chemical weapons

Labor
8:37 am
Fri February 28, 2014

More Staff Reduction At Umatilla Depot As Site Nears Final Cleanup

Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot are focused now on environmental sampling to make sure the site of the chemical incinerator is now clean.
Hal McCune URS

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 6:45 am

The Umatilla Chemical Depot is letting go of 60 more workers. Just 100 remain, down from more than 800 a few years ago.

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Nobel Peace Prize
7:41 am
Fri October 11, 2013

What You Need To Know About The Group That Won The Nobel

U.N. chemical weapons experts carry samples collected on Aug. 28 from a site of an alleged chemical weapons attack near the Syrian capital Damascus. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is dismantling Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 8:40 am

The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2013 peace prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a group that's only recently been thrust into the spotlight as it works to dismantle Syria's chemical program.

The OPCW, which is based at the Hague, was established in 1997 and now has an annual budget of $100 million and a staff of about 500 people. Here's a profile of the group.

Where is the OPCW working?

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Syria Crisis
2:27 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Why Does Russia Believe The Rebels Used Chemical Weapons In Syria?

UN inspectors in Syria have been investigating the use of chemical weapons.
AP Photo/STR

The United Nations General Assembly opened this week and on the top of the agenda is the crisis in Syria. UN weapons inspectors said that based on their investigation, chemical weapons were definitely used in an August 21 attack of a city on the outskirts of Damascus.

While many officials believe evidence points to Bashar al-Assad's government as being the perpetrator of the attack, Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that the UN and Western officials have incorrectly tied the Syrian government to that attack.

Fred Weir is the Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, he explains why Russia is still blaming the Syrian rebels for the chemical weapons attack.

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International Community
11:00 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Reaction In The Middle East To Syria

The United Nations inspectors say they have convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used in a large scale attack in Syria last month. In a report released earlier today the inspectors said the samples they collected from an area of Damascus provided clear and convincing evidence that the nerve agent sarin was used.

The inspectors were not charged with determining who launched the chemical weapons. The news closely follows this weekend’s announcement that Russia and the United States had reached agreement on a framework for Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program. The United States and its allies say military force is still a possibility if Syria fails to follow through on its agreement. Meanwhile the war in Syria continues.

Borzou Daragahi has been covering events in the Middle East for the Financial Times. He’s based in Cairo. He explains what the reaction in the Middle East has been to the announcement that Syria would give up its chemical weapons.

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Syria Stockpile
1:59 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Dismantling Chemical Weapons In Umatilla, Ore.

The international community may soon be charged with the destruction of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons stockpile. After the US and Russia, Syria is assumed to have the world’s third largest stock of sarin, mustard gas and other toxic weapons.

The US began the process of destroying its chemical weapons in the 1990s, after it signed the International Chemical Weapons Treaty. Umatilla, Ore., was once home to one of the nine US Army installations that house chemical weapons. Umatilla staff successfully finished the process of dismantling that weapons stockpile in October of 2011.

Our Richland correspondent Anna King explains how they went about the process of destroying chemical weapons.

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Syria Crisis
9:51 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Obama: American Ideals, National Security At Stake In Syrian Crisis

President Obama addresses the nation in a live televised speech from the East Room of the White House on Tuesday.
Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 8:18 pm

In a prime-time speech that followed two weeks of high-stakes drama, President Obama asked the American people to support a military strike against Syria, even as he pursued a diplomatic solution to the standoff.

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International Diplomacy
3:42 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Syria Agrees To Get Rid Of Their Chemical Weapons. Now What?

Protest in New York City from September 8, 2013.
Credit Flickr Photo/Debra Sweet

After an off-the-cuff suggestion by Secretary of State John Kerry, President Bashar al-Assad’s government has accepted a Russian plan to turn over their chemical weapons. The significance of this agreement is “huge” according to Joseph Cirincione, the president of Ploughshares Fund and member of Secretary Kerry’s International Security Advisory Board. He explains what the prospects of this plan working are and how the international community might go about seizing Syria’s chemical weapons.

