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FROM THIS EPISODE

President Obama has warned Syria that using—or even transporting--chemical weapons would be a “game changer.”  Britain, France and Israel now claim that the al-Assad regime has thrown down the gauntlet.  Syria denies the charge, but is the evidence credible?  Will the US have to respond?  What are the available options?

 

Banner Photo © Reuters - Handout photo from SANA, Syria's national news agency.

Producers:
Christian Bordal
Kerry Cavanaugh
Katie Cooper
Evan George
Anna Scott
Caitlin Shamberg
Sonya Geis

Reporter's Notebook How Problems at the Texas Fertilizer Plant Escaped Detection 8 MIN, 8 SEC

Last week’s explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas killed 15 people—10 of them volunteer firefighters.  It burned a school and destroyed or damaged buildings all over the tiny town.  With 2,400 tons of ammonium nitrate stored there, did regulators ever ask the right questions? 

Guests:
Randy Lee Loftis, Dallas Morning News (@RandyLeeLoftis)

Main Topic Syria’s Chemical Weapons and Obama’s “Red Line” 35 MIN, 17 SEC

Last week, Britain and France asked the UN to investigate evidence that Syria has used chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war.  Yesterday, Israel’s top military intelligence analyst said photographs from attacks near Aleppo and Damascus show victims with constricted pupils foaming at the mouth—possible signs of the nerve agent sarin.  He told an international conference in Jerusalem that, without “appropriate reaction,” Syria might conclude such use is “legitimate.”  The Syrian government concedes it has chemical weapons but promises not to use them—unless there is foreign intervention.

President Obama has said even moving such weapons around would be a “game changer” and constitute a “red line.”  But just what did he mean? If there’s persuasive evidence, and the US fails to act, will Syria be emboldened by what seems a hollow warning?  

Available options include arming some rebels, establishing a “no-fly zone” and trying to seize or destroy the weapons.  We’ll look at the prospects for increased US involvement.

Guests:
Erika Solomon, Financial Times (@ErikaSolomon)
Howard LaFranchi, Diplomatic Correspondent, Christian Science Monitor
Amy Smithson, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (@CNS)
Gary Gambill, Middle East Forum
Andrew Tabler, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (@andrewtabler)

Making News Air Traffic Controller Furloughs Cause Thousands of Flight Delays 7 MIN, 32 SEC
385 domestic airline flights were cancelled yesterday and 6,396 were delayed. Remember “sequester?” The FAA says the best way to save money is to furlough its employees—including air-traffic controllers.

Guests:
Nancy Trejos, USA Today

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