U.S. and Russia Say Majority of Syrian Chemical Arsenal Is “Unweaponized”

Confidential assessments of Assad’s toxic cache bodes well for its quick neutralization

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Carlo Allegri / Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) speaks to France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during an administrial meeting of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People during 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2013.

Both American and Russian officials have claimed that getting rid of the Syrian government’s stockpile of chemical weapons may not be as hard as previously thought.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the “vast majority” of President Bashar Assad’s illicit arsenal of nerve agents is believed to consist of “unweaponized liquid precursors” that can be neutralized in approximately nine months time.

The revelation came as Russian and American officials hammered out a draft deal that provides a framework for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. The U.N. Security Council reviewed the draft on Thursday night and could vote on a resolution as early as Friday.

(MORE: Diplomacy Imperils Washington’s Allies in Syria)

Earlier this week, President Bashar Assad complained of the strain his government faced over the cost of neutralizing its chemical arsenal.

“In Syria there are thousands of tons of chemical weapons that have become a burden to us, since their destruction costs a great deal of money and could take years,” said Assad in an interview with Arabic daily Al-Akhbar.

Assad said that his father’s government assembled the chemical stockpile in the 1980s as a deterrent against Israel. However, the weapons were now a hindrance and no longer a deterrent, he said.

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