Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry made up a 7-day “deadline” for Syria to offer its complete records on its chemical weapons arsenal. That “deadline” still isn’t anywhere in any actual law or UN resolution, but US officials are still treating it as a thing, and warning that Syria risks missing it.
Syria ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on September 12, and under the CWC has a 30-day deadline to hand over all the data on their stockpile. That would be several more weeks, but the State Department is expecting to hold Syria to a deadline of Saturday.
The 7-day deadline was intended to be part of a US-Russia deal on the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, but US officials then delayed that resolution by trying to slip a war authorization into it, and it still hasn’t been passed.
It’s unclear where Syria stands on the deadline right now, as the last comment they made was on the 12th, indicating they were prepared to meet the 30 day version. The US has suggested they might give Syria some leeway, but they also seem eager to present missing the arbitrary deadline as some sort of show of bad faith.
While not necessarily a huge deal in and of itself, the reaction could be a good preview of the process of disarmament in the ensuing months, and in all likelihood, years. Chemical disarmament is a slow, complex process sure to be fraught with unforeseen obstacles, and plenty of chances for the US to fly off the handle at an imagined provocation.