Removal of Syrian chemical weapons unlikely before deadline

Damascus, Dec 29 : The joint OPCW-UN mission in Syria said the transportation of the most critical chemical material out of Syria before the Dec 31, 2013 deadline is unlikely due to the volatility in overall security conditions in Syria.

"Preparations continue in readiness for the transport of most of the critical chemical material from the Syrian Arab Republic for outside destruction. However, at this stage, transportation of the most critical chemical material before Dec 31 is unlikely," Xinhua cited from a statement Saturday by the joint mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN.

While announcing a delay in moving the chemical material out of Syria, the statement said a number of external factors have impacted upon the timelines.

It also said that the Syrian government has also indicated its specific requirements, which it deems critical to the package and transport of chemical weapons material, adding that a wide-scale procurement effort by individual member states of the Security Council has been facilitated by the OPCW-UN Joint Mission to source, collect and deliver various packaging and transport materials requested by Syria.

"Logistical challenges coupled with inclement weather have contributed to this delay," the statement said.

It said preparations are well advanced in regards to the supply of materials and transport equipment, as well as the provision for the maritime transport and destruction capabilities, in order to commence removal and transport of most the critical chemical material from Syrian territory as soon as possible.

Removing the critical chemical material from Syria is at the second stage after the OPCW-UN Joint Mission confirmed that the Syrian government had completed the destruction of all unfilled chemical munitions well ahead of the timeline set by the OPCW Executive Council.

In spite of the volatile situation in Syria and the significant challenges ahead, the OPCW-UN Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag called upon all parties in Syrian conflict to ensure the timely removal and continued destruction of Syrian declared chemical weapon programme, according to the statement.

The United Nations Security Council and OPCW Executive Council established timelines for the removal and elimination of Syrian chemical weapons program by the end of June 2014, following the Syrian government approval to destroy its chemical arsenal recently.

--IANS (Posted on 29-12-2013)

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