Syrian chemical arms reportedly to be removed by April
Syria’s chemical weapons that should be destroyed outside the country could be removed by April 13, Reuters reported a Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying on Friday, adding there was no need to adjust the timeframe.
“If there are no difficulties then in a month, on April 13, the removal will be practically finished,” Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Foreign Ministry’s security and disarmament department, was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.
Ulyanov added that Syria would present the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with a new plan to destroy its chemical weapons production facilities at the end of March.
Syria declared 12 production facilities to the OPCW and had until March 15 to destroy them under a deal agreed with the United States and Russia. Damascus has already missed several deadlines laid out in the agreement.
Damascus agreed last year to destroy all chemical weapons facilities and surrender 1,300 metric tonnes of toxic agents to a joint OPCW/United Nations mission.
It has until June 30 to eliminate its chemical weapons program completely.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State said Thursday efforts to speed up the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal could be hampered because of tensions with Russia over Ukraine.
About a third of Syria’s toxic arms stockpile has now been removed from the war-torn country, and the rest is under control in 12 different locations, Kerry told U.S. lawmakers.
The challenge is now to remove the remaining weapons to Syria’s main port Latakia so they can be shipped out of the country to be destroyed.
The deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons was hammered out late last year between Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in talks in Geneva.
With Reuters and AFP
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