THE HAGUE, January 07, 23:14 /ITAR-TASS/. Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu has called on the Syrian government to keep the current pace of removal of chemical weapons from its territory.
In his statement on Tuesday, Uzumcu welcomed the beginning of the chemical weapons removal operation as a major step towards the implementation of the international community’s plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria and destroy them outside its territory.
According to earlier reports, Syria had moved the first batch of its chemical weapons out of the country after transporting it from two sites to the port of Latakia and onto a Danish ship. “The vessel has been accompanied by naval escorts provided by Denmark and Norway, as well as the Syrian Arab Republic," OPCW said in a statement. "It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port."
The two bulk carriers and two coastal guard ships sailed off from Cyprus’ Limassol three days ago. On their way to an Italian port, these ships will be convoyed by the Russian Petr Velikiy missile cruiser and the Chinese Yancheng frigate. Apart from that, Russia has lent heavy-duty trucks to take poisonous substances from Damascus to Latakia.
Under initial plans, the first priority chemicals were to be moved from Syria before December 31, 2013 but these plans were delayed because of transportations security and logistics problems. Nonetheless, Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations (OPCW-UN) joint mission, said that a slight delay would be no obstacle for the international community in this operation. All chemical weapons are to be taken out of Syria by February 5, 2014. First priority chemicals are to be destroyed outside Syria by March 31, 2014, the rest - by June 30, 2014.