15 February 2012

Trying to Keep Chemical, SAM Weapons Off the Market

The Syria implosion is being watched carefully for at least one lesson learned from Libya: keep track of the chemical weapons and SAMs.
The U.S. and its allies are closely monitoring Syria's stockpiles of chemical arms and portable anti-aircraft missiles, a State Department official says, amid concerns that the country's unconventional weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist or militant groups while the 11-month-old uprising continues.
"Syria is a country of significant proliferation concern, so we monitor its chemical weapons activities very closely," the State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence-related matters. "We believe Syria's chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control, and we will continue to work closely with like-minded countries to impede proliferation (of) Syria's chemical weapons program."
The official added that the U.S. is in discussion with its allies on ways to ensure that Syria's stockpile of portable anti-aircraft missiles, called Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS, aren't stolen or diverted. "We are consulting with allies and partners as we plan for a variety of contingencies," the official said.
Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, have been critical of U.S. efforts to secure Libya's chemical and unconventional arsenals, saying the Obama administration should have responded more quickly during that crisis and now faces the task of trying to account for thousands of missing portable anti-aircraft missiles.

By: Brant

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