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Monday 22 December  
Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Syrian chemical weapons: real threat or bargaining chip?

Published on : 7 December 2012 - 2:28pm | By (Photo: RNW)
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US President Barak Obama has issued a strongly worded statement, warning the Syrian authorities against the use of chemical weapons . The warning follows the publication of intelligence reports by the New York Times claiming that President Assad would deploy such weapons if  fighting reached the centre of the Syrian capital.
By Taleb Ibrahim
According to CNN, quoting an anonymous American source, the Syrian regime is preparing the chemical compounds needed to manufacture Sarin, an extremely potent nerve agent which is banned under international law.
But does Syria have these weapons?
In August, a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Minister, Jihad al-Maqdisi, announced that Syria not only possesses chemical weapons, but is prepared to use them if necessary. In the wake of international condemnation, al-Maqdisi retracted the statement and a few days later even denied that Syria has  chemical weapons. Last week, Al-Maqdisi defected. 
In an exclusive interview with RNW, Naser Abu Dan, a chemical weapons expert familiar with his country’s biological warfare programme, stated that Syria no longer possesses these arms. But he added that in the past, the Syrian regime had attempted without success to obtain the technology needed to produce these weapons.
Storage and shelf life
Abu Dan said Syria developed a programme to produce small amounts of chemical weapons with the help of French and German companies. The project ultimately failed because Syrian experts were unable to find a location to store large quantities of gas.
According to Abu Dan, the chemical components have a shelf life of less than six months, after which they become ineffective. It is extremely complicated and highly expensive to dispose of them afterwards. Abu Dan believes that Syria’s main allies, Russia and Iran, are unwilling to supply the regime with chemical weapons because it is not in their current interests.
Penetrating the inner circle
One of the main figures in the Syrian chemical weapons programme was Adnan al-Hobel, the head of the Chemistry Depart of the Syrian Scientific Research Centre in Damascus. In the late 1990s, says Abu Dhan, the Syrian authorities accused al-Hobel of spying for Israel and executed him. This led Syria to close down its chemical weapons programme and look into developing other types of weapons.
But Abu Dan says this wasn’t the end of the story. The authorities recently arrested another chemical weapons expert, Saleh Najm. He underwent treatment for cancer in France, after being exposed to nerve gas. It’s believed that Najm contacted foreign intelligence officials during his stay in France and passed on information about Syria’s chemical weapons programme. This led to his recent arrest in Syria.
Negotiating tool?
According to Abu Dan, neither the Syrian regime nor the opposition possess chemical weapons. But he thinks that by revealing its past biological warfare programme, President Bashar al-Assad could improve his bargaining position if his regime comes under further threat. This could backfire however as the threat of chemical warfare could also provide Western nations with a justification to intervene in the conflict.  


Walsh 26 August 2014 - 5:57am
Walsh 26 August 2014 - 5:56am
dannyjames 15 October 2013 - 10:47am

I believe that the Syrian regime do not have aby access to the chemical weapons. If they had them they would have used it against their threats many times before itself. This would just be a tactic for the government to make the people live in fear of the unknown. 

shagydeep 11 March 2013 - 2:13pm

I am bit confused if Syria has chemical weapon then they will used it previously and America had also take some serious steps against it so the moral of the story is Syria is only giving warning to America... 

Anonymous 11 December 2012 - 7:04am / Canada

It must be that some one told the ameriKKKans that Syria has MORE oil
than first believed.
So of course good old U$$A is ramping up the fiction about
Syria, just as was done with IRAQ.

Remember Lybia?
U$$A got NATO to strike at so called terrorists (QUADAFY's).
And no one has been able to tell the world how ameriKKKans were able to tell which dead bodies were the Quadafy terrists and which were the
anti Quadafy civilians.

With the murder of Quadafy ameriKKKa can claim that they did the
world a favour. In actual fact it was ameriKKKan revenge because Quadafy
deposed the ameriKKKan sock puppet dictator, and threw the ameriKKKan OIL

Does any one remember the name HALIBURTON(of Dick Cheney fame)?
Seems that Haliburton was the dictator's favourite oil thief in
in Libya the early 70s.

Any guess who is now
in Libya stealing Libyan oil??

Joe Peschi 7 December 2012 - 11:46pm / Canada

For the first time, I think there is a credible claim to validity of endtimes prophecy, given what is happening in that volatile region at the moment.

Vera Gottlieb 7 December 2012 - 6:08pm / Switzerland

The same pack of lies as with the WMD during the Iraq crisis? As Goebbels said...repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it. Any lie will do in order to justify more wars?

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