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Rebels, not the Syrian army, fired last week’s chemical weapon: experts
Published 25 March 2013
Western intelligence services, analyzing the few facts known about the use of a chemical weapon near Aleppo in north Syria last week, have concluded that it was one of the rebel militias, rather than Assad government forces, which fired a “homemade” chlorine-based chemical artillery round. If the conclusion of the intelligence services is correct, it raises disturbing questions about both the capabilities of at least some rebel militias – and about their readiness to use nonconventional weapons.
PHOTO - Syrian medical personel treat chemical weapons victims // Source: giaoduc.net.vn
Western intelligence services, analyzing the few facts known about the use of a chemical weapon near Aleppo in north Syria last week, have concluded that it was one of the rebel militias, rather than Assad government forces, which fired the chemical artillery round. Twenty-six people were killed by the chemical explosions, and nearly a hundred people were injured and require hospitalization. There are four facts which have led chemical weapons experts to this conclusion: • • Most, if not all, of those killed were Syrian soldiers The target attacked was a Syrian army’s check point
The Syrian government, not the rebels, was first to call for an international inquiry into the incident Early medical reports indicate that at least some of those killed and injured were the victims of chlorine gas. This chemical was used in the First World War (among the victims of a chlorine gas attack was Adolf Hitler, then a sergeant in the German army. He lost his sight for a few weeks but then recovered). Today’s chemical munitions use more advanced gasses, such as mustard, VX, and other nerve gasses. There were no victims who exhibited the symptoms of having been attacked by these more current chemical weapons.
Building a chlorine chemical weapon requires no more than a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry, and access to chlorine and salt solution, both commercially available. The more demanding task is placing the chemicals in a shell and sealing it so it does not leak and injure those handling the munitions. If the conclusion of the intelligence services is correct, it raises disturbing questions about both the capabilities of at least some rebel militias – and about their readiness to use non-conventional weapons. The issue is even more pressing in light of the regime’s steady loss of control over Syria, and the likelihood, which is growing by the day, that the rebels might come into possession of at least some of Syria’s more sophisticated chemical weapons. Syria has the world’s largest arsenal of chemical weapons, and the world’s largest active chemical weapons production infrastructure. Source: http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20130325-rebelsnot-the-syrian-army-fired-last-week-s-chemical-weapon-experts ++++++ Pine Bluff Chemical Activity (PBCA) Pine Bluff, Arkansas Pine Bluff Arsenal located in Southeast Arkansas, is 35 miles Southeast of Little Rock and 8 miles Northwest of the City of Pine Bluff. PBA is bordered on the East by the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and
on the West by the Union Pacific Railroad and U.S. Highway 65, making it directly accessible by rail, road, or waterway. The City of Pine Bluff boasts on of the busiest ports on the Arkansas River and serves as a transportation hub for the regional railroads. PBA is located 35 miles south of the Little Rock National Airport, and 40 miles from Little Rock Air Force Base. PBA is 8 1/2 miles long by 2 3/4 miles wide and covers 14,944 acres. It includes 952 buildings which provide 3.3 million square feet of floor space, including storage bunkers. It also has 42 miles of railroad track and 2 million square yards of roads and paved surfaces. Overall employment as of the end of FY96 included 886 Arsenal civilian employees, 128 civilians employed by tenant activities, and a total of 59 military personnel. Payroll for FY96 was $44,334,685. The facility was established in November 1941 as the Chemical Warfare Arsenal; it was renamed Pine Bluff Arsenal 4 months later. Its original mission was as a manufacturing center for magnesium and thermite munitions. The arsenal produced its first incendiary grenade on 31 July 1942. During World War II and the years following, the arsenal' s manufacturing capabilities continued to expand to manufacture, load and store war gases; and to fill smoke and white phosphorus munitions. The expansion included facilities to manufacture and store various types of chemical-filled weapons. Arsenal-produced conventional munitions were used in the Korean and Vietnam wars. During the war years, the arsenal produced millions of grenades, bombs, and shells as well as millions of pounds of mustard and Lewisite. While the arsenal manufactured these agents during World War II and remains a storage site for a portion of the US chemical defense stockpile, it has never produced a lethal nerve agent. A biological weapons mission was added in 1953 and continued until 1969. Pine Bluff was the site of the Production Development Laboratories, responsible for manufacturing and loading biological munitions. President Nixon banned biological weapons in 1969 and manufacturing ceased. The bioweapons production facility at Pine Bluff was abandoned and partly dismantled in 1969. In 1972, this part of the complex was renamed the National Center for Toxicological Research, removed from the jurisdiction of the Arsenal and placed under the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Currently, it manufactures chemical, smoke, riot control, incendiary, and pyrotechnic mixes and munitions. Limited production facilities also are
