First rule: Be very careful in reading what the MSM is saying. It’s clear that a number of reporters have no idea how chemical weapons work.
The only conclusion I can come to so far is that Syria is doing something at some of its chemical weapons depots.
NBC got it wrong last night and has since edited its report, but they’re still confused. When I see symptoms of confusion, I tend to question the whole report.
Evidently Syria is doing something at their chemical weapons depots. Apparently not much is known about Syria’s chemical weapons.
Nerve agents can decompose if they are stored in their shells. They also are extremely nasty to handle. For those reasons and others, they may be stored as precursors, two compounds that, when mixed, form the agent itself. The mixing may be done before the shells are filled or in the shell as it flies toward its target. If I were handling the weapons, the latter would be my preference.
The NBC report manages to mention both pre-mixing and filling the shells with precursors, indicating that the NBC reporters and editors don’t understand how this works. Or can’t be bothered to clarify that Syria has both kinds of shells? That’s the problem – it’s not possible to tell where the confusion lies from the news report alone.
Also, the mixing and filling would be done indoors. But satellite photography could detect the movement of shells and containers of agent. Although the NBC report seems to say that all their surmise is based on an order from the Syrian government to its Chemical Corps to “be prepared.” More confusion.
I’ve written a couple of things about the situation, one linked upthread and here again, and another at Nuclear Diner. Aaron Stein tweeted a number of useful facts this morning (@aaronstein1) and has a good post here, along with others I linked to in the Nuclear Diner article.
Most probable bottom line: Assad is doing something at the chemical weapons depots. We won’t know whether he’s desperate enough to use them until he does.