Can UN inspectors find and destroy so many chemical weapons in Syria? Fareed Zakaria interviewed the UN’s chief weapons inspector. Richard Butler on Sunday:
ZAKARIA: So the bottom line is the inspections process, through all that difficult, actually worked.
BUTLER: It did work. In my last report to the Security Council in 1999, I made clear that we had had a full account of all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction with the exception, interestingly, of a small quantity of chemical weapons.
We couldn’t account for them. We knew that they’d been produced. We couldn’t find them. Iraq had either destroyed them or, and this is interesting in today’s context, we had an intelligence report that they’d moved them across the border into Syria to keep them away from us.
But basically, Fareed, the system did work and the bottom line to that, Fareed, and this may sound incredible naive on my part, but is a genuine willingness on the part of those being inspected to cooperate.
Now, that might sound a bit funny, a bit naive. We had that willingness from the Iraqi side for quite a while and then they started to withdraw it.
And I’ll make this point right here and now, this can work, what the Russian’s have proposed and the Syrians said they will agree to, it can work provided a system of the kind I’ve described is put in place.
But, above all, provided the Syrians are prepared to want and act to make it work. Cooperation, then it can be done. If they play a shell game, if they resist, it won’t be achieved.