Pedro Molina

Syria’s Chemical Genie

As dangerous as Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile is, its destructive potential does not compare to that of a nuclear arsenal. But, so far, the international community has failed to contain the risks posed by Syria’s chemical arsenal – inspiring little confidence in its capacity to handle an imminent nuclear threat.

LOS ANGELES – Since Syria’s civil war erupted, its large chemical-weapons arsenal has haunted the conflict zone and beyond. Now Israel says that chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian regime.

Escalating fears have driven US President Barack Obama to declare repeatedly that any Syrian use or transfer of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” for which President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would be “held accountable.” But the practical implications of this warning remain vague.

As dangerous as Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile is, it pales in comparison with another risk that became evident in late February, when Syrian rebels overran a Scud-missile base in Al-Kibar, in the country’s remote northeastern desert. Beneath the installation lay the buried remnants of the North Korean-engineered nuclear reactor that Israel’s air force had destroyed on September 6, 2007.

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