Chemical weapons – a real threat or a paper tiger ?

Chemical weapons went back on the front of war statements between Washington and Damascus. Meanwhile, the armed clashes in Syria are closer to the capital of the country.

US President Barack Obama warned Syrian President Bashar Assad, not to approve the use of chemical weapons against armed opposition fighting his regime.
map_syria_neighbors_roads_620_120822“Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching” Obama said. “The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable” he warned.

Earlier, during her trip to Prague, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the warning and said the use of chemical weapons would constitute the crossing of a red line for the US. “Once again we issue a very strong warning” she said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Speaking to reporters, Clinton declined to say how the U.S. would react in the event of “credible evidence” that the Assad regime intended to use, or had used them CBS news reported.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that according to AFP, an unnamed US official claimed the regime has already begun mixing chemicals that can be used to make deadly sarin gas. “We’ve picked up several indications which lead us to believe that they’re combining chemical precursors” the anonymous source is reported to have said. An US official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin earlier Monday that there are indications Assad’s regime has issued orders to combine the necessary ingredients to make the material, which are usually stored separately. “There is concern Syria is making chemical weapons material ready for use” a senior U.S. official separately told Martin. The two officials spoke after reports surfaced that U.S. and allied intelligence have detected Syrian movement of chemical weapons components in recent days.

The Syrian government has denied even possessing chemical or biological weapons. It is worth mentioning that Western experts think that Syria is believed to have hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, a blistering agent and the more lethal nerve agents sarin and VX. However, it is difficult to say exactly in this moment if Assad’s chemical weapons are a real threat, a pretext for military foreign intervention or a paper tiger (very good for media reports !).

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