US intelligence: Syria could activate chem weapons in less than two hoursSyria mixed chemical weapons, which it still retains. The US was informed about this by - who else - Israeli intelligence, and a combination of the US, Russia, the Arab countries and the EU got Assad to back off. But Assad retains the weapons. The German intelligence agency believes they're deliverable in 4-6 hours, but US intelligence takes that time down to less than two hours.
So now, the same group is debating whether to destroy the Syrian air force, thereby taking away Assad's ability to deliver the weapons. The result might be that the war in Syria ends, the weapons fall into the hands of the Islamic 'rebels' from which they are either fired into Israel, or shipped to Hezbullah to lob them over their border into Israel. Brilliant. Just brilliant (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
But the scare a month ago has renewed debate about whether the West should help the Syrian opposition destroy Mr. Assad’s air force, which he would need to deliver those 500-pound bombs.
The chemical munitions are still in storage areas that are near or on Syrian air bases, ready for deployment on short notice, officials said.
The Obama administration and other governments have said little in public about the chemical weapons movements, in part because of concern about compromising sources of intelligence about the activities of Mr. Assad’s forces. This account is based on interviews with more than half a dozen military, intelligence and diplomatic officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the intelligence matters involved.
The head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, warned in a confidential assessment last month that the weapons could now be deployed four to six hours after orders were issued, and that Mr. Assad had a special adviser at his side who oversaw control of the weapons, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported. Some American and other allied officials, however, said in interviews that the sarin-laden bombs could be loaded on planes and airborne in less than two hours.
“Let’s just say right now, it would be a relatively easy thing to load this quickly onto aircraft,” said one Western diplomat.
How the United States and Israel, along with Arab states, would respond remains a mystery. American and allied officials have talked vaguely of having developed “contingency plans” in case they decided to intervene in an effort to neutralize the chemical weapons, a task that the Pentagon estimates would require upward of 75,000 troops. But there have been no evident signs of preparations for any such effort.
The United States military has quietly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there, among other things, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons.
Remember the bad old days when that cowboy George W. Bush would have taken action without 'consulting' with the Russians, Europeans and Arab countries until we got to the point where there was real danger to us? Aren't you glad that now we have Obama who leads from behind? What could go wrong?Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was reported to have traveled to Jordan in recent weeks, and the Israeli news media have said the topic of discussion was how to deal with Syrian weapons if it appeared that they could be transferred to Lebanon, where Hezbollah could lob them over the border to Israel. But the plans, to the extent they exist, remain secret.