A Russian plan to have international authorities secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons may have persuaded the Obama administration to stand down from its intention to carry out a limited military attack on the Assad regime, but is the plan viable? It would not be the first time a country’s arsenal of chemical weapons has been decommissioned; yet, as experience shows, it would not be an easy task.
“There’s no such thing as a guarantee,” says Brian Finlay, an expert on chemical weapons at the Stimson Center, a security-analysis institution in Washington. And that’s not only because the Syrians may hide things.
“Because the precursors to the CW are benign chemicals with other legitimate uses,” said Mr. Finlay, “you can never be sure that an innocuous cosmetic company, for example, isn’t secretly mixing up a new batch of CW.”
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