Where is Hersh’s secret Turkish chemical weapons factory?

Dan Kaszeta writes: [O]f all Hersh’s claims, his biggest evidentiary pitfall is in the Turkish Sarin hypothesis. Somehow, Hersh would have us all believe that there is a large factory somewhere in Turkey, a member of NATO and signatory to the OPCW. A factory of the necessary size to make tons of short-shelf life binary Sarin would be huge, at least similar in scale to the UK’s pilot plant that once stood in Nancekuke, Cornwall. It would have many employees, a supply chain of controlled and prohibited chemicals, and a waste stream that would be noticed. Where is this factory? Let us have an OPCW challenge inspection.

More importantly, would Turkey risk the international opprobrium to produce a weapon that, after all, has only limited actual tactical use? Somehow, this Sarin was produced, using a secret hexamine acid reduction process hitherto unknown to the world, and only mastered by Syria’s chemical weapons program. It was put into rockets that are exact copies of Syrian ones, down to the paint and bolts. The Sarin-filled rockets were smuggled via the “rat line” into Syria to Damascus, without a single one being caught. And quickly, I should add, due to the short shelf life of binary Sarin. Then they were supposed to be fired onto rebel areas from government positions without the Syrian regime knowing about it? It defies belief.

Finally, we get to the biggest deficit of all. Seymour Hersh seems unencumbered by the fact that the Assad regime confessed to having a chemical weapons research, development, and production program. Which is the more likely scenario? The Turkish-produced Sarin tale, which relies on a very dubious “inside source” in Washington and no accompanying physical evidence? Or the idea that the Assad regime, using a chemical warfare agent made according to a formula they confessed to, used rockets in their own inventory to attack from their own positions against rebel-held territory? History will tell us, eventually. But one of these tales is sounding more probable than the other.

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4 thoughts on “Where is Hersh’s secret Turkish chemical weapons factory?

  1. rackstraw

    Scenario A) Russia invades Crimea in order to preserve access to it’s only warm-water port, or so it claims.

    Scenario B) Russia invades Ukraine proper for whatever reason.

    Are A and B compatible?

    Well, Turkey controls the straits that lead from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. A glance at a map shows why it would be impossible for Russia to force a passage through the long and narrow Turkish straits without going to war with Turkey, a NATO ally, in order to control territory bordering the straits, for at least a hundred miles on either side of the straits.

    The 1936 Montreux Convention gives special transit privileges to the states bordering the Black Sea, including Russia, in peacetime.

    In case of war between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, Turkey could and probably would close the straits to Russia, and the Montreaux regime would be suspended, perhaps permanently.

    A and B cannot be reconciled. Crimea is of no use to Russia unless it also has access to the Mediterranean.

  2. Paul Woodward

    The comment function is not provided for readers to create their own soapbox. Anyone who leaves a comment that has nothing to do with the post under which it appears, should expect to see their comment deleted.

  3. Chet

    “History will tell us, eventually. But one of these tales is sounding more probable than the other.”

    I totally agree, we really don’t know the truth and, hopefully, we’ll find out the truth but probably not from our government. While one tale may be more probable than the other, it depends upon who you think is more credible.

    Neither Kaszeta nor Hersh have degrees in chemistry to make definitive claims about the sarin: Kaszeta’s degrees are in political science and Hersh’s in history. Kaszeta has a long history of working for the U.S. government and is now an independent consultant (unemployed?) on security matters while Hersh has spent his career as an investigative journalist.

    It’s suggested that Hersh’s dubious information is from one government source with no hard evidence while Kaszeta provides only skepticism regarding the role of Turkey, no actual facts disputing Hersh just opinion.

    Yes, one tale is sounding more likely.

  4. Paul Woodward

    “One tale is sounding more likely.” Indeed. If we reduce the debate to the two currently contested possibilities, the chemical attacks were either carried out by the government which at that time possessed the world’s largest documented CW stockpiles, or, Jabhat al-Nusra whose possession of a chemical weapons program of any size is at this time a matter of conjecture. Those sound like such evenly balanced odds, I doubt that even Nate Silver would venture a guess which scenario is more probable.

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