A former ambassador who served during Barack Obama’s presidency admitted Sunday that the administration “always knew” Syria still had a stockpile of chemical weapons, despite public assurances to the contrary.
Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and senior official on Obama’s National Security Council, took to Twitter to defend the previous administration’s efforts to dismantle the Syrian chemical weapon program.
“I strongly disagree with those who say Assad’s [chemical weapons] attack on Idlib [Province] proves that the 2013 [chemical weapons] deal struck by Russia & the US was worthless,” he wrote.
Shapiro argued that the deal, brokered by the U.S. and Russia to eliminate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile, successfully managed to remove and destroy all 1,300 tons of the regime’s declared arsenal. He then added that the Obama administration was aware the Syrian government likely hid away part of its chemical weapons program.
“We always knew Syria likely squirreled away some residual undeclared stocks and/or production capability, now proven by Idlib strike,” he admitted.
11. By mid-2014, all 1,300 tons had been removed, supervised by the OPCW, and carefully destroyed on ships at sea.
Shapiro’s comments came the same day another former Obama administration official told the New York Times the same thing.
“We always knew we had not gotten everything, that the Syrians had not been fully forthcoming in their declaration,” former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken told the paper.
Both claims appear to contradict previous statements made by the Obama administration. In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. had removed Assad’s entire stockpile.
“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
As late as January, Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, likewise told NPR that “we were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.” The Washington Post fact-checker gave that statement Four Pinocchios in light of the recent chemical attack, meaning the Post deemed the comments completely false.
Shapiro noted in his Twitter remarks that he supports President Trump’s decision to order military strikes against a Syrian government airbase following Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack carried out by the Assad regime on civilians in northern Syria.
1. There’s some serious revisionist history afoot regarding the 2013 CW deal. I offer this perspective from serving in Israel at the time.