U.S. and Russian officials have said the vast majority of Syria’s nerve agent stockpile consists of ‘unweaponized’ liquid precursors that could be neutralized relatively quickly.
The comments from the officials have lowered 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 concluded that Syria’s entire arsenal could be destroyed in about nine months.
The assumption reveals that Syrian officials honor promises to cede control of the chemical assets to international inspectors.
According to the Washington Post, the assessment reflects the consensus view of Russian and U.S. analysts who compared their governments’ intelligence on Syria during meetings in Geneva this month.
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, the report said.
The White House declined to comment on the assessments, which have been kept under wraps amid intense negotiations at the United Nations on a plan for dismantling Syria’s chemical stockpile, it added.
In private briefings to weapons experts, White House officials said analysts had concluded that Syria possesses more than 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, of which about 300 metric tons are sulfur mustard, the blister agent used in World War I.
According to the report, nearly all of the remainder consists of chemical precursors of nerve agents, described as being ‘unweaponized’ and in ‘liquid bulk’ form, two people who attended the White House briefings said.