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Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Thursday, 15 March 2012

Warning over Syrian WMD capability


A new warning has been given about the difficulties facing the international community in Syria about weapons of mass destruction.

Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a former CIA official, told the Today programme's Justin Webb that Syria has been developing chemical weapons since the 1980s and has the "most sophisticated chemical and biological weapons arsenal in the Arab world" and "the means to deliver them".

"If Syria implodes", he said "many people will try and get their hands on these weapons" such as Iran, Hezbollah or Al Qaeda.

He said that "until you have stabilised the country any outside force coming in is going to be a target."

"Clearly what Assad government is doing is barbaric and horrible", he continued, "but not easy to see out how the outside world can help transform the situation."

Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen said that a year since the Syrian uprising began, outside powers will say they don't see things we can do militarily that won't make things worse.

He explained that people are focusing on the Kofi Annan mission who is trying to get political process going because the alternative would be a "continued spiral downwards into war".

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