Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has failed to comply with international agreements that he turn over chemical weapons, and retains some 96% of his original stockpile, hoarding them in regions controlled by his Alawite ethnic group in case the country is partitioned, according to reports in the London Sunday Times and the Times of Israel. Russian diplomats urged the world to be patient even if Syria missed a June 30 compliance deadline.
According to a report from the Russian news agency Interfax, relayed by the BBC, an official in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Department said that Syria had been delayed “due to serious objective circumstances,” including waiting for an American ship to arrive in Italy to receive some chemical weapons material from a Scandinavian vessel that had only been insured to carry the cargo for a short time.
President Barack Obama assured Americans in his State of the Union address last week that “Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” However, virtually no one believes that to be true, even if Syria has committed in theory to complying with last year’s Russian-brokered agreement. In 2012, Obama had threatened military action if Syria crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons, yet did not follow through with any response.