used to manufacture chemical defense items such as clothing and protective masks. Pine Bluff is the only active site at which white phosphorous-filled weapons are loaded. The Pine Bluff Chemical Activity maintains its stockpile on 431 acres of land is located in the northwestern portion of Pine Bluff Arsenal. Selected as the sole site for the Binary Production Facility in 1978, the program was active until 1990. The Pine Bluff Chemical Activity's specific mission is to store its stockpile of 3,850 tons of chemical weapons until they are disposed of through the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program. The Pine Bluff Chemical Disposal Facility will use incineration technology to safely dispose of 12.3 percent of the original US stockpile of chemical weapons. In fact, the U.S. Army is awaiting approval from the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology to build a chemical weapons disposal facility. The Pine Bluff Chemical Activity has safely stored blister agent, or mustard nerve agents since the 1950s and 1960s when the weapons were brought to the Arsenal. The stockpile consists of rockets containing the liquid nerve agents GB and VX and one-ton bulk storage containers with mustard. The safe storage of the entire stockpile is overseen by the U.S. Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command, who is charged with monitoring the storage. Disposal Schedule: Construction: 1999 Testing: 2001 Operations: 2003 Closure: 2007 AGENT HT-Blister HD-Blister GB-Nerve GB-Nerve VX-Nerve VX-Nerve VX-Nerve ITEM QUANTITY POUNDS Ton Containers 3,591 6,249,100 Ton Containers 107 188,400 M55 Rockets 90,231 965,480 M56 Rocket Warheads 178 1,900 M55 Rockets 19,582 195,820 M56 Rocket Warheads 26 260 Mines 9,378 98,460
Pine Bluff Arsenal possesses diverse capabilities in the field of chemical/ biological protection. These capabilities include: Frabrication, fill and testing of chemical/biological filters in various sizes and configurations Chemical impregnation, repair, renovation, and testing of chemical protective clothing Rebuild and calibration of Defensive Chemical Test Equipment Worldwide certification to Department of Defense and contractors engaged in the testing or manufacturing of individual protective equipment Protective mask rebuild/repair The Arsenal's involvement in the area of protective masks began in the late 1970s when Pine Bluff Arsenal was given the mission to produce M24/M25 A1 Masks. Today, Pine Bluff Arsenal is the United States Army's sole facility for repair and rebuild of the M17 series, M9A1, M24, M25A1, and M40 masks, and the M20 breathing apparatus. As the only manufacturer of white phosphorus munitions in the western hemisphere, Pine Bluff Arsenal is modernizing the WP plant originally constructed in the 1940s. In late September 2005, officials signed a $20 million contract for the modernization project with Shaw Environmental, Inc., headquartered in Stoughton, Mass. This is the contract largest project undertaken on the industrial side. The modernization effort will improve the safety, environmental performance, flexibility of the operations, and efficiency of the filling of the munitions. The entire project - from design to contract - has been a joint effort with PBA, the Chemical Materiel Command and PEO Ammunition Office. One of the largest investments in PBA's industrial capacity since the early 1980s, this modernization will be key component of posturing the Arsenal for future workload. It will add state-of-the-art safety features and greatly improve production efficiency. PBA is the only facility that uses the raw materials, which are extracted from phosphorus rocks, and is a by-product. The form used by the military
is highly energetic (active) and ignites once it is exposed to oxygen. This makes it absolutely essential to keep it in an environment that is away from oxygen - either inside an inert atmosphere or under a layer of water. In a heated format, it is extremely dangerous and can create damaging burns. The design phase of the project, which took about two and a half years, was a collaborative effort between PBA, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Jacobs Engineering Group. The WP project is a very complex system because not only it replaces the manufacturing lines, but also replaces the complete system - including supporting elements such as the scrubber and wastewater systems. This is going to introduce the latest environmental equipment that is available to try to minimize the waste generated. It is going to be more efficient. The line will be downsized as a result of the modernization, going from four to one production line. The requirement for WP has been reduced. That is the reason for downsizing. However, the Arsenal is optimizing the process at the same time and lean manufacturing concepts will be introduced. The unique part of the process, is that WP production will continue through the construction phase. The WP facility is one of the largest in production at the Arsenal. The plan is to divide the building in half and have the existing equipment be operational during installation of the new systems. Three new buildings are also going to be added to the new facility - a scrubber and wastewater system, and storage facility. Fabrication and installation was expected to take approximately 15 months. Testing of the new line was tentatively scheduled for early 2007 and the new systems was set to be online by second quarter of 2007. Additional parts of the overall project - part of the capital investment portion - were awarded to Tri-State Industrial Contractors, Inc. of Texarkana, Ark., for infrastructure work; High Voltage Maintenance, Inc., of Quitman, Ark., for electrical work; and Quality Fence Company of Pine Bluff for fence work. Source: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/facility/pine_bluff.htm See also: Pine Bluff Arsenal Home: http://www.pba.army.mil VIDEO - Aljazeera Inside Story: Did America use chemical weapons on civillians in Iraq - http://youtu.be/oBveSybCblw