Dangerous toxic precursors were destroyed in Syria without transport and the massive costs in money and lives. Why not destroy the Mustard agent there, too?
With just 11% of Syria’s chemical weapons (CW) stockpile removed from Syria and all deadlines and targets well behind us, it is time to reconsider this failing plan. The OPCW is currently awarding contracts to destroy toxic chemicals that may never get out of Syria. The US MV Cape Ray is now in Europe poised to destroy the Syrian CW stockpile, but with little likelihood of seeing any chemicals coming out of the country any time soon. What is a success is the destruction of 93% of Sarin precursor Isopropronal in Syria. This was executed by the Syrian Regime and verified by the OPCW last week, but it is virtually unreported or acknowledged. This is especially unfortunate because there is a model for success here, which has the benefits of being simpler, legal and inexpensive. The International Community’s current plan is, conversely, hugely complex, expensive, unworkable and illegal–as far as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is concerned. Clearly time to look at better options.
My company, SecureBio, has been advocating since November 2013 that a major review of the plan is required because the situation is so fluid–and assumptions made in October 2013 were swiftly becoming invalid. Now the plan that needed reviewing in November has, in February 2014, become largely irrelevant. Of key significance is the now known presence of only 30 tonnes of CW in the form of Mustard agent–a much smaller cache than originally believed. All the rest are chemical precursors which are just toxic chemicals. Hence, our suggestion to adhere to the CWC which states CW should be destroyed by the owner of the CW on its own territory. That this can be achieved is now proved with the Isoproponal destruction. The same model should be followed for destroying the rest. SecureBio has suggested workable methods for Mustard destruction in Syria to the UK Government and others. The SecureBio method would take a few weeks and cost a fraction of the estimated $100m cost for the present plan. Time is of the essence, of course. Each time the regime blasts a route to Latakia to move a few tonnes of CW for destruction elsewhere, innocent civilians are dying. (Some agencies estimate over 60,000 people have been killed ‘conventionally’ since the Ghouta CW attack of August 21, 2013.) It is now time to act in the interests of these innocent Syrians and not the reputations of some governments and international bodies.