Author Topic: Third shipment of chemical weapons leaves Syria - UN  (Read 165 times)

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Third shipment of chemical weapons leaves Syria - UN
« on: February 10, 2014, 11:57:56 PM »
A third shipment of chemical weapons materials has left Syria, with some destroyed inside the country, the global chemical weapons watchdog says.

The material was shipped on board a Norwegian cargo vessel, accompanied by a fleet from China, Denmark, Norway and Russia, the joint UN-OPCW mission said.

Syria has recently missed several deadlines in an internationally-agreed destruction timetable.

But the government insists it will meet the final deadline at the end of June.

Under a UN resolution backed by Russia and the US, Syria is to surrender all of its 1,300 tonnes of declared chemical weapons for destruction by mid-2014.

But the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is overseeing the destruction operation with the UN, has admitted the process has been slowed down by security concerns.

The announcement came as a second round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition negotiators opened in Geneva.

Call for expedition
In its latest statement, the joint mission said it "welcomed the progress to date," but did not detail how much material had been shipped out or destroyed.
However, it encouraged the Syrian authorities "to expedite systematic, predictable and high-volume movements to complete the safe removal of chemical materials".

Last week, Syria failed to meet a deadline to ship "priority two" material out of the country, which the government said was caused by attacks on shipments of weapons en route from Damascus to the port of Latakia.

US officials have voiced concerns that the UN-backed plan is falling behind schedule. But Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad told the BBC last week that "Syria is doing its best" to comply with the timetable.

So far, only around 30 of 1,300 tonnes have been removed - 4% of "priority one" chemicals and roughly the same percentage of "priority two".

The removal of priority one chemicals was due for completion by 31 December, while the deadline for priority two was 5 February.

Russia - a key ally of Syria - has said Damascus should complete the transfer of its chemical weapons to the coast for removal by ship by 1 March.

The deal to eradicate Syria's chemical weapons came about after a chemical weapons attack in August in the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds of civilians.

The US and Syrian opposition blamed the government for the attack. It denied responsibility.

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