Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Russian aid convoy drives into Ukraine

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Gunmen kill scores in Iraqi Sunni mosque attack

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

France

The challenge of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-10

In a bid to solve the impasse of how to react to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, Russia has proposed the country’s stockpile be handed over for international supervision and dismantlement. But is it a workable solution?

Dismantling Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international supervision – as mooted by Russia – would pose fundamental difficulties and could take years to accomplish.

On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Damascus had "already agreed" to the Russian proposal.

But destroying these weapons poses  practical problems.

Firstly, it would require knowing the precise location of the stockpiles, believed to be in dozens of sites across Syria – an aspect on which France has expressed considerable reservations despite its judgment that Moscow’s proposed solution is, in theory, workable.

“This would be an extremely difficult operation to organise and execute,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Europe 1 radio on Tuesday. “We know that Syria has more than 1,000 tonnes of chemical weapons.”

He added  that any dismantling would have to take place under strict international supervision.

FRANCE 24’s International Affairs Editor Gauthier Rybinski noted: “And if the regime has hidden these weapons away, how could the international community be 100 percent sure they had found all of them and destroyed them accordingly?”

Buying time to ‘kill more Syrians’

Even if Assad agreed to Russia's proposal,  allowing international inspectors to remove such arms from his reach while rebel fighters continue to push for the fall of his government would present major difficulties.

"It's hard for me to imagine how this could happen in the middle of a civil war,"  Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, told AFP.
"This is a very difficult engineering task. It requires facilities to be built to destroy the weapons."

This would require a long-term international presence to track the process, said Kimball: "It's not something you want to do with the threat of mortar shells hitting the area."

Khaled Saleh, spokesman for the main opposition Syrian National Coalition, criticised the proposal, saying Assad would be unlikely to follow through and would use the step to "buy more time to kill more Syrians”.

Along with Angola, North Korea, Egypt and South Sudan, Syria did not ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention  that came into force in 1997, outlawing stockpiling of sarin and the VX nerve agent, which are believed to constitute a large part of Syria’s chemical arsenal.


Date created : 2013-09-10

  • FRANCE-SYRIA

    France to float UN resolution on Syria chemical weapons

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Rights group blames Syrian regime for chemical attack

    Read more

  • RUSSIA - SYRIA

    Russia urges Syria to hand over chemical weapons

    Read more

COMMENT(S)