U.S. attempting to stop Syria from expanding chemical arsenal

Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime continues to work on growing its chemical weapons arsenal, attempting to buy up precursor chemicals for deadly nerve agents such as sarin, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. and its allies blocked most of the country's attempts to buy precursor chemicals, but al-Assad's scientists still have hundreds of metric tons of chemicals that could be turned into deadly weapons. The work on the chemical arsenal carries on despite the massive civil war currently occurring in the embattled nation, Wired reports.

"Assad is weathering everything the rebels throw at him," one U.S. official said, according to Wired. "Business is continuing as usual. They've been busy little bees."

In July, al-Assad's regime said that it might use chemical weapons to stop external forces from intervening in the war. The world community, al-Assad's allies included, made it clear that the unleashing of weapons of mass destruction would not be acceptable.

"There was a moment we thought they were going to use (the chemical arsenal) - especially back in July," the official said, according to Wired. "But we took a second look at the intelligence, and it was less urgent than we thought."

The U.S. State Department and the CIA recently worked with allies in the region to prevent Syria from buying industrial amounts of isopropanol, one of the two main chemical precursors to sarin gas, Wired reports.

"Damascus has continued its pursuit of chemical weapons despite the damage to its international reputation and the rising costs of evading international export control on chemical weapons materials," the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies said, according to Wired.