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Head of UN/OPCW joint mission to report state of affairs in Syria's chemical disarmament

March 05, 2014, 10:08 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
On Tuesday, the OPCW announced that one-third of the stocks of toxic agents had been taken out of Syria
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Chemical agents transportation out of Syria

Chemical agents transportation out of Syria


UNITED NATIONS, March 05. /ITAR-TASS/. The UN Security Council is due to hold a monthly meeting on Wedensday about the course of the operation for chemical disarament of Syria. A report is to be made by Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the joint misssion of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

"On Wednesday, the special coordinator of the UN/OPCW joint mission will present her fifth report to the UN Security Council," Sylvie Lucas, Luxembourg's Ambassador to the UN, who directs the work of the UNSC this month, confirmed Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General's spokesman Martin Nesirky, for his part, said Sigrid Kaag plans to meet reporters at the close of the consultations at the UNSC.

On Tuesday, the OPCW announced that one-third of the stocks of toxic agents had been taken out of Syria. At present, five batches of toxic chemicals have been already shipped from the Syrian port of Latakia, including a certain amount of sulphur yprite, also known as mustard gas. Along with isopropanol and methylphosphonyldiphthoride, it is listed among five most potent toxic agents which are to be destroyed in the first place.

The OPCW reported that yet another batch of chemicals is to be brought to Latakia this week. Besides, an OPCW source confirmed that by now Syria has already destroyed in its territory 93% of its isoprorpanol stocks.

The chemical weapons are brought by Syrian authorities to the port of Latakia where they are loaded into Danish or Norwegian vessels which then put out to sea and await the arrival of next batches. The guarding is provided by an international flotilla which includes naval ships from Russia, China, Norway, and Denmark.

After loading is completed, the priority chemical weapons will be sent to Italy for reloading into the American ship Cape Ray for a futher neutralization.

The chemical agents of the second category will be destroyed by private companies.


Safety problems

At present, the main difficulties are connected with the transportation of chemical weapons from inland depots to Latakia. The war in Syria has not abated, and safety conditions do not allow doing that quickly enough.

In a report published last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out that the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic had informed the mission of two instances of an attack by militants on convoys carrying chemical weapons on January 27. Perpetrators and organizers of the attacks were not specified.

Nevertheless, the problems with safety resulted in failure to remove all the toxic agents by February 5, as had been originally planned. Taking this into consideration, the Syrian side submitted a new timetable with the deadline set for the end of April. It is not clear so far whether this will influence the attainment of the main goal: to eliminate the toxic agents by June 30.

According to OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu, as of now Syria has available "all the necesary vehicles and equipment for the speediest removal of chemical weapons".

"In view of the delays and failure to meet the two previous deadlines, we consider it necessary to meet the new deadlines unconditionally . The Syrian government assured us that it is prepared to remove the chemicals in accordance with the submitted timetable," Uzumcu said.

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