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Germany may participate in Syrian chemical weapons elimination

February 14, 2014, 17:47 UTC+3 14
“I consider that the parliament will support us in this question and we will take part in the operation,” Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added
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Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Frank-Walter Steinmeier


MOSCOW, February 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Germany wants to participate in the elimination of Syria's chemical stockpiles but this requires the parliament’s agreement, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday after talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

“There are two stages in transporting the chemical weapons,” he said. “The first one is transportation from Syrian sites to an Italian port. There are already representatives of certain states there, including those from Russia, providing cargo ships and military escorts. The second stage is ship-to-ship transfer for destruction by hydrolysis.”

“I consider that the parliament will support us in this question and we will take part in the operation,” Steinmeier added.


Process of Syrian chemical weapons’ elimination underway

February 10, it was reported that a third shipment of chemical weapons material was removed from Syria.

The material was on board a Norwegian cargo vessel accompanied by a naval escort from China, Denmark, Norway, and Russia. Great Britain is participating in the naval escort in international waters. Finland is providing experts onboard the Danish vessel, the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.

The Joint Mission confirmed that in-country destruction of some chemical materials had taken place alongside the removal of chemical weapons material, and welcomes progress to date.

The Joint Mission continues to work closely with the Syrian Arab Republic and Member States to achieve timely implementation of UNSC resolution 2118 (2013) and OPCW Executive Council decisions. OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu noted that 93 percent of the isopropanol, the key component in the production of the toxic gas sarin, had been destroyed in Syria.

Syrian authorities are required to destroy all stocks of isopropanol in the country by March 1.

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 the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.

The first chemicals removed on January 7 were transported from two sites and loaded onto a Danish vessel which left the port of Latakia. The operation was assisted and verified by the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission in Syria.


Plan for destroying chemical weapons

The plan for destroying the Syrian chemical weapons outside of the country, which was submitted to the Executive Council in late December 2013, aims to meet a deadline set by the Council to destroy Syria’s priority chemicals by March 31, 2014 and other mostly commodity chemicals by June 30, 2014.

The plan includes provisions for ensuring clear responsibility at each stage for all chemicals and takes into account all relevant consideration, including target dates, requirements for safety and security, and overall costs.

On November 15, 2012, 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.

The plan envisions the removal of all declared chemical substances and precursors, except for isopropanol, from Syria no later than February 5, 2014 with the “most critical” chemicals to be transported out of Syria by December 31, 2013. However this was not done because of logistical problems, bad weather and continuing fighting in the parts of Syria where chemical weapons are stored.

Syrian declared chemical weapons facilities will undergo sequenced destruction from December 15, 2013 to March 15, 2014 according to a risk-based criterion.

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