• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Experts speak out on chem weapons

From the Institute for Public Accuracy today:

Eryl Nassruns the Anthrax Vaccine blog and recently wrote:

Only seven nations are not parties to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Israel and Myanmar (formerly Burma) signed but failed to ratify the 1993 agreement. Five other nations failed to sign it: Syria, South Sudan, North Korea, Angola and Egypt.

Nations who are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention agreed to destroy all their chemical weapons by May 2012, but most have failed to meet that deadline, including the United States. Furthermore, it is by no means certain that all nations possessing chemical weapons declared them, so information on existing stocks of such weapons is incomplete.

Had the 189 nations who are members of the OPCW complied with the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention's required destruction of chemical weapons, there would be many fewer such weapons available for transfer and use. Unfortunately, the 2007 deadline for complete destruction was missed, as was the (final) extension to 2012 missed. So the U.S. and other nations are not in compliance with their responsibility and promise to destroy all their chemical weapons by last year.

So when Obama says that we know Syria's Assad has chemical weapons, Assad could be saying the same thing about us!"

See: "U.N. Chief Urges Full Chemical Disarmament by 2018," which notes: "The United States presently intends to wrap up destruction of its chemical arms by 2023."

Jacqueline Cabasso is executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, which focuses on weapons of mass destruction. They just released the briefing paper "The Rush to Bomb Syria: Undermining International Law and Risking Wider War," which states:

It is hard to see how breaking solemn undertakings to most of the countries in the world by neglecting treaties and principles of international law that the United States has agreed to will either bolster U.S. 'credibility' or enhance respect for international law. ...

International law provides no exception for the ad hoc use of force by states in cases involving the actual or possible use of prohibited weapons, such as chemical weapons, by states with which they are not at war. Standing alone, the allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government do not provide a legal basis for military action by any non-party to the conflict. 

Unilateral punitive strikes justified as a defense of the global norm against chemical weapons are unlikely to actually protect Syrians or others against use of chemical weapons and other attacks, may do little to reinforce the norm or even undermine it, and could lead to a significant increase in the level of violence throughout the region. 

There are viable international ways and means to respond to the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria that should be vigorously pursued before the use of force is considered.

 

Stephen Zunes is professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco and said today:

Syria, when it had a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council in 2007, introduced a draft resolution to create a weapons of mass destruction zone for the entire Middle East, but the United States blocked it.

Zunes notes that this would have included addressing Egypt's chemical weapons and Israel's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. 

He recently wrote the piece "The U.S. and Chemical Weapons: No Leg to Stand On," which states:

The first country to allegedly use chemical weapons in the Middle East was Great Britain in 1920, as part of its efforts to put down a rebellion by Iraqi tribesmen when British forces seized the country following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. According to Winston Churchill, who then held the position of Britain’s Secretary of State for War and Air, 'I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.'