Syrian chemical weapons safe, U.S. and Israel say

The United States recently announced it believes that Syria has control over its chemical weapons stockpile after reports surfaced that the U.S. and Israel fear militants could seize them during anti-government protests.

The two countries have been monitoring the Syrian stockpile because they fear terrorist groups might take advantage of the chaos of anti-government protests against President Bashar Al-Assad to obtain chemical agents as well as long-range missiles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We have long called on the Syrian government to give up its chemical weapons arsenal and to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which it has not yet done," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, AFP reports. "That said, we do believe that Syria's chemical stockpile remains under government control and that there is no change in the lockdown status of those weapons. Syria has a stockpile of nerve agent and some mustard gas, and we will continue to work closely with like-minded countries to ensure that there is no proliferation of that material as well."

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources in both countries to add that U.S. intelligence services believe Syria maintains stockpiles of mustard agent, VX and Sarin nerve gas, along with missile and artillery-based delivery systems.

"We are very concerned about the status of Syria's WMD, including chemical weapons," Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, said, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Together with the U.S. administration, we are watching this situation very carefully."

Current and former U.S. officials believe that Syria maintains at least five sites where it produces chemical weapons, but the facilities are spread across the country and very difficult to monitor, according to the Wall Street Journal.