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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow Warns Against Wrong Use of WMD Claim

RIA Novosti

14:30 29/04/2013 MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow believes using the issue of the alleged deployment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Syrian conflict to attain geopolitical goals is unacceptable, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

“Perhaps there are some states that believe any methods are good as long as they can help overthrow the Syrian regime. However, the subject of the use of weapons of mass destruction is far too serious,” he said, commenting on US and UK statements last week to the effect that chemical weapons may have been used in Syria.

“I think it is unacceptable to use it, to speculate on it for geopolitical purposes.”

The White House said in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday that intelligence gathered by the United States, with the help of opposition forces in Syria, shows “with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria.” Damascus has denied using chemical weapons, but said the opposition might have used them.

US President Barack Obama has described the use of chemical weapons in the conflict a “red line” for potential American intervention, but held back from saying what the US might do about the latest disclosures. The White House letter said the attack very likely originated with Assad’s forces.

The US has been in contact with neighboring states including Israel, Jordan and Turkey over what measures to take to stop chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria falling into the hands of terrorist groups, the New York Times reported last November. Israel is concerned in particular that Lebanon's Hezbollah movement could get hold of chemical warheads that it could fire from rockets into Israel.

If Assad’s forces has indeed use chemical weapons, Washington has a chance to press Russia and China, as UN Security Council members which have previously blocked sanctions against Syria, to take action, said Bruce Riedel a former veteran Middle East analyst at the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Lavrov said last Tuesday that any reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict must be carefully investigated to avoid a repetition of the “Iraqi scenario.”

In 2003, unconfirmed intelligence that former Iraqi dictaror Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction were used as justification for a US-led invasion. That information later proved to be almost totally unfounded, according to weapons inspectors who searched for the weapons after that war.

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