The U.S.-Russia agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons is reigniting a controversy over the 2003 covert operation by Russian special operations forces to remove Iraqi weapons — including chemical arms — and move them to Syria and Lebanon prior to the Iraq War.
John A. Shaw, a former Pentagon official who first disclosed the Iraqi-Russian collaboration to The Washington Times, said the agreement brokered by Moscow could resolve unanswered questions about the arms transfers.
“The Russians were the principal — if not the sole — supplier of chemical weapons to both Iraq and Syria,” said Mr. Shaw, a former deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security who tracked Iraqi weapons for the Pentagon.
Mr. Shaw noted that U.N. inspectors who surveyed the site of the Aug. 21 Syrian chemical weapons attack near Damascus found an intact rocket motor inscribed with Cyrillic writing, indicating the delivery system was Russian in origin.
Mr. Shaw said Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons — about 1,000 tons of nerve and blister agents — is estimated to be 50 percent larger than it was in 2003.
“My people on the ground definitively tracked the Russian movement of Iraqi [chemical weapons] and high explosives to three locations in Syria and two in Lebanon in 2003,” Mr. Shaw told Inside the Ring.