Never before has a country with Weapons of Mass Destruction been on the verge of collapse, says an arms control expert who argues for regional coordination to prevent a catastrophe.
Presently it remains unclear what, if anything at all, the Assad regime is planning to do with its chemical weapons – just as likely as readying them for use, it could be that the regime was moving them to a more secure location, say analysts.
As Syria slips deeper into chaos, the issue of its chemical weapons is acquiring new dimensions that arms control experts say could lead to a situation either catastrophic, such as the weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or being used inside Syria, or their safe destruction.
“This is an unprecedented situation. Never before has a country armed with WMDs been on the verge of collapse,” says Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “We are in uncharted territory here and it’s going to require a great deal of coordination between the United States, the countries bordering Syria, and the international community and the Assad regime, and the international community and the rebels to make sure the situation does not become catastrophic.”
The scope of Syria’s chemical weapons cache is unknown, but believed to be substantial. Nerve gases are among the deadliest weapons in the arsenal, particularly sarin gas. Such chemical agents can be attached to missiles and artillery pieces and are fatal when inhaled.