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View Diary: Syria's Chemical Weapons Declaration (37 comments)

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  •  It will not be done on the schedule proposed (0+ / 0-)

    That is virtually impossible. Weapons and facilities on this scale typically take decades to safely destroy, the US has been working on it's stockpile for 38 years and is still years from completion.

    Not to mention that Syria is a war zone and the people responsible to supervise the inspections and destruction are wondering, now, who will protect them.

    If you can cite cases where CW on the scale of Syria have been destroyed in less than a year, please post links to the information, I'd be really interested to read it.

    TO be frank, your claim is a bit optimistic and theoretical, but if you are right, then why is it taking the US so long to destroy what is now less than what Syria possesses?

    •  The idea is that the CW can be removed (0+ / 0-)

      by the middle of next year, and the critical mixing and loading equipment and the stock of shells destroyed. Actual destruction of the CW can be done outside Syria on whatever schedule the OPCW and participating countries agree on.

      Maybe, and maybe not. It depends on who agrees to what when, and who is willing to foot the bill and provide people and equipment.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:57:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can you give me some links for this? (0+ / 0-)

        This seems to be speculation on your part.

        The official documents released by the US State Department unambiguously state that all these weapons, facilities and materials must be destroyed by mid 2014.

        Consequentially, experts in the field express serious doubts because of: (a) the inherent hazards involved handling CW and precautions required; (b) conditions on the ground that surely complicate the situation and put inspectors at risk.

        If you haven't read the documents yourself perhaps you should do so before reporting as fact that the timeline specified in more flexible than stated, you could be digging yourself a hole.

      •  By the way (0+ / 0-)

        I have read all of the documents you linked in their entirety and they substantially support the questions I am raising.

        The agreement as it now stands requires complete destruction of all weapons, facilities and materials by mid-2014. Have a careful read yourself, I would not raise the issue if I had not already reviewed available information, I am a cautious and studious person.

        That is proposed outcome quite incredible given the circumstances and the pace at which such weapons have been destroyed under peaceful circumstances.

        They have to be removed from this environment.

        •  Yes, I see that in the joint US-Russian (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko

          statement. It doesn't make much sense without further information.

          On one hand, removal by mid-2014 seems to me good enough, although sooner is obviously better. We on the outside will have to wait to hear from OPCW what the schedule for removal and destruction might be.

          But on the other hand it may be that the US and Russia have agreed to supply systems for destroying the CW that would be up to the task, and they just haven't told us about them. There are certainly ways to destroy 10 or 20 tons of CW a day, and there are only supposed to be about 1000 tons of CW in Syria. And maybe the US and Russia have at least the outline of a plan for getting the CW out of Syria. So if the CW could be removed from 50 locations in, say, four months, December to March, and then destruction ran from January, when the first shipments would arrive, to June, it could possibly be done.

          Or something of the sort. We will hear more.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 10:05:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Seems the agreement is unraveling a bit (0+ / 0-)

            At least where sanctions are concerned.

            My assumption is there were not enough weapons inspectors in the room or the politicians were being a bit optimistic.

            Hence the "ambitious goals" as they put it.

            The problem I have with that is this is not a campaign promise for a chicken in every pot but a protocol to handle very dangerous weapons in a war zone and where delays could result in sanctions that upset the process with unnecessary political meddling as hairs are split about who did or didn't do whatever.

            So I'm hoping that in the UN, there is a reality check on the schedule and process because I think the desired outcome is simply destroy the weapons safely in as much time as it takes.

            To quote Einstein: "Things should be a simple as they need to be and not one bit simpler".

            I said "hoping".  Commons sense is often a precious commodity.

            On a practical level, the biggest problem immediate problem I see is security, not only is it a friggin war zone, but it's likely that plenty of people from either side would like to see this fail and would no doubt point in the opposite direction if anything happens.

            Ideally, you would occupy the country with substantial military forces but that's a non-starter here.

          •  Seems the agreement is unraveling a bit (0+ / 0-)

            At least where sanctions are concerned.

            My assumption is there were not enough weapons inspectors in the room or the politicians were being a bit optimistic.

            Hence the "ambitious goals" as they put it.

            The problem I have with that is this is not a campaign promise for a chicken in every pot but a protocol to handle very dangerous weapons in a war zone and where delays could result in sanctions that upset the process with unnecessary political meddling as hairs are split about who did or didn't do whatever.

            So I'm hoping that in the UN, there is a reality check on the schedule and process because I think the desired outcome is simply destroy the weapons safely in as much time as it takes.

            To quote Einstein: "Things should be a simple as they need to be and not one bit simpler".

            I said "hoping".  Common sense is often a precious commodity.

            On a practical level, the biggest immediate problem I see is security.  Not only is it a friggin war zone, but it's likely that plenty of people from either side would like to see this fail and would no doubt point in the opposite direction if anything happens.

            Ideally, you would occupy the country with substantial military forces but that's a non-starter here.

    •  The US stockpile was massive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mokurai

      As I recall, Syria's stockpile is less than most of the US sites. The HD at APG was destroyed in about two years using this technology(the reactor in the picture is from the APG demil site). they worked out the kinks in neutralization for everyone else.

