Shaping Syrian Disarmament Team Muddied by Rivalries, Money, Politics

Syrian Disarmament Efforts to Scrambled by Money, Politics, Rivalries

As part of the agreement, the Russians and Americans will each get their own experts involved. Iran, a party to the treaty and currently a voting member of its executive committee, will also likely try to get one of its inspectors on the team, said Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations.

"There's going to be a lot of horse trading. Both personality and nationality are going to be important factors for the people involved to make this credible. The U.S. is not going to just sign off on a bunch of clowns," said Patrick, an expert on international institutions.

British Foreign Minister William Hague said this week that the UK would send its own inspectors, even though none of the parties involved have yet to approve a British presence, according to an official at U.N. Office of Disarmament Affairs.

Other countries, with seemingly no stake in the conflict, are also jockeying for a role in the inspection regime. Former weapons inspectors pointed to a 2012 report drafted by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry being circulated among diplomats and inspectors, entitled "Weapons of Mass Destruction: How to Set Up an Inspection Regime."

"The framework agreement is bringing all kinds of customers out of the woodwork," said an OPCW official. "Norway would like to deal itself in on the business of conducting this operation. It's strange that anyone would tell OPCW how to set up a verification regime."

Disarming "a country at civil war and at warp speed is uncharted territory" said Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations. The makeup and governance of the team is critical because "different countries have different stakes about how successful they want disarmament. Iranians don't want success. The Russians might want to slow roll the process."

Once inspectors are on the ground, finding and destroying those weapons will be its own daunting task.

"Nothing about this will be easy," said Gwyn Wifiled, editor of CBRNe World and an expert on weapons of mass destruction. "The inspectors will effectively become a third player in the conflict. It will be difficult to get to places they need to go, and they will be forced to rely on the Syrians for information and security."

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