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OPCW/UN Mission head: shipment of mustard gas removed from Syria

February 26, 2014, 21:19 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
According to the OPCW preliminary plan, all stocks of Syrian chemical weapons have to be destroyed by the end of June 2014
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© EPA/MAGALI GIRARDIN

UNITED NATIONS, February 26, /ITAR-TASS/. A shipment of mustard gas has been removed from Syria, Sigrid Kaag, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said on Wednesday, February 26.

She welcomed this as an important step in the operation to destroy Syrian chemical weapons.

Kaag said earlier that the Syrian authorities are working together with the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to extend the deadline for the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons.

She said the new deadlines proposed by Syria would have to be approved by the U.N. Security Council and the OPCW.

According to the OPCW preliminary plan, all stocks of Syrian chemical weapons have to be destroyed by the end of June 2014. Kane did not specify what the new deadline would be like.

However she mentioned several factors that impeded the removal and destruction of chemical weapons. One of them is the security of toxic substances during transportation. She admitted that the deadlines set in the initial plan were overly ambitious.

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.

Uzumcu stressed that a significant effort would be needed to ensure the chemicals that still remained in Syria were removed - in accordance with a concrete schedule and without further delays - consistent with the obligations of Syria deriving from the OPCW Executive Council decisions and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118.

The Syrian authorities are required to destroy all stocks of the 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 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.

The plan for destroying the Syrian chemical weapons outside 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, 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.

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

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.

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