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US ‘concern’ at Syria weapons delay

QuestCinq.com/news

-The US is “concerned” that Syria is behind schedule in handing over its chemical weapons, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said.

Mr Hagel told reporters in Poland he did not know the reason for the delay but said Damascus “needs to fix this”.

The international watchdog overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal is meeting in The Hague to discuss the operation’s progress.

The stockpiles are due to be removed and destroyed by 30 June.

‘Spotlight’

In a statement to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the US ambassador, Robert Mikulak, said “the effort to remove chemical agent and key precursor chemicals from Syria has seriously languished and stalled”.

Continue reading the main story

Syria’s chemical weapons

  • Syria believed to possess 1,300 tonnes of chemical agents including sarin and more potent nerve agent VX
  • US believes arsenal can be “delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets”
  • Syria acceded to Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 September; it signed Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972 but never ratified it

Mr Mikulak said only around 4% of the chemicals declared by the Syrian government had been removed.

“The spotlight now is on Syria to proceed without further delay to comply with its obligations and make this effort a success,” he added.

Under the terms of the UN-backed plan to destroy Syria’s arsenal, the Syrian authorities are responsible for packing and safely transporting the chemical weapons to the Mediterranean port of Latakia.

Denmark and Norway are providing cargo ships and military escorts to take them to Italy, where they will loaded onto a US Maritime Administration cargo ship, MV Cape Ray.

The materials will be destroyed in international waters.

Source:BBC

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