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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Third shipment of chemical weapons leaves Syria

10 February 2014, 18:31

The third shipment of Syrian chemical weapons has taken place, the Reuters news agency reports on Monday citing an OPCW statement.The Dutch and Norwegian vessels Ark Futura and Taiko have been taking away the Syrian chemical arsenal from the port of Latakia since January 7. Two consignments have already been completed.

According to an initial plan, the toxic cargo was to be removed from Syria before December 31, 2013, but due to the unstable situation in the country, that didn't happen.

In line with the OPCW schedule, around 20,000 tons of toxic mustard gas have to be removed by March 31, 2014, and the entire chemical arsenal has to be destroyed by the end of 2014.

UN told Syria must accelerate chemical arms shipments - envoy

The head of the international chemical weapons mission in Syria told the UN Security Council on Thursday that, with the deadline looming for the elimination of the government's toxic arsenal, accelerated cooperation is vital, a diplomat said.

The remarks came from Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint mission, by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), that is overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal.

'With the deadline on the horizon, it is essential that Syria accelerates' shipments of toxic chemicals out of the country, Kaag told a closed-door briefing of the 15-nation Security Council, a diplomat attending told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The 'Time for action is now.'

Russia has no doubt Syrian chemical weapons to be eleminated by July - FM

Russia does not doubt that the term for eliminating Syria's chemical weapons will be observed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, told a briefing in Moscow. He added that Syrian government forces have deterred attacks by militants against chemical arms depots.

'Despite the existing difficulties related to the withdrawal of toxic agents, there are no grounds for disputing the term - the end of June or beginning of July 2014,' the diplomat said.

Syrian government forces have deterred attacks by militants against chemical arms depots, added Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

'The Syrian side reported that some of the chemical arms depots had been attacked. Fortunately, government forces managed to deter those attacks successfully,' he told a press briefing in Moscow.

'It is worth mentioning that UN Security Council resolution 2118 binds all Syrian warring sides, which have an influence on the situation in that country, to render comprehensive support to the safe implementation of these decisions,' the diplomat said.

Moscow does not want to dramatize the slowing down of exportation of chemical weapons from Syria, Lukashevich said. He said he was confident that the deadlines could not have been met 'for objective reasons'.

'As we know, ground transportation of highly toxic chemicals continues amid the ongoing armed conflict in Syria and it is beset by many risks,' the diplomat said.

Damascus fully complying with chemical arms removal plan – Syrian deputy FM

The Syrian government has been fulfilling its commitments towards the removal of deadly chemical weapons, the country's deputy foreign chief Faisal Mekdad has said.

In an interview with a state-run Syrian TV channel, Mr. Mekdad said the government has been able to meet the majority of objectives ahead of the deadlines and assured the audience of its commitment to all UN and OPCW agreements.

The deputy foreign minister blamed terrorists for holding up Syria's effort to bring chemicals to the port of Latakia. As a result Damascus has missed the transportation deadline, causing some countries to accuse the Assad administration of dragging its feet.

Mr. Mekdad stressed that the same countries had actually been trying to prevent the government from complying with its objective of taking chemical stockpiles out of Syria.

'These nations should stop tipping off terrorist groups on the cargo transportation routes,' the minister said without specifying which countries he meant.

Earlier, French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, warned Damascus against missing its deadlines. 'The Syrian government is slowing down the destruction of its chemical weapons,' he said in an interview with France Info.

He claimed that Syria had allegedly given up only 5 percent of its chemical stockpile, whereas they were supposed to relinquish 100 percent by February 1.

Mr. Fabius underscored that the Assad administration 'must respect the commitments that it has made,' but ruled out any possibility of a military intervention, should it fail to do that.

Voice of Russia, RIA, Reuters

Source: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_10/ Third-shipment-of-chemical- weapons-taken-away-from-Syria-7650/



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