The Telegraph reports, in an article on the fight for the Al-Safirah chemical facility:
The Syrian regime’s chemical warchest is indeed vast – the biggest in the Middle East, and the fourth largest in the world. Started in the 1970s ranks with help from Syria’s Cold War sponsor, Russia, today its programme includes facilities for making mustard gas, sarin and another nerve agent, VX, which stays lethal for much longer after dispersal.
Of course, this is not the first revelation that Assad’s chemical inventory contained VX. Former Syrian Army Chemical Officer MajGen Adnan Sillou discussed the matter in a December 2012 interview:
He listed mustard gas along with the sarin, VX and tabun nerve agents as the main elements in Syria’s chemical arsenal, whose existence Syria doesn’t even acknowledge.
Despite the anguished cries of the Bush-haters, the question of VX in Syria is a vexing one for the “no chemical weapons in Iraq” crowd. Only four countries have ever been known to produce VX; Great Britain, where it was discovered/invented, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Iraq.
So, how did VX end up in Basher Al-Assad’s arsenal? One of two ways, it would seem, or some combination thereof. It was either provided by what the Telegraph calls Syria’s “Cold War sponsor” (the Soviet Union, not Russia), or it came from Syria’s southeastern neighbor, Saddam’s Iraq. Or both.
Methinks that the VX stockpiles have MAKSIM‘s fingerprints all over them. The presence of a KGB General in Iraq in the months leading up to the US invasion cannot plausibly be explained by casting him as an “adviser”. Primakov had intimate knowledge of Iraq’s chemical capabilties, and would have been in an ideal position to help remove Saddam’s remaining stockpile, along with evidence of Soviet/Russian culpability.
Another alternative is the possibility that the Soviet Union (or Russia post-1991) provided Syria with VX directly. Were that the case, the likelihood that the Soviets/Russians did the same with Iraq (or provided technical assistance to manufacture) increases dramatically.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Putin’s Russia has remained in the protector role of Assad in Syria, far and above that which would logically attend a regime on such shaky ground internally. And would explain Primakov’s presence in Iraq in the months leading up to the US invasion.
In either case, those who refuse to acknowledge Syria’s possession of VX, the most lethal of nerve agents, and by far the most difficult to produce, have to do some soul searching. It might serve them well to search all the way back to 2003.