      I prefer to see a destruction schedule slipping to having Syria's mixed binary on the loose in the middle of a civil war. Do you have a better solution that will get done in a year? Do you want to sign up to help the effort? I can put you in touch with people that are in charge of this program. The list is filling rapidly. Hazard pay and overtime for two years ought to buy you a nice house when you get back.

      About the cement kilns, international regs do not allow destruction of CWA in cement kilns, but precursors are permitted. Destroy the binary precursors in cement kilns and the mixed agent via caustic hydrolysis and things will move pretty quickly.

      •  No, I am questioning the practicality of doing so (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cheminMD

        The agreement between the US and Russia, as published by the Sate Department, clearly specified all weapons, facilities and materials must be destroyed, inside or outside Syria, by mid-2014.

        Experts in the field seem to be expressing universal doubt about that schedule, probably because it has never happened and the complications of a civil war only make it that much more unlikely.

        My position is the weapons must and can be destroyed, but that asks for a realistic plan with adequate time, not an arbitrary and over-simplified agreement designed to stress punitive action over practical necessity.

        Hopefully, the UN will hammer that out, the current agreement seems destined to fail if the stated terms are rigorously enforced.

        Maybe with some cooling-off time, politicians will come to their senses.

        •  I haven't read the Syrian disclosure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko

          Until we see that, we can't realistically comment on how long it might take. Any agreements right now are starting points.

          Here's a strawman scenario: Syria has V and G class agents in binary form. Only 1% of each class are mixed and only at one storage site. We could send in the EDS and the hydrolysis unit and get the job done in a year.

          Here's a bad strawman scenario: Syria has V, G, H, and lewisite, all as neat agent, all in corroding aluminum rounds, rounds and land mines. This would take a much longer time to destroy.

          I would prefer we setup a BFI (big fucking incinerator) and burn all the weapons. Syria doesn't have restrictions of transport across state lines like we do in the US, they can setup an incinerator in the middle of nowhere and tell people to move away, unlike the US.

          •  Right. (0+ / 0-)

            Your good scenario is one year not 8 months.

            Now factor in a civil war on the ground and the usual bad actors.

            That is my point. Time for a reality check on the politicians.

            I hope the US and Russia can stop bickering long enough to listen to the OPCW because common sense and history suggest this is not going to be smooth sailing.

            •  Let's find a starting point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koNko

              First, can we agree that Syria declaring to OPCW with the US and Russia assisting in destruction is a good thing?

              Second, the initial plan was setup by politicians, not the people that have to execute it. Can we agree that some details may have been overlooked?

              Next, any timeline that has been setup so far is a strawman until we know exactly how much agent vs binary, storage form and location has been declared by Syria.

              We haven't gone through the process of arguing whether or not Syria declared all their stockpiles in accordance with our intel, the Russian intel or any other players that want to get involved from the IC. This will take some time to sort out. Just because the US or Russia have Intel on what they think Syria did, doesn't mean that Syria actually did it. I haven't seen any numbers reported so far on what Syria has actually declared. How much was binary, how much was mixed/neat? How old are the containers/rounds/rockets? We could be venturing into "unknown unknowns" territory here.

              I expect timelines to slip, that's pretty common in chem demil. The argument is always "Would you rather have a timeline slip or have someone get bit?" 'Bit' being the industry slang for exposed with symptoms. Slipping timelines can be managed as long as progress is being made and we eventually get rid of the agent. Do you feel that slipping timelines mean that we should just quit and walk away? This isn't a business decision here, it's not about maximizing profits or cutting losses, all that matters is getting rid of the stuff safely.

              Oh, and about OPCW, they are merely observers, there to keep everyone in line. Their role will be set out from the beginning so that they observe certain quantitative points in the process and nothing more. They may only be allowed to view markings on a container through a video feed tied to the control room while sitting in the "treaty trailer", not actually be present in the control room. They will be escorted wherever they go inside the fence. They will not be permitted to wander, they can only ask certain question and will only be provided certain answers. If there is no need to have them near the agent container, it will be avoided. We don't need an international incident caused by a leaker.

              •  Of course we agree on the basics (0+ / 0-)

                Why I express concern is I don't want to see failure, but diplomacy leading to resolution.

                And I assume, to an extent, that the current agreement functions as a strawman, hence my remarks about reality checks at the next step.

                But what undermines my confidence at this point is the stridence of the US position, particularly Kerry (who I suppose is playing bad cop to some extent).

                But watching Obama's address to the UN now as I write, is, I'm afraid, not doing much to instill confidence. In so many words he just called for regime change in Syria on one hand while insisting the US does not seek it in Iran on the other, then pointing to Libya as an example of disposing a tyrant.

                Oh, and then he had to use the bully pulpit to take a personal shot at Putin's editorial. WTF? Dude, this is not the time to shoot 3 pointers. Decorum.

                My thought: Not wise statements if your goal is to convince Russians and Syrians to cooperate at this point.

                I really want to be optimistic and believe the real priority is to simply dispose of the weapons, but the UN speech verged on saber rattling again.

                I would give my right arm to be a fly on the wall in the meeting between the US and Russia later today, that is going to be tense.

                Prediction: 90% of Daily Kos member will have a much different take on this UN address than I do. But then, I'm part of the 2% of the site members that are not American so I guess my perspective is different. Got to accept the minority position here and now.

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