Syria’s Slow Sarin March

Almost half of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and all of the manufacturing equipment used in making them have been verified as destroyed by international observers, a State Department officials told lawmakers on Wednesday. “All of the sulfur mustard agent and some of the precursors for Sarin, the highest priority declared chemicals, have now been removed,” Anne Patterson, assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 26. Despite the fact that the Syrian government missed several “intermediate target dates,” State Department officials are confident Syria’s entire stockpile can be removed and destroyed by the June 30 deadline, said Thomas Countryman, assistant secretary in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. “After months of Syrian foot dragging, we have made [it] clear to the Asad regime that the internationally agreed upon schedule … is simply not up for negotiation; the regime has all the equipment that it needs and has run out of excuses,” testified Countryman in the same hearing.