Sunday, April 26, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The puzzle posed by Syria’s poison gas

By
From page A10 | September 06, 2013 |

The issue: Best way to get rid of Assad’s weapons? Dismantle them

Chemical weapons are easy to make. The technology for mass production goes back to World War I. However, they are difficult to store because they can deteriorate over time, and they are even more difficult to get rid of.

FOR DECADES, the U.S. military has wrestled, not always wisely, with the question of how to destroy such weapons. The simplest and most effective method — incinerators built closest to the site where the weapons are stored — runs into intractable local and political problems.

Nobody wants nerve gas destroyed in their back yard. The military had planned to destroy short-range nerve-gas rockets at an incinerator built for that purpose at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. But in a decision that went all the way to the White House, the rockets were encased in concrete, secretly shipped by rail across the country and loaded aboard two surplus freighters, which were scuttled in 6,000 feet of water miles out in the Atlantic in the 1970s.

There they presumably still sit, according to an investigation decades later by the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, along with 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents and 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets tossed overboard by the military.

This primitive form of disposal has since been outlawed in the United States. It is doubtful that the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad is similarly enlightened ecologically.

THE UNITED STATES, even acting alone, could bomb Assad’s stocks of chemical weapons, but that almost inevitably would set off a catastrophic release of lethal gases with huge loss of civilian life.

According to USA Today, since we first convinced ourselves that Saddam Hussein had massive stocks of such weapons, the U.S. military has been trying with little success to develop a device that would both destroy the weapons, be they bombs or rockets, and neutralize their contents.

The most effective way of eliminating Assad’s stocks is to have experts dismantle them. Ideally, that would be part of a negotiated settlement that saw the departure of Assad and the elimination of his chemical weapons.

Another choice is a series of raids by special-ops troops, a fading alternative now that Britain has opted out. Meanwhile, the Syrian people remain at the mercy of a leader who has shown no compunction against killing them in an especially painful and grotesque way. It is only a matter of time before the rebels are capable of doing likewise.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Davis team wins world robotics championship

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
     
    Nepal quake death toll exceeds 1,800

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    At the Pond: Plenty of pleasures in our bioregion

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Pioneering organic chef presents her memoir Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Suspect in UCD assault arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

    Dog park marks anniversary with cleanup

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Rail-safety bill passes Senate committee

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Free Family Bike Clinic set Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Watch them in action

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5

    Stocks rise on tech earnings; Nasdaq adds to record

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

     
    Dodd speaks as part of public policy series

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    We did it (together)!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

     
    $2.72 million judgment ordered against Dollar Tree Stores

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Fly Fishers to hear about advanced streamer tactics on Tuesday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Bicycle activist will speak Monday at Hall of Fame

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    UCD hosts bike auction Saturday, May 2

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Those texts still linger

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

     
    New ways of giving locally and beyond

    By Marion Franck | From Page: B6

     
    Study questions accuracy of tumor gene mapping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Water, water everywhere?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Mayor’s Corner: A spirit of renewal permeates Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    More work to do for a safe Picnic Day

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Poker proceeds help youths

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Invest in water of the future

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Anaheim, where The Force is with you

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A13 | Gallery

    .

    Sports

    Davis gets two baseball wins in two days

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

     
    Grizzlies dominate young Blue Devils on Senior Night

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Energy, fan-friendly happenings highlight UCD spring football game

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil golfers capture CAL Invitational title

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggies reach water polo semifinals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Blue Devil swimmers are up to the challenge

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Babich brings the heat as DHS girls stick it to Oak Ridge

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

     
    DHS softball struggles continue against Sheldon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    History comes alive in ‘The Sacramento Picture’

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Big Italian food, sports bar to fill Little Prague

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A7

    Davis Roots hires new general manager

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Comcast announces speed upgrade

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, April 26, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8