When Libya agreed to give up chemical weapons in 2003, it took less than a year for the OPCW to begin overseeing destruction activity, Kimball said.
The volatile Syria situation — a civil war, the threat of military attacks from the West, uncertainty about how long Assad will be in power — calls for a faster track. But the fighting would probably slow down the work; an effort to destroy sulfur mustard in Libya in early 2011 was delayed for two years because of unrest there, Chorley said.
Because the weapons are so dangerous, destruction facilities are usually built on-site, and then it can take months to get rid of even a small arsenal.
The Times of London reported that a previous plan drawn up by the Pentagon suggested that 75,000 troops would be needed on the ground to destroy up to 500 tons of chemical weapons. Given Syria's arsenal is thought to be double that, the operation could take as many as 150,000 troops to carry out.
To put that number in perspective, a Congressional Research Service Report prepared in 2009 estimated that the number of “boots on the ground” in both Afghanistan and Iraq in 2008 was 187,000.
Anybody on board with that?
I didn't think so.