WH evaluating Syria's chemical weapons destruction plans

The National Security Council said it’s evaluating “the completeness and accuracy” of Syria’s declaration to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.

The statement comes afater a new report claiming Syria might hide some of its weapons.

“We continue to review and assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria’s declaration to the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]. However, in accordance with OPCW regulations, Syria’s declaration is confidential, and we will not publicly discuss its details or our assessment of it,” said NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in an e-mail to The Hill Tuesday.

“For further details, we would refer you to the OPCW,” she said.

The U.S. is looking at new classified intelligence showing Syria’s government may not fully declare its chemical weapons stockpile, according to a report Tuesday on CNN. 

“There are various threads of information that would shake our confidence,” an unidentified U.S. official told CNN. “They have done things recently that suggest Syria is not ready to get rid of all their chemical weapons.”

Several other U.S. officials confirmed the story, according to CNN. None wanted to be identified because they’re dealing with sensitive information.

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Officials at the White House, Defense Department, State Department and the U.S. intelligence agencies are all reviewing the data, the report said.

If the report is, in fact, true, that would mean Syria is still storing a secret supply of chemical weapons. This comes after a team of investigators from the chemical weapons watchdog, OPCW, and the United Nations inspected sites Syria listed as containing production equipment for the weapons.

One official said, according to the report, that the U.S. doesn’t have a definitive conclusion about Syria’s intentions.

Last week, the Syrian government met the first phase of deadlines set by the OPCW by destroying all of its production equipment used to make chemical weapons. Syria has said, however, it does want to maintain some of its chemical facilities. 

Twenty-one of 23 sites were inspected last month, the OPCW said. Investigators could not access the remaining two because it was too dangerous, and any materials left there were transferred to inspected areas. 

The CNN report notes much of America’s intelligence concerning Syria is gathered from overhead satellite imagery.

In August, the Obama administration threatened to launch a military strike on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that month, which officials said left more than 1,400 dead in the Damascus suburbs.

Syria subsequently agreed to join the chemical weapons convention after Russia offered a diplomatic solution to avert a U.S. military strike.

The OPCW’s executive council has until Nov. 15 to approve a plan Syria submitted that details the process to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. 

— Justin Sink contributed