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FROM THIS EPISODE

In Geneva, the US says it will test the seriousness of Russia's plan to put Syria's chemical arsenal under international control. In the meantime, we look at how difficult that task will be — even if Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad can be trusted to mean what they say. In the meantime, is the US arming Syrian rebels? Also, two years after nuclear plants exploded and melted down, Japan is struggling to clean up at Fukushima. We hear about the "ice wall" and other strategies.

Banner image: US Army Chemical Materials Agency

Producers:
Anna Scott
Sonya Geis
Christian Bordal

Making News Is the US Arming Syrian Rebels? 7 MIN, 49 SEC

As the negotiations get under way in Geneva, the Washington Post reports that CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay after promises from the Obama Administration. But in Syria, a skeptical General Salim Idriss, commander of the Supreme Military Council, told NPR's Morning Edition that although they were in contact with the US, "Til now honestly and frankly, there is no military support." Ernesto Londoño reports on the Pentagon.

Guests:
Ernesto Londono, Washington Post (@londonoe)

Main Topic Is Taking Charge of Syria's Chemical Weapons Mission Impossible? 37 MIN, 19 SEC

President Obama has postponed his "decision" for taking limited military action to punish Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry has gone to Geneva, where he and foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov will discuss Russia's proposed alternative: placing Bashar al-Assad's arsenal under international supervision with plans to destroy it -- a dangerous job that could take a decade or more. Despite warnings that it can't be done during a civil war, we hear from a former weapons inspector who says the difficulties might be overcome. Where did Syria's chemical stockpile come from?  Did the West, including the US, stand by and watch it build up? How much do we really know? Should more intelligence findings be revealed to overcome public skepticism that is deeply ingrained?

Guests:
Yochi Dreazen, Foreign Policy magazine (@yochidreazen)
Richard Guthrie, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (formerly)
David Sanger, New York Times (@SangerNYT)
Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association

Confront and Conceal

David E. Sanger

Today's Talking Point Can an Ice Wall Fix Fukushima? 6 MIN, 6 SEC

It's been two years since the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl: the explosions and meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima, Japan. Tokyo has since been approved for the summer Olympics of 2020, but neighboring countries — and many Japanese — wonder if the site will be cleaned up even then. The government has taken over the clean-up, with plans to build a protective "ice wall" and remove spent fuel rods from damaged reactor buildings and store them in a safer place. Critics doubt the effectiveness of the strategy. Matthew Wald has reported on nuclear issues for the New York Times since 1979.

Guests:
Matt Wald, New York Times (@MattWaldNYT)

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