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MOSCOW, April 26, /ITAR-TASS/. In a telephone conversation on Saturday, April 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that 92% of chemical material had been removed from Syria up to date.
The Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed delivery of a further shipment of chemical weapons material, which has brought the total of chemical material removed and destroyed in country to 92.5%
“I welcome the significant progress of the last three weeks, and I strongly encourage the Syrian authorities to conclude the removal operations as part of their efforts to achieve the 30 June 2014 deadline. Particular thanks goes to Member States for their steadfast support,” U.N./OPCW Joint Mission Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag.
In addition to the removal operations, the Syrian authorities have destroyed buildings, equipment and empty mustard gas containers, and decontaminated other containers in a number of chemical weapons storage and production sites. A majority of these sites are now closed.
Kaag said on April 22 that the removal of chemicals from Syria would be completed within the next few days. This will contribute to meeting the deadlines set by the OPCW Executive Council, including the June 30, 2014 target date for completing the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapons programme.
“The renewed pace in movements is positive and necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline,” she said.
According to the OPCW, no chemical weapons will be left in Syria by April 27. They will be destroyed by Britain, Germany, the United States, and Finland.
When all of the Syrian chemicals from all storage sites have been loaded aboard the Danish and Norwegian cargo ships, they will be transported to various locations for destruction under the verification of OPCW inspectors.
The majority of Priority 1 chemicals will be neutralised at sea aboard the U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray, while a smaller amount will be neutralised at a land-based facility in Ellesmere Port, UK. The Priority 2 chemicals will be destroyed at commercial facilities in the U.S. and Finland. A facility in Germany will dispose of part of the effluent from the Cape Ray operations, the OPCW said.
The Syrian Government informed the Joint Mission of a revised plan for removing all relevant chemicals from its territory by April 27. The amended plan was considered by the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague in early March 7. Western countries were concerned that the delays would not allow Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons by June 30, 2014 as was initially planned and it will need a delay of several months.
The removal of the most critical material for destruction began on January 7, 2014, a week after the deadline for its completion set by an agreement brokered by Russia and the United States under which Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.
On November 15, 2013, the OPCW Executive Council (EC) approved a detailed plan of destruction to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In the plan, Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner”, and no later than June 30, 2014.
Under Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) and decisions of the OPCW Executive Council, Syria’s entire chemical weapons programme is to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.
Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons under an agreement brokered last year by Russia and the United States.