Turkish premier rebukes Security Council over Syria
BY FRANK JORDANS Associated Press
Sunday, October 14, 2012
10/14/12 at 5:57 AM
Turkey's prime minister sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council on Saturday for its failure to agree on decisive steps to end Syria's civil war, as NATO ally Germany backed the Turkish interception of a Damascus-bound passenger jet earlier in the week.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an international conference in Istanbul that the world was witnessing a humanitarian tragedy in Syria.
"If we wait for one or two of the permanent members ... then the future of Syria will be in danger," Erdogan said.
Russia and China, two of the five permanent Security Council members, have vetoed resolutions that sought to put concerted pressure on Damascus to end the conflict and agree to a political transition.
Erdogan called for a reform of the Security Council, which he called an "unequal, unfair system" that didn't represent the will of most countries.
He spoke as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Arab and European leaders amid growing tensions between Turkey and neighboring Syria. Davutoglu told reporters after the meetings that Turkey was prepared to use force again if it was attacked, just as it did last week when a shell fired across the border from Syria killed five Turkish villagers.
One week after the shelling, Turkey intercepted a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus and seized what it said was military equipment on board.
Syria denounced the move as air piracy. The state-run Syrian news agency SANA reported late Saturday that Syria decided to ban Turkish Airlines flights from Syrian airspace.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle backed Turkey on Saturday, but he cautioned the situation between Turkey and Syria could quickly escalate out of control.
"The danger of a 'wildfire' is very big," said Westerwelle. "If that happens, then this can become a devastating conflict for the whole region."
Original Print Headline: Turkey chides UN council over Syria
Few good options available to secure Syria's chemical arsenal
The U.S. and regional allies are closely monitoring Syria's chemical weapons - caught in the midst of a raging civil war - but options for securing the toxic agents stuffed into shells, bombs and missiles are fraught with risk.
President Bashar Assad's embattled regime is believed to have one of the largest chemical weapons stockpiles in the world. Fears have risen that a cornered Assad might use them, or that they could fall into the hands of extremists.
For now, the main storage and production sites are considered secure. However, some suggest the civil war poses one of the gravest risks of losing control over non-conventional weapons since the breakup of the Soviet Union two decades ago.
"We need to be up front that this is not something very easy to do," Steven Bucci, a former senior Defense Department official, said of attempts to keep the weapons locked up.
Syria is believed to have hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of chemical agents, said Leonard Spector, deputy director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. This includes mustard gas, a blistering agent, and the more lethal nerve agents sarin and VX, he said.
"With chemical weapons, it starts to get so beyond the pale," Bucci said of the potential threat. "It scares the heck out of everybody, rightfully."