Obama: 'Historically,' chlorine is not a chemical weapon

Red line? What red line?

Syria has been using chlorine gas in their civil war for several years - despite the president's assurances that their chemical weapons stockpiles have been seized. When asked about it at a press conference at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit yesterday, the president made the astonishing claim that chlorin has not "historically" been considered a chemical weapon.

Arutz Sheva:

Widespread reports of chlorine gas attacks in Syria have not been prevented - or acted upon - because chlorine is not "historically" considered a chemical weapon, US President Barack Obama statedThursday.

Obama was forced to answer the chlorine question during a press conference from a summit at Camp David with leaders of the Gulf states. Syria and Iran were key issues at the conference. 

However, when pressed about chlorine, Obama evaded defining it as a "weapon," noting that it has many other non-threatening uses.

"Chlorine itself is not listed as a chemical weapon," he insisted, referring to the US's pledge against chemical weapons use in Syria. 

In his response, Obama made reference to the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which indeed supervised the liquidation of Syria's sarin gas over a year-long process that ended in late 2014. 

However, the chemical watchdog indeed concluded in January "with a high degree of confidence" that chlorine gas had been used in attacks on three villages in Syria last year.

Both UN and US officials have said that they are investigating the claims. 

"There is mounting evidence of repeated use of chlorine" in Syria, a United Nations Security Council diplomat said to AFP last week. "There is a proposal for a mechanism which would allow relevant experts to have the right kind of access to answer the questions about attribution." 

"We are actively engaged in conversations with UN colleagues regarding the continued use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria," a US official added. "The Security Council must address the need to determine who is responsible for using chlorine chemicals as weapons in Syria."

Chlorine was the first deadly chemical weapon developed in World War I, and was in use by early 1915. For the president to try and weasel out of his "red line" claim once again is idiotic. The question isn't whether Chlorine is on a list of weaponized chemicals somewhere. The question is how Assad used Chlorine as a weapon to kill civilians.

Of course Chlorine has other uses than a weapon, but the facts are clear. Syria has used chlorine gas as a weapon and the US is hiding behind a technicality to avoid doing anything about it.