The Washington Post reports: U.S. and Russian officials now believe that the vast majority of Syria’s nerve agent stockpile consists of “unweaponized” liquid precursors that could be neutralized relatively quickly, lowering the risk that the toxins could be hidden away by the regime or stolen by terrorists.
A confidential assessment by the United States and Russia also concludes that Syria’s entire arsenal could be destroyed in about nine months, assuming that Syrian officials honor promises to cede control of the chemical assets to international inspectors, according to two people briefed on the analysis.
The assessment, thought to be the most authoritative to date, reflects the consensus view of Russian and U.S. analysts who compared their governments’ intelligence on Syria during meetings in Geneva this month. The Obama administration has since briefed independent experts on the key findings.
The insights into Syria’s arsenal have been bolstered further by the Damascus government’s own accounting, which lists the types of chemical agents and delivery systems it possesses, and was presented Saturday to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. U.S. officials have reviewed the Syrian inventory, which has not been publicly released, and “found it quite good,” a senior State Department official told reporters. [Continue reading…]