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Experts discuss how to take chemical weapons out of Syria safely

December 27, 2013, 12:42 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The consultations proceed behind closed doors

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MOSCOW, December 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Consultations in Moscow, bringing together experts from Russia, the United States, China, Syria and the UN, discuss interaction to ensure a safe withdrawal of chemical weapons from Syria.

The consultations proceed behind closed doors. The Russian delegation includes officials from the foreign and defense ministries. “The consultations will focus on purely practical issues — how to organize and ensure a safe removal of poisonous substances from the Syrian coast by sea,” Foreign Ministry sources have told Itar-Tass.

The operation is international, that is why “it is extremely important to coordinate details, in order not to disrupt interaction,” they said.

Russia has voiced its readiness to provide naval ships to escort the dangerous cargo. Shortly, components of Syrian chemical weapons must be brought to the seaport of Latakia where they will be loaded aboard Dutch and Norwegian container vessels for subsequent destruction at sea. All in all, more than 1,000 tons of chemicals will be destroyed. Mustard gas, sarin gas components, elements of XV-gases, considered the most dangerous, are to be removed first.

Initially, it was planned to take these chemicals away by December 31, but it is obvious now that this plan fails. However, experts say the situation must not be dramatized. Under decisions of the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, all stocks of Syrian chemical weapons must be destroyed by June 30, 2014. Nobody questions this final timeframe, while the timing of intermediate stages may be changed in accordance with the situation.

At present, plans are to remove and load the bulk of chemical weapons on ships in January. From the Syrian coast they would be moved to an Italian port and re-loaded aboard the US Cape Ray ship which has equipment necessary for initial treatment of poisonous substances. This ship will reach the Mediterranean in the second part of January. Great Britain has also expressed its readiness to destroy part of chemical weapons. Russia and China are ready to ensure the safety of their loading onto a container vessel and escort these ships within Syria’s territorial waters.

To ensure safe transportation of poisonous substances across Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry has airlifted there KAMAZ trucks and Ural armored trucks as well as 25 water tanks, 52 large army tents, 13 motor-drawn field kitchens and other equipment. Besides, by the end of the outgoing year Russia will transfer two million dollars to the UN fund set up to supply a want at the initial stage of the operation.

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