Friday, July 24, 2015

24-Jul-15: If the Iranians read the Wall Street Journal, we're all in deep trouble

Iran nuclear deal acclaimed: last week's
newspaper covers in Teheran [Image Source]
Barely a year after the successful elimination of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, it's now being revealed to the shock-horror-astonishment of Western media and observers that... the Syrians failed to surrender the chemical weapons they said they were surrendering. And that they told teensie-weensie lies to get the United States and the other interested Western parties off their backs.

As a spine-chilling, lengthy analytical report published yesterday ["Mission to Purge Syria of Chemical Weapons Comes Up Short", Wall Street Journal | Adam Entous and Naftali Bendavid | July 23, 2015] shows, the wily Syrian regime is now, today, right at this moment, holding onto caches of deadly nerve agents which they
"may be prepared to use... if government strongholds are threatened by Islamist fighters. If the regime collapses outright, such chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic State or another terror group." [Wall Street Journal]
Bashar al-Assad of Syria, alleged liar [Image Source]
The details, and there is a long list of them, make for terribly depressing reading. Here are just some (all are direct quotes from the WSJ piece):
  • “Nobody should be surprised that the regime is cheating,” says Robert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria under President Barack Obama. He says more intrusive inspections are needed...
  • Inspectors from The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, together with U.N. personnel, arrived in Damascus in October 2013 to an especially difficult work environment... Because the regime was responsible for providing security, it had an effective veto over inspectors’ movements. The team decided it couldn’t afford to antagonize its hosts, explains one of the inspectors, or it “would lose all access to all sites.”
  • [The right to inspect sites that the Syrians were not offering] was never exercised, in part, inspectors and Western officials say, because their governments didn’t want a standoff with the regime.
  • Syrian scientists showed them [the inspectors] rooms with test tubes, Bunsen burners and desktop computers, according to inspectors. The Syrians gave a PowerPoint presentation detailing the medical and agricultural research they said went on there. A Syrian general insisted that the Assad regime had nothing to hide. As the international inspectors suspected back then, it was a ruse, part of a chain of misrepresentations by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to hide the extent of its chemical-weapons work. 
  • [T]he Syrian regime controlled where inspectors went, what they saw and, in turn, what they accomplished. That happened in large part because of the ground rules under which the inspectors were allowed into the country...
  • Among the biggest surprises for the inspectors was Syria’s fleet of mobile chemical-weapons production facilities, housed on 18-wheeler trucks. They looked so much like regular trucks that they even carried advertisements, including one for a Hungarian moving company. [One of the expert inspectors] says it was “unlike any other program that I’ve seen or read about.”
  • The Syrians laid out the ground rules. Inspectors could visit only sites Syria had declared, and only with 48-hour notice. Anything else was off-limits, unless the regime extended an invitation. “We had no choice but to cooperate with them... The huge specter of security would have hampered us had we gone in there very aggressively or tried to do things unilaterally.
  • According to the WSJ, the Syrians used disguised trucks to 
    conceal their chemical weaponry. Who would have imagined it? 
    [Image Source]
  • [Following] recent battlefield gains by Islamic State militants and rival al Qaeda-linked fighters [it's] even more urgent to determine what Syria held back from last year’s mass disposal, and where it might be hidden... The team that visited the SSRC facility in Damascus recently asked the regime for information about unaccounted for munitions. Officials say there has been no response from Damascus. “Accountability?” asks Mr. Cairns, the inspector. “At this point in time, it hasn’t happened.”
In these fraught days, we're watching a major effort by the Obama government to get the US Congress - and the world - to buy into the idea that an agreement, unsigned and devoid of almost all leverage and sanctions, is going to produce a peace-embracing effect in Iran.

It's hard not to see direct parallels between Syria and the Iran Nuclear Enablement Deal™ when you read paragraphs like this one:
The White House and State Department say last year’s mission was a success even if the regime hid some deadly chemicals. Western nations removed 1,300 metric tons of weapons-grade chemicals, including ingredients for nerve agents sarin and VX, and destroyed production and mixing equipment and munitions. U.S. officials say the security situation would be far more dangerous today if those chemicals hadn’t been removed, especially given recent battlefield gains by Islamists. Demanding greater access and fuller disclosures by the regime, they say, might have meant getting no cooperation at all, jeopardizing the entire removal effort... [Wall Street Journal]
We're hoping that no-one over there in Teheran has a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Because, if they do, and if they get it into their heads to follow the Iranian-client-state-Syria's template, they might eventually end up telling lies about their nuclear weaponization and understate their deployment plans. 

And then where would the world be?

No comments: