Britain joins chorus of concerns over Syria's chemical weapons
A Free Syria Army fighter runs to take cover in the city of Aleppo
December 8th, 2012
08:19 AM ET

Britain joins chorus of concerns over Syria's chemical weapons

By Elise Labott reporting from Manama, Bahrain

British Foreign Secretary William Hague cited evidence that the Syrian regime could use its stockpile of chemical weapons against rebels battling government forces.

"We are extremely concerned," Hague told reporters on the sidelines of a regional security conference Saturday.

Hague said that there was no simple "red line" which could trigger international military action, but that Britain and its allies had "contingency plans concerning chemical weapons" which he declined to disclose.

He noted several "dangerous scenarios" for the use of chemical weapons. One would be terror groups obtaining such munitions.

Recent U.S. intelligence suggests the Syrian government has started mixing chemical weapons compounds and loading them into bombs, though the bombs are not being moved to any delivery devices, CNN's Barbara Starr reported.

The U.S. military continues to revise its plans for a potential strike against Syria over chemical weapons.

President Barack Obama said this summer that any effort to move or use chemical weapons was a red line.

"A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized," Obama said. He prefaced that remark by saying the concern was the weapons falling into the hands of others.

With the new intelligence, administration warnings have focused not on moving, but on using the weapons.

As diplomats continue to seek a more peaceful resolution, international powers are weighing their military options.

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday warned the Obama administration it must act more urgently to prevent Syria's government from using chemical weapons.

Rep. Mike Rogers told attendees at the IISS Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain that the United States has a moral obligation to use military intervention if there is concrete proof chemical weapons are loaded and being readied for launch.

"I don't see any other way of making sure those weapons aren't used," he said. "As a coalition, we will have the moral obligation (to intervene) if we can say with even a moderate degree of certainty that these weapons have been prepared and are put in an arsenal for use."

On Friday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said any use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad's regime against the rebels would be an "outrageous crime."

Although Hague said the option of international military intervention had not been ruled out, Britain was working along with the United States and others to support a peaceful transition.

Hague acknowledged that rebel fighters were "receiving arms and making progress on the ground," but said Britain's policy was not to send arms to the Middle East.

"We will continue to give them strong practical assistance; communication equipment and humanitarian assistance," he said, adding that he hoped the international community would increase its support to the new Syrian opposition coalition during the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh next week.

soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Tonja Kue

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  5. fatblackfrancis

    I'd take anything we Brits say with a pinch of salt, after all it was our former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who told George W that Saddam had WMD's.

    December 9, 2012 at 10:42 am | Reply
    • brett challenger

      Absolutely, I hope this isn't the start of some more maneuvering to get us involved in yet another disastrous war.

      December 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  6. Rev Dr Felix Nwosu


    December 9, 2012 at 5:35 am | Reply
  7. Boombox

    So let's get this straight, the West is really concerned about Assad using chem. weapons? Worst case scenario Assad uses those weapons against Syrians or another mid east neighbour (who cares?). On the other hand if the religious fanatics (sorry, rebels) get their hands on it, they will most definitely do everything in their power to make sure that those weapons detonate in a Western country, like the US or UK. But maybe that's been the plan all along, now that Osama is dead, they need a new enemy to justify increased spending on the only industry they have left: weapons manufacturing.

    December 9, 2012 at 4:20 am | Reply
    • Old Man Clark

      Thank you, Boombox. You said it all.

      December 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  8. zlop

    Setting high standards for population nullification,
    NATO will use UN approved Humanitarian Bombs.

    December 9, 2012 at 3:22 am | Reply
  9. massoud

    Iraq part 2

    December 9, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
  10. Dutch

    Chemicals info from same people who knew all about WMD in Iraq?

    December 9, 2012 at 1:35 am | Reply
  11. Made in China

    Shamans Harvest – Dragonfly...Made in China...

    December 9, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply
    • Raju das

      When you pushed somebody against the wall what he will do? sit there and to be kicked like football.

      December 22, 2012 at 12:42 am | Reply
  12. Wolfman

    Ministry – Let's Go....UK and US cannot be allowed to take Syria for their KEYSTONE pipeline....uh oh BUSTED....grin....

    December 9, 2012 at 12:15 am | Reply
  13. Ripe Tomato

    Lol...sure it doesn't have anything to do with that OTHER information getting out...gosh crucify those you cannot forget... but when that little secret comes to about a wrench in the gears for the ol US and UK...puts a few ACES in Assad's hands as backs are sometimes a batch...smirk...

    December 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  14. Aladdin Sane

    Good time for Syria to kick Israel off it's territory. A few chemical strikes and it can wipe out both the terrorists and the illegal settlements in the Golan Heights. Strongest negotiating position is when you have nothing to lose.

    December 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  15. Lyndsie Graham

    It appears that the British have lost their moral compass if they ever had one in the first place! In other words, the only thing that seems to matter to them is the sheer will of Washington D.C. no matter how immoral that is! What moral pygmies these people seem have become and that makes me feel bad, being of English descent. How low they have become since they elected someone from a lowly class like Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and let such a horrific man as Augusto Pinochet go back to Chile in order to live like a king back in 2000! Enough said.

    December 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  16. robert

    Syria doesn't need to use them. When the end is near they can simply hand them over to terrorists. Then they have the last laugh. They will be dead and gone when the first ones go off in New York and Tel-Aviv.

    December 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  17. sjdsh

    Hague's words came amid reports from Russia, Syrian staunch ally in the UN security council, that a series of sudden 'leaks' from the Pentagon and US state department about 'Assad's ability and prep to deploy chemical weapons' and that this was now being used by Obama to underpin the threats of his military action against Syria.
    The claims have been met with incredulity by the Kremlin,responding that they are being used as a pretext to increase pressure on Assad and to push for the desired agenda of use of force.
    Pressed on what actual kind of evidence he had seen, Mr Hague replied: "Uh uh...we cannot be specific about that because clearly those are 'intelligence' sources that these things come from."
    ....Well now !! okie dokie Sir Haglet !

    December 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  18. idoubt

    Sanctions make nuclear accord 'unlikely'
    By Jim Lobe

    WASHINGTON – Iran is unlikely to agree to curb its nuclear program unless the US and its Western allies are prepared to ease tough economic sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic over the past decade, according to a major new report signed by more than three dozen former top US foreign-policy makers, military officers, and independent experts.

    While recent sanctions "may well help bring Iran to the negotiating table, it is not clear that these sanctions alone will result in agreements or changes in Iranian policies, much less changes in Iran's leadership," the report, "Weighing Benefits and Costs of International Sanctions Against Iran", concludes.

    "If Iran were to signal its willingness to modify its nuclear program and to cooperate in verifying those modifications, Iranian

    negotiations would expect the United States and its allies, in turn, to offer a plan for easing some of the sanctions," according to the 86-page report.

    But, "(a)bsent a calibrated, positive response from the West, Iran's leaders would have little incentive to move forward with negotiations," it stressed, noting that the administration of President Barack Obama should have a plan at the ready that would make clear how and in what sequence Washington might ease sanctions in exchange for Iranian cooperation.

    The new report, which is signed by 38 foreign policy luminaries, including three Republican former cabinet secretaries, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and half a dozen retired Army and Marine Corps generals with substantial Middle East experience, comes at a particularly sensitive moment.

    On the one hand, Congress, prodded by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is moving to enact as part of the 2013 defense bill tough new sanctions against foreign companies and individuals still doing business in several key Iranian economic sectors.

    December 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
    • John M.

      idoubt- this proves that the sanctions are working if Iran is willing to corperate for the first time. Hopefully dialogue will work to solve the matter of Iran's aim to acquire nuclear weapon (after the Iran's president publicly announce that Israel should be taken off the map of the world). If sanctions and/or dilogue don't work, only as a last resort military planes should be used to take out Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent a crazy religious freak from killling millions and destorying an entire state

      December 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  19. yemen camel

    If the West (and Russia, too) would stop using Third World nations and peoples as puppets on their political stages, these problems would be less likely to occur. Just think of how many Kurds were gassed by Saddam because we temporarily supported them when they fought against him in the first Gulf War, only to turn our backs on them when our objective to protect Israel and Saudi Arabia was achieved. Again, in this situation, our meddling is going to cause the deaths of thousands–if not tens of thousands–of Syrians just so we can disposed of Assad. And where will we be while the sarin gas is swirling in the air, creating large toxic clouds over the Syrian Desert? At home, watching American Idol, of course.

    December 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Well stated, yemen camel. Thank you.

      December 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  20. yemen camel

    It's the height of stupidity to threaten Assad with military intervention! If he uses chemical weapons, then we kill him: if he doesn't use them, the rebels kill him. Locked into a position like this, most people in a position of power would let the chemical warheads fly–thus dealing effectively with the immediate threat–and deal with foreign military and judicial/tribunal forces later. Anyone talking about military intervention is, in fact, exacerbating the problem because it only increases Assad's feelings of hopelessness and desperation–the two feelings that will cause him to use chemical weapons. Maybe, at this point, a Western leader would consider things like power-sharing or fleeing; but all you have to do is look at the pictures of the bodies of Saddam and Kaddafi to realize that rulers in that part of the world will push the button as they yell, Allah-u Akbar!

    December 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
    • Krakalakin

      assad is a coward, he and his trophy wife will flee to iran shortly, and continue to instigate bloodshed from there....he's not cornered at all, he won't die in a ditch like the drug-addled gudaffy....

      December 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  21. bobc4d

    al-Assad said he would not use them against HIS people, reading into that, would that be people loyal to HIM or the people of Syria in general? this would imply he would use WMD's against non-Syrians or if he knew he was backed into a corner with no way out, he could play an end game and launch his chemical loaded missles into Israel,Turkey and Saudi Arabia creating great panic and economic disaster. What would he have to loose?

    December 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  22. sjdsh

    Q: Mr.WilliamJHaglet
    (1) would you be able to share with us the 'evidence' you've said you've seen that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons?
    -NO??? didn't think so...the civis who must pay for wars w/cash and blood +govt salaries, are just -0 peons
    w/ No rights to know truth Ever.

    December 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  23. ug

    Who cares.

    December 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  24. alan

    missile strikes and bombardment from the air,only after chemical weapons are used.until then,just watch.....

    December 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  25. mike

    chemical weapons require dispersal methods, and preemptive strikes on facilities containing those weapons would be, in effect, to use chemical weapons on the syrians (or whichever way the wind was blowing at the time) , since the explosions would provide the delivery system. once the chemicals have been mixed, the weapons require disposal by technicians, not destruction by bombs.

    December 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  26. Raju das

    What do you expect from President Bashar al-Assad's regime? to be killed like Gaddafi ? Western countries have done great blunder by providing arms to the rebels. One hand western countries condemned the innocent killings of people in Syria and other hand they provide the weapons to rebels. Where is the logic? I think the hands of the western countries' leaders are soiled with blood of innocent Syrians who are killed in conflict.

    December 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • I Am God

      Wrong. You are obviously clueless and drinking in that government propaganda. Turkey and Saudi Arabia as well as several other countries have been supplying weapons to the rebels in Syria. Guess what? They are all in the Middle East you nutjob.

      December 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
      • Raju das

        Americans and British are supplying arms via Saudi Arabia and Turkey . Your Leaders have zero idea of world politics.
        Look at the mess in Iraq . Who is responsible for this?

        December 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  27. LofA

    Now if we can only get Dubya to authenticate these WMD charges, we'll be off to the races.

    December 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  28. billhook

    the bad guy has WMD, this sounds too familiar to me 🙂

    December 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
    • catalyzer

      Damned if we do, damned if we don't ... only choice is to pre-empt and hope you are right to do so, downside is too terrible to consider allowing.

      December 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  29. KillAmike

    Smells like kən(t) in here!Must be all the Anti-Islam bigots:)

    December 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  30. Bob

    Video just posted to YouTube by "Syrian Free Press" shows possible use of chemical weapons against rebels in Aleppo, Syria. This was just posted in the last hour.

    December 8, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  31. I Am God

    What are you going to do cvntservative?

    December 8, 2012 at 11:26 am | Reply
    • I Am God

      This is for the stupid comment dscon made

      December 8, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
  32. dscon

    And what are the libsissies' gonna do.....................

    December 8, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
  33. StanCaif

    Okay, both the British and the USA claim they are not furnishing weapons to the Syrian rebels. The rebels seem to be getting arms from somewhere! We (the US) don't even know who these rebels really are. Talk about some coalition, some "representative" group is all just BS. For all we know, these rebels may well be our enemies! So they successfuly defeat Asaad's regime. Then what? Just like Egypt? How is Libya doing today after overthrowing their dictator? How is Afghanistan doing today under their "democratically elected" new dictator?
    These people are NOT capable of ruling themselves "democratically". All they know and all they understand is the strong rule by a dictator! They need dictators to function, why do we keep destroying political/economic systems that worked well far longer than the USA has been in existance?

    December 8, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • I Am God

      Oh please get a clue. Doesn't take a week for a democracy to work nut, so go ahead and take a chill pill.

      December 8, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
      • StanCaif

        Our emposed "democracys" haven't faired well! We lost in Viet Nam, our democratic ideas didn't work. Today, Viet Nam is a vibrant and functioning country, no thanks to "democracy"! We even trade with Viet Nam now! Is China a democracy? By far our biggest trading partner!
        We, in the USA, need to understand that our system is not what every country needs! Look what happened when the Soviet Union fell. Is Russia a free and democratic society today? Far from it! What did we achieve by holding elections in Afghanistan? Are the Afgans now free and prosperous? The Gaza Strip is ruled by a government WE insisted on being elected. Are these people now free and prosperous? We stll refuse to recognize their "elected" government!
        As much as we hate the British, they did it the right way. Only by colonizing a country for several generations can you teach them the principles of self governing and the rule of law. What would India be today if the English just held elections and turned the country over? What about Hong Kong? Both learned valuable lessons under British rule and eventually became sucessful. It takes decades, not just a few years of bloodshed!

        December 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
      • I Am God

        Hey StanCalif out of all that you missed one thing. The United States is an exception throughout the world. We didn't gain our freedom, our liberties, our democracy, our republic over night. We have worked on it for decades. You are expecting some of these countries to be a full-blown democratic republic like us in just a matter of years. It doesn't work like that. Don't think a country will not be a democracy after a few months and don't say it isn't worth it when we worked for decades for our rights.

        December 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • aktap

        This is just not our job America, get a clue people! The home town boys can handle this, as they should. I'm sorry that America can't save every person who's out there in need! the world is a ruff place, and the USA is not the all powerful blessed by God to rule, super nice world leader you want! life's just not that simple, even in the places We've done the best in. like rebuilding Europe and Asia! Hell in south Korea, a country we raised from ashes to great wealth! The people sing songs of murdering American's! Now get it right, Americans not America! they blame not the rich and powerful! But you Joe six pack, the same people who got your grandfathers job, hate you. Wile we pay to defend the lot of them, from themselves LOL. When well the true Atlas Shrug, I think its coming? Can you feel it, I do.

        December 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  34. jimmy

    "Recent U.S. intelligence suggests ..." After the whole WMD fiasco in Iraq, I doubt anyone really believes US "intelligence" sources anymore

    December 8, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • StanCaif

      The whole WMD fisco in Iraq was "invented" by George W and his buddy Dick Cheney! Their primary goal was to get control of Iraq's oil, nothing more. The war was supposed to be financed by cheap oil from Iraq when "liberated" from the dictator, Saddam. After "liberating" Iraq, we insisted on holding an election! How stupid. The newly elected government is still dysfunctonal and is making friends with Iran, NOT us! Their oil production is going to China, not to us.
      What on earth did "Mission accomplished" achieve??? Short answer: NOTHING!

      December 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Reply
      • Berel Dov Lerner

        What a strange theory. Do you think that Saddam was unwilling to sell oil to the USA? Where did you come up with that one?

        December 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
      • StanCaif

        To Berel Dov Lerner,
        Iraq is no friend and no ally to the US today. We spent years of fighting for this country, we spent billions to "free them" from dictatorship. We even held "elections" for the people to decide their fate! All was for nothing. Today Iraq is positioning it's self with Iran. Sure, Saddam would have sold us his oil. This was not good enough for us! George and Dick had other ideas in mind. Just like Vietnam, it just didn't work.

        December 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
      • Jon Cottrell

        are you retarded? how can 2 people just make that up. alot of people thought he had them. you are a moran. it is unbelievable how someone would think that bush just made it up. you sound like one of those people who think he made up 9-11 as well. for all of this to happen because Bush made it happen? if so, then he must really be the Devil. what a joke.

        December 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
      • Berel Dov Lerner

        Again, how did you come up with the idea that Iraq was unwilling to sell oil to the USA? Business is business; oil exporting countries sell to whoever is willing to pay. You disagree? Bring a news source about Saddam not selling oil to the USA.

        December 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  35. alligator face

    lol....the brits have about as much influence as the UN.....too many of them wear dresses.

    December 8, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • karbvi

      USA have no balls, let the Israelis deal the muslim slime.

      December 8, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
      • David

        Thanks a lot, like we don't have enough sh.. To deal with!

        December 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  36. jimmy

    Ooooh a warning...I seem to recall all the 'western' nations warning North Korea against developing a nuke. All talk, no action.

    December 8, 2012 at 11:11 am | Reply
  37. John Edwards

    LOL, Britain? You mean Little Islam...

    December 8, 2012 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • AndyBB

      Did you really laugh out loud? Really? The joke doesn't even scan, as there isn't a country called Islam.

      December 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  38. Rich

    "Recent U.S. intelligence suggests the Syrian government has started mixing chemical weapons compounds and loading them into bombs, though the bombs are not being moved to any delivery devices"

    Has U.S. intelligence considered bombing the roads that lead to the delivery devices?

    December 8, 2012 at 11:07 am | Reply
  39. Hot dog

    UN should wait until more people die in SyrIa, waiit until 2.5 million die.

    December 8, 2012 at 10:41 am | Reply
  40. james

    I fear this guy is hunting for infamy...Someone in his inner circle must kill him now.

    December 8, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
  41. Marine5484

    As I already said many times before, if I were the Prime Minister of Great Britain, I would first pull that country out of NATO and then try to find a peaceful solution between the Assad regime and the so-called "rebels" in order to avoid further bloodshed in Syria. Being of English descent, I find it disheartening to see that country become no more than a subservient state for the right-wing thugs in Washington and send men off to do their fighting for them! Have the British truly lost their national pride? It appears that way!

    December 8, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Jay

      Yeah, I'm pretty sure that happened in WW2 when Canada and then the US came and saved all your asses.

      December 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Reply
      • AndyBB

        US eventually helped. Canada just did what they were told.

        December 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  42. Striker

    Go ahead Syria, use those chemical weopons, I need to make some money so I can deploy back overseas.

    December 8, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
    • Quigley

      Well said, Striker. That's what any right-wing thug in Washington would say when they're not thinking it!

      December 8, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • I Am God

      And who says Syria won't return the favor of launching chemical weapons at you when you go to aid the rebels? I support the moderate rebels and all, but don't be daff about marching in their all gung-ho like.

      December 8, 2012 at 10:13 am | Reply
  43. maxmaxwell

    "could use" ok get your radio DJ's to call over and ask assad whats up? they can pretend to be morsi, then maybe assad will commit suicide as well, ohhh those brits, gotta love a sense of humor......................not

    December 8, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply

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