Hans Blix: attacking Syria’s chemical weapons ‘was not a serious idea’

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The potential Western-led attack on Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was not a “serious idea,” the former U.N. chief for weapons inspection in Iraq, Hans Blix, told Al Arabiya in an interview on Thursday.

“I don’t think you want to attack a military store of chemical weapons because it might spread and might have casualties and we don’t want that,” Blix, who was also the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the late 1970s, said.

“So I don’t think there was much of a serious idea, [or] intention of attacking the chemical [weapons stock],” he added.

However, Blix said that a “punitive strike” targeting “helicopter pads or airfields of the military,” was more likely than taking action against chemical weapons stockpiles or factories.

The former U.N. official said the “framework is that it aims to remove the chemical [weapons] but in a peaceful way, a safe way, and I think Israel should be pleased.”

Targeting chemical weapons factories, he cautioned, “would have remained [out of the question] because attacking factories that could produce chemical weapons could also release chemicals that should not be out in the open.”

U.N. inspectors credible

He added that it was “credible” that the U.N. inspectors “did not have the task of [labeling any party as] guilty,” and included that the Syrian opposition could also be to blame for the attack.

However, the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21 seemed too large of an attack for the opposition to execute, he stated.

“To me, the size of the attack and the organization of it pointed to a rather big party doing it.”

Meanwhile, the inspection of Syrian chemical weapons sites with a view to their destruction must start by Tuesday, says a draft decision to be discussed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Friday.

Besides weapons locations declared by Damascus as part of a deal to head off threatened military strikes, inspectors will also be able to visit “any other site identified by a State Party as having been involved in the Syrian chemical weapons program,” says the draft document seen by Agence France-Presse.

The five permanent members of the deeply divided U.N. Security Council agreed Thursday on a draft resolution to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and it will be put to a vote late Friday, officials said. The agreement represents a major breakthrough in addressing the two-and-a-half-year conflict, which has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the Associated Press.

The discussions were underway while talks in New York, on the text of a United Nations Security Council resolution to underpin the destruction plan, took place.

(With AFP and the Associated Press)

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