Nunn: Removing chemical weapons from Syria could take decades



ATLANTA - Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn says it could be years before Syria destroys all of its chemical weapons.

Nunn told Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston that the United States and Russia working together is movement in the right direction, but the job could take decades.

“It’s a big job and it’s not going to be quick,” Nunn said.

Even in a peaceful situation, the work is slow and methodical, especially if the weapons are already attached to rockets and missiles, according to Nunn.

Syrian President Bashar Assad pledged in an interview Monday to honor an agreement to surrender Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, but he said that rebels might try to block international arms inspectors from doing their work.

Nunn said the weapons have to be removed without our enemies getting them.

“The last thing you want is chemical weapons in the hands of even more people, particularly since some of the rebels have heavy influence with the al Qaeda groups,” Nunn said.

Nunn spoke to Huddleston Monday during an advisory board meeting for Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.

Nunn said it was President Barack Obama’s talk of military might that changed Syria’s stance.

“Without that threat of military force, we certainly would not be where we are today, with at least some hope that we can get rid of these weapons of mass destruction," Nunn said. “Doing it in a civil war atmosphere, where there is very little security, is a very big hill to climb, but it can be a real game changer in several aspects of international relations.”

Nunn said Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons outside of Russia and the United States.  He says the two larger countries have been destroying their weapons since 1991.

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