponry. “If this is not an example of building a plane and flying it at the same time, I don’t know what is.”

Not a 24-7 organization

The OPCW is tasked with implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, which took effect in 1997 and requires the elimination of all chemical weapons by the 189 states — 190 including Syria — that are party to the agreement. That work has taken inspectors to unstable countries such as Libya and Iraq.

Most of the efforts, however, have been devoted to overseeing the slow, methodical destruction of vast stores of American and Russian weaponry, along with inspecting chemical plants around the world to ensure that they are not being used to produce new weapons. Improvising under live fire typically has not been the agency’s task. Most plans are made a year in advance.

“It’s kind of a 9-to-5 organization, in a way. It’s not a 24-7 organization, and it’s going to have to adapt to that,” said Faiza Patel, a former senior policy officer at the OPCW. “The organization is not really set up to be an investigative organization,” unlike the U.N. investigators who were sent to Iraq in the 1990s, she said. “It’s set up to do routine inspections that are based on the declarations that the states provide.”

A ‘body of nerdish people’

But analysts praise the agency’s technical capabilities and expertise. OPCW officials were part of the U.N. inspection team that was in Damascus on Aug. 21 when a chemical weapons attack took place on the city’s outskirts. They visited the site five days later — coming under fire along the way — and interviewed survivors and took samples and weapons measurements, all under a tight deadline. Then they produced a report in three weeks.

“It’s this body of nerdish people who go out in gumboots and collect chemical samples, and go into factories and oversee the destruction of chemical weapons,” said Patricia Lewis, research director for international security at Chatham House in London and former director of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research. “They were in this backwater of The Hague, and they were getting along quietly, fulfilling their mandate.”

She added: “They’re very good. They’re very professional.”

Now the organization, which has long operated in the shadow of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, is looking to bulk up quickly. It has 125 inspectors on staff and plans to call retirees back into service as it establishes a presence in Syria. The Syrian delegation will come from existing ranks for now, officials said, but the resolution passed Saturday by the OPCW’s executive council calls for the agency’s expansion. Its budget this year is $95 million, paid by member countries.

Officials were preparing Saturday for a multi-ton airlift of equipment and personnel — about 20 inspectors and support staff — according to an OPCW official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive logistics. Supplies and employees are scheduled to land in Damascus on Monday, and inspectors are to start work Tuesday. Site inspections will begin in about a week.

Means of destruction

The inspectors’ first task will be to check the sites and munitions against the Syrian government’s declaration, the official said. Other staff members will set up a headquarters in Damascus. The inspectors will then oversee the rapid destruction of equipment used to produce chemical weapons, something analysts said could be done with sledgehammers, buzz saws and bulldozers.

Destruction of chemical materiel will take longer and is more complicated, especially in the middle of a war, officials said. The job will be easier than it could have been because much of the chemical materiel is not in weaponized form, U.S. and OPCW officials have said.

One method is to incinerate the chemicals, analysts said. Another is to use hydrolysis to render the chemicals less dangerous. The fastest method would be to remove the stores from Syria and destroy them at a slower pace, but moving chemical weapons across state borders is banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“The convention was never written for the environment that we find ourselves in,” the OPCW official said.

“At this stage, there are clearly things that we’d like to do that we can’t,” the official added. “But nothing is off the table, apart from things like just dumping it in the ground.”

The Washington Post

  • All the stupid niggers of the U.N. Security Council (that is, the five permanent members) need to be reminded that India is the sole superpower; after destroying Washington and New York with its nuclear warheads emplaced in U.S. cities, India can compel the United States to use its nuclear-armed ICBMs to destroy, say, Moscow and St. Persburg, or Beijing and Shanghai or any other country in the world, or lose more of its own cities. What is said below about the flecks of filth that are Indian politicians or Manmohan Singh or RAW, etc. does not change this basic fact. Nothing that your puppy dog/ fleck of filth Manmohan Singh says either to the Negro in the White House or in the General Assembly on nuclear, military or economic issues or anything else matters; only what India’s legitimate ruler says matters; hosting him is an offense to India.

    I have said that whenever I write about the United States as India’s number one enemy, CIA-RAW carry out terrorist attacks or border incidents to replace it with Muslims, Pakistan or China as the enemy and the fidayeen attack in J & K on Sept 26 ’13 was carried out to divert attention from my press release below sent just before the fidayeen attack. The fleck of filth Sushma Swaraj asked canceling talks between Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif after the attack but why not cancel talks between Manmohan Singh and Obama? Just as all ministers and other politicians in J & K received money from the Indian army as V. K. Singh has disclosed, this fleck of filth and all Indian members of parliament and other politicians for many decades have regularly received packets full of cash from the CIA because of which they would never make such a demand. The following is my press release to divert attention from which the fidayeen attack was carried out:-

    What has been revealed so far about NSA monitoring of Indians is not a millionth part of what it does. For the last 36 years, NSA has kept the world’s greatest scientist and India’s legitimate ruler under 24-hour audio and video surveillance by satellite as well as surveillance of all electronic communications, computer use, etc. India’s RAW has been participating in this surveillance and harassment to the hilt. On August 8, 2008, CIA director Michael Hayden and former chairman of India’s Joint Intelligence Committee, K. Subrahmanyam, came on line and confirmed this surveillance by satellite that has been going on with this scientist as target for the past 36 years. See HaydenSubrahmanyamDOTblogspotDOTcom for what they said. This is what the CIA has been doing to this scientist:-

