The Syrian foreign ministry claims that the military would never use its stock of chemical weapons "inside Syria," but let the world know that it could definitely bring them out if a foreign country tries to interfere in its civil war.
According to the BCC, in a broadcast on state television today a spokesman for the foreign ministry said that "Any chemical or biological weapons will never be used, I repeat, will never be used in the Syrian crisis, no matter what the internal developments in this crisis are," but also added, "All varieties of these weapons are stored and secured by the Syrian armed forces and under its direct supervision, and will not be used unless Syria is subjected to external aggression." (Emphasis ours.)
While meant to sound like the words of a responsible state actor, the message is essentially a threat to any Western powers that might be considering a military intervention: "We have bad things and aren't afraid to use them." From there it's not a great leap to imagine that "inside Syria" pledge becoming less of a rule than a suggestion, especially when the regime consistently blames the entire internal uprising on "foreign terrorists." A desperate dictator is capable of anything.
The country is not a signatory to the international Chemical Weapons Convention that bars their production and has never formally acknowledged that they even have them, but the U.S. has expressed serious concerns that the chemical weapons could be used by Bashar al-Assad or fall into the wrong hands should his regime crumble. There's no doubt now that they exist and therefore they will always be an available option.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed that feeling on Fox News on Sunday, but also said that he believes the regime will not last until November 13, which would be the 42nd anniversary of the Assad family taking control of the country.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.