Does this even qualify as news at this point? Via Reuters:
International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, diplomatic sources said on Friday. Samples taken by experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in December and January tested positive for chemical precursors needed to make the toxic agents, the sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential. “This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source said. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”
You’ll recall that last fall, following the “success” of Smart Power® diplomacy in Syria, it became clear that the Iran-backed regime had played the Obama administration for fools. Short history recap: After drawing, then disclaiming, then re-engaging a “red line” established for Bashar Al-Assad, President Obama began readying military strikes against the Syrian government. When polls strongly indicated that this policy would attract meager public support, and would quite possibly fail a Congressional vote, the White House began casting about for an escape hatch, until Secretary of State John Kerry blundered into one: An American attack might be avoided, he extemporized, if Syria agreed to identify and relinquish all of its chemical and biological weapons. Assad and his effective allies in Moscow leaped at the sham solution, touting Kerry’s accidental suggestion as a breakthrough. The Secretary of State’s error became official US policy shortly thereafter. When Syria ostensibly “complied” with the plan (setting aside multiple missed deadlines), the Left cheered Obama’s master stroke that supposedly neutralized a threat while avoiding war. Except it did nothing of the sort:
Syria has four chemical weapons facilities that it did not previously disclose to the United Nations, a Western diplomat told CNN on Tuesday. The diplomat said Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. special envoy overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpiles, briefed the U.N. Security Council. Three of the sites are research and development facilities and one is a production facility, according to the source.
This flagrant violation elicited…a tweet from Samantha Power, who impotently vowed to “keep pressure” on Assad, or something. The new Reuters report cited above demonstrates that the regime never had any intention of abiding by their obligations under the agreement, and that they’ve evidently determined they have little to fear in the way of US reprisals. Repeatedly crossing the American president’s “red line,” then brazenly blowing off a cobbled-together reprieve, has resulted in no consequences for the violators. Our enemies and allies alike are undoubtedly taking note, just as they’re likely noticing the administration’s incoherence vis-a-vis US-Syria policy in general. Over the course of Obama’s presidency, Assad has been (a) hailed as a reformer by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, (b) condemned as a Hitleresque butcher who “must go,” and (c) described as a potential negotiating partner by the same person who compared him to Hitler. That official has been forced to acknowledge that Obama’s Syria policy has collapsed into abject failure. Meanwhile, as the Syrian regime makes a mockery of one Obama deal, Team Smart Power continues to chase after another:
Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi said on Tuesday he was “very hopeful” that an accord on Tehran’s nuclear programme could be reached with world powers ahead of the June 30 deadline. “Different elements inside and outside of the negotiation chamber can prevent a deal but despite all of this, we will continue the negotiations and we are very hopeful that we can reach a deal before the deadline,” he said at the start of a new round of talks in Vienna. Negotiators in the Austrian capital were trying to reach a “single agreed text” and resolve any outstanding issues, he added. A US delegation led by Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman is due to join the Vienna talks on Wednesday. Political leaders of the remaining world powers involved in the negotiations will follow on Friday. However, negotiations have been rendered more difficult after the US Senate passed legislation on May 8 giving Congress the right to review and perhaps even reject any nuclear deal between world powers and Iran. Iranian officials said the vote was part of a “psychological war” against Tehran’s negotiators.
I’d suggest that perhaps we ought to be concerned about that last paranoid statement from the Iranians, but the White House would almost certainly assure us that such language is aimed purely at a domestic political audience. For what it’s worth, I made the case at Townhall yesterday for why last week’s overwhelming and bipartisan passage of Sen. Corker’s “clean” Iran deal review legislation was likely the least-bad realistic political outcome for critics of the accord — such as it exists. Oh, and by the way, Iran is still actively cheating. As these negotiations play out. Given the West’s treatment of their satellite regime in Damascus, why wouldn’t they cheat?