    “”India’s greatest scientist and greatest living Indian publicly tortured in Harvard seminar, systematically and totally starved for up to 3 weeks at a time, made semi-starved and homeless and even blind for years, kept under 24-hour audio and video surveillance as well as surveillance of [and interference with] communications and electrical typewriter and computer use, document creation and photocopying, etc., by satellite for more than past 3 decades, systematically harassed and in poverty and neutralised and robbed of his work at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, robbed of crores in his money and property in India by C.I.A.-RAW, forced back into exile in the U.S., all with full cooperation and participation of India’s RAW and India’s C.I.A.-RAW-controlled prime ministers, politicians and media — to keep India poor, weak and enslaved” and how this means the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and then the coast-to-coast destruction of the United States; see my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’ which can be found by a Yahoo/Google search with the title; my biography can be found in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, 2013 and earlier editions.”

    For how the CIA exercises TOTAL control over India including its politicians and media, see WhatYouShouldKnowAboutRAWDOTblogspotDOTcom .

    IndiasTraitorGovtAndMediaDOTblogspotDOTcom

    JoinIndiaWarOfIndependenceDOTblogspotDOTcom

    IndianAirForcePilotsMurderDOTblogspotDOTcom

    IndiasLegitimateRulerSatishChandraDOTblogspotDOTcom

    Warning: CIA-RAW routinely post abuse or ridicule on any expose of the above activities to discourage people from reading about or pursuing them.

    Satish Chandra

  • All the stupid niggers of the U.N. Security Council (that is, the five permanent members) need to be reminded that India is the sole superpower; after destroying Washington and New York with its nuclear warheads emplaced in U.S. cities, India can compel the United States to use its nuclear-armed ICBMs to destroy, say, Moscow and St. Persburg, or Beijing and Shanghai or any other country in the world, or lose more of its own cities. What is said below about the flecks of filth that are Indian politicians or Manmohan Singh or RAW, etc. does not change this basic fact. Nothing that your puppy dog/ fleck of filth Manmohan Singh says either to the Negro in the White House or in the General Assembly on nuclear, military or economic issues or anything else matters; only what India’s legitimate ruler says matters; hosting him is an offense to India.

    I have said that whenever I write about the United States as India’s number one enemy, CIA-RAW carry out terrorist attacks or border incidents to replace it with Muslims, Pakistan or China as the enemy and the fidayeen attack in J & K on Sept 26 ’13 was carried out to divert attention from my press release below sent just before the fidayeen attack. The fleck of filth Sushma Swaraj asked canceling talks between Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif after the attack but why not cancel talks between Manmohan Singh and Obama? Just as all ministers and other politicians in J & K received money from the Indian army as V. K. Singh has disclosed, this fleck of filth and all Indian members of parliament and other politicians for many decades have regularly received packets full of cash from the CIA because of which they would never make such a demand. The following is my press release to divert attention from which the fidayeen attack was carried out:-

    What has been revealed so far about NSA monitoring of Indians is not a millionth part of what it does. For the last 36 years, NSA has kept the world’s greatest scientist and India’s legitimate ruler under 24-hour audio and video surveillance by satellite as well as surveillance of all electronic communications, computer use, etc. India’s RAW has been participating in this surveillance and harassment to the hilt. On August 8, 2008, CIA director Michael Hayden and former chairman of India’s Joint Intelligence Committee, K. Subrahmanyam, came on line and confirmed this surveillance by satellite that has been going on with this scientist as target for the past 36 years. See HaydenSubrahmanyamDOTblogspotDOTcom for what they said. This is what the CIA has been doing to this scientist:-

    “”India’s greatest scientist and greatest living Indian publicly tortured in Harvard seminar, systematically and totally starved for up to 3 weeks at a time, made semi-starved and homeless and even blind for years, kept under 24-hour audio and video surveillance as well as surveillance of [and interference with] communications and electrical typewriter and computer use, document creation and photocopying, etc., by satellite for more than past 3 decades, systematically harassed and in poverty and neutralised and robbed of his work at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, robbed of crores in his money and property in India by C.I.A.-RAW, forced back into exile in the U.S., all with full cooperation and participation of India’s RAW and India’s C.I.A.-RAW-controlled prime ministers, politicians and media — to keep India poor, weak and enslaved” and how this means the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and then the coast-to-coast destruction of the United States; see my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’ which can be found by a Yahoo/Google search with the title; my biography can be found in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, 2013 and earlier editions.”

    For how the CIA exercises TOTAL control over India including its politicians and media, see WhatYouShouldKnowAboutRAWDOTblogspotDOTcom .

    IndiasTraitorGovtAndMediaDOTblogspotDOTcom

    JoinIndiaWarOfIndependenceDOTblogspotDOTcom

    IndianAirForcePilotsMurderDOTblogspotDOTcom

    IndiasLegitimateRulerSatishChandraDOTblogspotDOTcom

    Warning: CIA-RAW routinely post abuse or ridicule on any expose of the above activities to discourage people from reading about or pursuing them.

    Satish Chandra