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Diplomatic Solutions
5:06 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Breakthrough? Syria Hints It Might Give Up Chemical Weapons

In Washington, D.C., this week, there have been demonstrations both in favor of and against a military strike on targets in Syria. Outside the White House on Monday, supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad waved a Syrian flag with his face on it.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 1:04 pm

(We most recently updated this post at 4:02 p.m. ET.)

Amid reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad may be willing to give up his chemical weapons, as his strongest ally has suggested he do, the Obama administration expressed skepticism Tuesday.

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Chemical Weapons
11:14 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Chemical Weapons: What They Are And Why They're Different

Congress returned to Washington, D.C., today with Syria at the forefront of its agenda. Lawmakers will debate a resolution on military intervention against Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons.

To take a step back, Ross Reynolds talks with Dr. Raymond Zilinskas, director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies about chemical weapons — what they are and why they are considered a different class than conventional weapons. 

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Military Tactics
9:38 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Why Do Chemical Weapons Evoke Such A Strong Reaction?

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 2:22 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It took more than two years and at least 100,000 lives lost for the U.S. government to threaten Syria with military action. The catalyst was the Syrian military's alleged use of chemical weapons. President Obama called the attack on August 21st an assault on human dignity.

NPR's Jackie Northam examines why chemical weapons evoke such a strong and different reaction than conventional weapons.

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US Military Action
4:39 am
Wed September 4, 2013

In Europe, Obama Will Seek Support For Syria Strike

President Obama as he emerged from Air Force One early Wednesday in Stockholm.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 8:49 am

President Obama landed in Sweden on Wednesday — the start of a European trip that will take him to Russia for a summit of world leaders at which he'll try to build support for his plan to strike targets inside Syria.

As The Washington Post says, it's a "high-stakes trip ... that could show whether the United States has broad international backing for action."

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The Two-Way
11:31 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Obama Says He's Not Made Final Decision On Syria

President Obama delivers a statement on Syria during a meeting with Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite at the White House in Washington on Friday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 12:17 pm

Speaking during a photo op with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania today, President Obama said he has not made a final decision on launching a military strike on Syria.

But Obama echoed the case made earlier by Secretary of State John Kerry that chemical weapons in Syria threaten U.S. national security interests and that the use of chemical weapons is the "kind of offense that is a challenge to the world."

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Syria Crisis
4:50 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Striking Syria Still Seems A Question Of When, Not Whether

At the White House, President Obama and his advisers continue to work to build support in Congress and among allies for striking Syria.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 10:54 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tom Bowman reports.

Though Great Britain won't be joining in any military action aimed at Syria, it appears the White House is determined to go ahead — most likely within the next few days and most likely with missile strikes.

We'll be following the news throughout the day and over the weekend. As Friday dawns, here's where things stand:

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Syria Crisis
8:47 am
Thu August 29, 2013

British PM David Cameron Makes Case For Military Action In Syria

US Ambassador Samantha Power talks with British delegate Michael Tatham in the UN Security Council, Aug. 29, 2013. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Inspection team in Syria is expected to complete its work Friday and report to him Saturday.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

Britain could launch strikes against the Syrian regime without the backing of the United Nations, according to its own legal advice.

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Parallels
7:35 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Limited U.S. Strikes ... Followed By Major Attacks On U.S.

A month after U.S. naval ships shelled Lebanon, Muslim extremists blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel on Oct. 23, 1983. Over the past three decades, limited U.S. military strikes have been followed on several occasions by major attacks against U.S. targets.
Bill Foley AP

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 2:23 pm

As President Obama weighs a possible limited military strike against Syria, he may want to consider the track record of his predecessors on this front. It's not encouraging.

The Obama administration and several before it have seen limited attacks as a way to send a tough message without drawing the U.S. into a larger conflict.

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