U.S. Intelligence Suspects Assad Still Hiding Chemical Weapons
A new U.S. intelligence report claims Assad may not have fully disclosed the location of all of his chemical weapons. The report claims there may be another secret cache of chemical weapons.
The intelligence is not definitive but “there are various threads of information that would shake our confidence,” one U.S. official said. “They have done things recently that suggest Syria is not ready to get rid of all their chemical weapons.”
CNN has spoken to several U.S. officials with access to the latest intelligence on Syria, who confirmed the information. All declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the data. U.S. intelligence agencies, the Defense Department, the State Department and White House are all reviewing the information. One official cautioned there is not yet a definitive U.S. conclusion about Syrian intentions based on this intelligence, but there is an effort to gather corroborating information and better understand what the regime may be up to.
There is agreement among U.S. officials that Syria’s official declarations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have been made largely in good faith after the threat of military action by the United States for Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. The United States believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad understands not to do that again.
National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan issued a statement Tuesday evening saying: “We continue to review and assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria’s declaration to the OPCW. However, in accordance with OPCW regulations, Syria’s declaration is confidential, and we will not publicly discuss its details or our assessment of it. For further details, we would refer you to the OPCW.”
In September a former Syrian weapons chief said Assad has been secretly sending a portion of his chemical weapons to allies in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.