Prosor: Time to Take Action on Syria's Chemical Weapons
It is time for the United Nations Security Council to act, and not just talk, over the threat of Syrian chemical weapons, Israel's UN ambassador said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a special meeting of the UN Security Council on terrorism, ambassador Ron Prosor said that he was concerned about the possibility that Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons may fall into the hands of the Hizbullah terror group.
"The Security Council must act today, not tomorrow," he said. "It is our responsibility to prevent leakage of chemical weapons to terrorist groups. Too many decisions were made in this room but not implemented, so the Security Council must not be satisfied with words. There are times when lack of action is not an option."
Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, which dates back to the 1970s, is the biggest in the Middle East, but its precise scope remains unclear, according to analysts.
The country has hundreds of tons of various chemical agents, including sarin and VX nerve agents, as well as older blistering agents such as mustard gas, dispersed in dozens of manufacturing and storage sites, experts say.
U.S. officials recently said there was evidence that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's troops had not only moved deadly sarin gas that might be used against rebels, but also that its binary components, usually stored separately, had been combined and placed into bombs for use.
Doctors have said that Assad’s forces are probably also using “Agent 15,” which causes paralysis.
The United States and its allies, including Israel, have repeatedly expressed concern that Syria's stockpile could be stolen and fall into extremist hands or be transferred to the Hizbullah terror group by a crumbling Syrian regime.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week that the United States is increasingly focused on how to secure Syria's chemical weapons if President Bashar al-Assad falls from power.
Panetta said he would not consider sending ground troops into the war-torn country, even to secure chemical sites, but he left the door open to some U.S. military presence if Assad's downfall is followed by a peaceful transition.
U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Assad not to turn chemical weapons on his own people, saying "the use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable."
"If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable," he added.