OPCW: Syria chemical weapon destruction delayed to end of January
UN chemical watchdog head Ahmet Uzumcu told Agence France-Presse Tuesday that the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons will likely begin in late January.
According to Uzumcu, "We [The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)] hope that by the end of January, the destruction on the American ship could start. [However,] much will depend in fact on the security situation and unfortunately the security situation has deteriorated over the past weeks. Some roads were not accessible."
The US Navy has provided its 200-meter MV Cape Ray for the weapons' destructions, but to reach the vessel, the arms must be transported out of the country to the port of Latakia on the Mediterranean.
The OPCW roadmap adopted in November set a deadline to remove Syria's chemical stockpile from the country by the end of the year, but Uzumcu told reporters Monday that the mission may not meet the Dec. 31 deadline.
"There could be some slight delays but I'm not that worried about delays. For me what's important is this operation takes place in the safest and most secure manner," Uzumcu said.
The UN chemical watchdog will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo this week due to its work on the Syria chemical issue since reports surfaced in August that sarin was used to exterminate neighborhoods near Damascus and other areas of the war-torn country.
- Syria's chemical weapon destruction may be delayed if OPCW does not receive more funding
- OPCW: Dangerous security situation in Syria threatening destruction of chemical weapons
- OPCW finalizes Syria chemical weapons destruction plan, details to be released Wednesday
- Third of Syria's chemical weapons surrendered, shipped for final destruction this week