[Ed. – Right. And fertilizer is not historically “listed” by U.S. law as a dangerous substance prohibited to the public. But that doesn’t prevent law enforcement from tracking and investigating what people are doing with it, and interdicting bomb attacks involving it, based on reasonable suspicion.]
Via the Free Beacon, not only does chlorine have a long history as a chemical weapon, it was the very first chemical weapon used on the western front in World War I, by the Germans at Ypres. The key word here, though, is “listed.” Chlorine isn’t listed as a weapon by the OPCWfor the simple reason that it’s used ubiquitously to decontaminate water. If you try to reduce access to it, you risk cholera epidemics in poorer countries. Problem is, as the Germans discovered, undiluted chlorine gas also works reasonably well as a crude WMD. It’s a weak agent compared to sarin or VX so it’s more likely to sicken the targets than to kill lots of them (although a few fatalities aren’t uncommon), but it works. Even O acknowledges here that it can be used as a weapon.
So why’d he feel obliged to footnote his answer by mentioning how it’s categorized under arms control protocols? It has to do with “red lines.” …
The reason Obama’s keen to emphasize how chlorine is “listed” is so that Americans won’t scratch their heads over why gas bombs are still dropping, having heard for months from the White House about how we supposedly convinced Assad to give up his WMD. It’s a way to suggest that the “red line,” which never should have been raised by O since he never really intended to enforce militarily, is being respected even as Syrian kids are choking to death on chlorine.