WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has spent more than a decade trying to develop weapons to neutralize chemical weapons, the threat that has the United States poised to launch a missile strike on Syria, according to military planning documents and officials.
The weapons, which would be attached to a bomb dropped from an aircraft, are supposed to neutralize chemical weapons where they are produced or stored. U.S. and western officials accuse Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government of unleashing chemical weapons on civilians. Hundreds of Syrians died Aug. 21 in a suspected chemical attack, and the Obama administration has said Assad's government is responsible for it.
What to attack — and how — are key questions for military planners. Four Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean carry cruise missiles that can hit targets in Syria. The U.S. Air Force has used its stealthy B-2 bomber to hit high-priority targets in Iraq and Libya and would seem capable of carrying such a weapon.